New legislative efforts
Climate change is also on the mind of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature this year as the state again attempts to formalize a new approach to the study of its potential effects, especially sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Legislators began discussions this past week at the Capitol on a series of proposals.
When Governor DeSantis took office two years ago, he created by Executive Order the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and established the state’s first Chief Resiliency Officer (CRO) position. Efforts to formalize and expand that into state law – and provide dedicated funding – failed in the last legislative session. The CRO position has been vacant for the past year with its duties temporarily falling to DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein.
Senator Ray Rodrigues (R-Lee) filed SB 514 last week that establishes the Statewide Office of Resiliency within the Governor’s Office. It also creates the Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force within the resiliency office and authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to contract for specified services, upon request of the task force. The nine-member Task Force would create baseline projections on expected sea-level rise and its flooding impact on our coastlines.
The bill also requires the Environmental Regulation Commission to take certain action on the task force’s recommendations. The bill contains an appropriation of $500,000. A similar proposal passed the Senate in 2020 but failed to get through House committees. We’ll be following this year’s effort in our Bill Watch, included in this newsletter.
LMA Newsletter of 1-18-21