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Senate Bill 2508 Is A Threat To Clean WaterKill The Bill

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Bad Water Bill Threatens Years Of Clean Water Progress

On February 4th, the Florida Senate filed Senate Bill 2508, a dangerous piece of legislation that poses a major threat to Everglades restoration and clean water progress.

The bill would undo years of progress and revert back to an industry-serving water mismanagement system that prioritizes water supply for the sugar industry at the expense of everyone else. This means more harmful discharges to the coasts, more toxic algae, less water to the Everglades, and incalculable economic and environmental losses that harm all Floridians.

Our supporters GOT LOUD and the outpouring of public opposition to SB 2508, including Governor Ron DeSantis who slammed the bill, is forcing the Senate to make changes. We are continuing to super-charge public engagement, fire up the pressure on policymakers, and fight to stop SB 2508 altogether. Join us!

Bad Water Bill Threatens Years Of Clean Water Progress

On February 4th, the Florida Senate filed Senate Bill 2508, a dangerous piece of legislation that poses a major threat to Everglades restoration and clean water progress.

The bill would undo years of progress and revert back to an industry-serving water mismanagement system that prioritizes water supply for the sugar industry at the expense of everyone else. This means more harmful discharges to the coasts, more toxic algae, less water to the Everglades, and incalculable economic and environmental losses that harm all Floridians.

Our supporters GOT LOUD and the outpouring of public opposition to SB 2508, including Governor Ron DeSantis who slammed the bill, is forcing the Senate to make changes. We are continuing to super-charge public engagement, fire up the pressure on policymakers, and fight to stop SB 2508 altogether. Join us!

UPDATE: MARCH 8, 2022

SB 2508 IS NOT DEAD YET—FLORIDA SENATE COULD BE BUYING TIME FOR ANOTHER SNEAK ATTACK

Since February 4th, we’ve been fighting to kill SB 2508 and remove the budget “boobytrap” that is holding $320+ million in Everglades restoration funding hostage, contingent on passage of 2508.

We’re seeing deadline delays at the Florida Legislature’s budget conference which has been playing out over the last week, with suspiciously no mention of bad water bill SB 2508. This means the legislative session, which is supposed to adjourn on Friday, March 11th, could now extend through the weekend.

Our take? The Florida Senate may be buying time to pull another sneak attack, ensuring they can negotiate their bad language back into the 2508 with little interference.

Since we were blindsided by this backwards, bad-water policy proposal, we’ve been told by the Florida Senate we were misinformed, misled, and confused. We’ve made two trips to Tallahassee, gathered tens of thousands of petition signatures opposing SB2508, sent thousands of emails and made thousands of phone calls to the Florida Legislature.

The bill was amended a couple weeks ago, removing the worst of the worst, but there are still some items left that absolutely must be removed in these final days of negotiations at the Florida Legislature.

What's Next For SB 2508?

This is the last week of Legislative session and this bill will have to be wrapped up in the next few days and submitted to Governor Ron DeSantis.

Stand up today—even if you’ve already done so—and let the Florida Legislature know that they MUST remove everything harming the Everglades from this bill and they MUST get rid of the budget boobytrap language that holds over $300 million in state funding for Everglades restoration hostage to the passage of this bad bill.

FAQs About Senate Bill 2508

Senate Bill 2508

The annual Florida Legislative Session is a 60-day window (Jan 11-March 11) where the Legislature is convened for the purpose of lawmaking. On February 4th, the Florida Senate filed Senate Bill 2508 late at night, fast-tracking it to a Senate committee vote and stifling opportunity for public input.

What was suspicious about the bill? A wolf in sheep’s clothing
  • Sneak attack: The Senate Appropriations circumvented the legislative process by filing SB 2508 as a “budget conforming bill” which is basically a budget procedure, not meant for substantive policy legislation. This budget procedure, circumvents the legislative committee process and fast-tracks the bill to a vote on the Senate floor.
  • Minimal public involvement: As a conforming bill, there’s only one chance for public comment, not the usual 3-4 committee hearings where the bill would be heard. The Senate Appropriations Committee meeting was held on February 9th, three business days after the bill’s filing. The bill passed 16-4 and heads to it’s last stop on the Senate floor on February 17th.
  • SB 2508 is a procedural bill that was tied to proviso language in the general budget that conditions the passage of SB 2508 to Everglades Restoration money. This is intended to hold hostage state funding for Everglades Restoration, contingent on the passage of SB 2508.
Where does Captains For Clean Water stand on SB 2508?

