Communication Builds Our Community

Guest Editorial: Bill in Florida Legislature Would Block Local Government Efforts to Prepare for Storms

Bad Legislation Runs Rampant in Tallahassee

Next week, the Florida Legislature is holding a special session to address a number of topics ahead of the regularly scheduled 2024 session that begins in January. We are concerned with provisions in SB 2-C/ HB 1-C "Disaster Relief" that would prevent local governments from amending comprehensive plans or land development regulations, precluding local leaders from enacting policy changes to make their communities more resilient and safer from storm damage in the future.

SB 2-C/ HB 1-C extends provisions from a bill passed in the Legislature's last regular session, SB 250, that we believe are misguided (read our veto request letter here). This special session bill would compound the mistakes of SB 250 by extending the storm damage impact area from the initial 100-mile radius from landfall for Hurricanes Ian or Nicole to include all the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota. The bill also would prolong the preemptive nature of SB 250 by two years, preventing local governments in these counties from making changes to their comprehensive plan or land development regulations before October 2026.

In Governor DeSantis's Executive Order 23-06, he directed Florida's Chief Resilience Office and Department of Environmental Protection "to build upon our efforts protecting Florida communities from flooding, sea level rise, and future storm events." This provision of SB 2-C/ HB 1-C undermines this goal by nullifying local efforts to adopt land-use changes that promote greater community resilience, and protect lives, property, and public dollars from future storms.

This bill will move quickly. Due to special session rules, fewer legislative committees will publicly discuss and debate the bill, leaving fewer opportunities for citizen input. The bill is on the agenda of the Senate's Fiscal Policy Committee on Monday, November 6 at 11:30 a.m. and on the House Appropriations Committee agenda that afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

Please join us in urging legislators to remove this provision from the bill and give local leaders the authority to make planning decisions that make the most sense for recovery and resilience in their communities.

Please click here to send your thoughts to members of the House Appropriations Committee.

To reach members of the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee, please use this link.


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