Captains For Clean Water two major points of opposition:

  1. REMOVE THE BUDGET “BOOBYTRAP”: A section of the overall Senate Budget (SB 2500) is written so that if Senate Bill 2508 does not pass, neither will over $320 million in state funding for Everglades restoration (see General Bill by Appropriations SB 2500, pg 255, Specific Appropriation 1647).This is a trick by the bill’s author (Florida Senate) to veto-proof 2508. It forces the Governor to choose between accepting this bad bill from the Florida Senate or giving up $320+ million to fix our broken water system.
  2. KILL SENATE BILL 2508: SB 2508 is riddled with harmful provisions that threaten Florida’s water quality and Everglades restoration progress. It was amended before it passed out of the Florida Senate on Feb 17th and parts of the bad bill were removed, however, the bad language could get added back during the budget conference. When budget conference commenced, the House had taken up the SB 2508 and deleted the entire bill after the beginning clause. We have been advocating for the Florida House to stay strong and refuse to accept any of the Senate’s language in 2508, thereby killing 2508.
What are your specific concerns with the bill? More harmful discharges
  • Codifies decades-old South Florida Water Management District rules that prioritize water supply for industrial agriculture over reducing harmful discharges
  • Holds over $300M in Everglades restoration funding hostage unless this bill passes

The bill can be read here.

But I’ve heard it doesn’t remove funding from the EAA Reservoir. Is that accurate?
  • Not quite. Even if the amount of funding remains the same, SB 2508 adds three more projects as “priorities” which will deprioritize, dilute funding for, and further delay construction of the reservoir.
  • In this way, SB 2508 seeks to change existing law and contradicts Governor DeSantis’s plan for restoring Florida’s environment. Senate Bill 10, passed in 2017 in response to toxic algae blooms, authorized the EAA Reservoir (not the other projects) and Governor DeSantis made it his priority in Executive Order 19-12 (water policy reform).
Didn’t the bill pass the Senate?

On February 17th, an amendment to Senate Bill 2508 was approved in the Senate by a 37-2 vote, but this does not mean the bill has passed into law. The amendment removed the worst of the worst from the original bill, but there is still harmful language that remains.

Harmful Language Removed:

  • Diminishes priority of EAA Reservoir Project as set forth in the 2017 Senate Bill 10
  • Reduces measurable gains made during the 3-year LOSOM process

Harmful Language Remaining:

  • Codifies into state law a decades-old rule prioritizing industrial agriculture water supply south of the lake over all other users
  • Conditions entirety of annual state Everglades Restoration funding on passage of this bill
Why did the Senate Appropriations Committee say you were misinformed?

SB 2508 is just one example of decades of similar political schemes intended to secure the interests of one powerful interest group—the industrial sugar industry, or “Big Sugar.”

For over 30 years, the federally-subsidized industrial sugar industry has employed the largest and most powerful lobbying force in Florida’s State Capitol, working daily to secure perfect growing conditions, a taxpayer-funded irrigation and flood control system, free water, lack of oversight on pollution, and federal subsidies to produce 1.5 million tons of refined sugar each year.

To protect and advance their political interests, Big Sugar has effectively navigated the political levers behind the curtains at both state and federal levels. They have successfully lobbied to identify and elect political candidates who understand the sugar industry’s political goals and priorities and they invest millions in political contributions to ensure their interests are prioritized—interests that are rarely aligned with the rest of South Florida.

In its very essence, SB 2508 benefits the sugar industry at the expense of all others. The treatment displayed by the Senate Committee to the constituents who showed up to oppose the bill—was intended to manipulate, confuse, and ultimately neutralize their resistance.

This resistance we face is largely the economy of the past. The intent is not to vilify the sugar industry, but they are desperate to keep their control on water management, preserving an antiquated system that benefits few at the expense of many. Rather than acknowledging their contributions to the problem and actively working toward solutions, they fight it completely against the good of today’s economy.

How can we stop it and what can I do to help?

Call and email these Florida legislators and don’t let up until a resolution is reached!

These lawmakers are feeling the heat. They don’t like the negative media attention or the fact that thousands of people are holding them accountable on social media. Don’t let up! Our jobs, our economy, and our way of life hang in the balance.