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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and 90.7 WMFE.

Conservation groups brace for "session of sprawl," as Legislature convenes next week

Florida's state capitol building front elevation
Florida's state capitol.

A new bill before the Florida Legislature would prohibit local regulations on water quality and instead hand that authority over to the state.

Conservation groups say the bill is one reason why they are describing the upcoming legislative session as, “the session of sprawl.”

The groups say multiple bills would undermine smart development as Florida experiences explosive growth and the 2022 hurricane season illustrates the need for sustainability.

Other measures would, for instance, prohibit local referendums on development regulations. Gil Smart of VoteWater says the bill stripping local authority over water quality concerns him most.

“Now we’re going to say, you can’t do that? It’s ludicrous, and it does go back to sprawl on wetlands in particular, if all of a sudden we can destroy wetlands, well guess what else that permits. Guess what that allows.”

Meanwhile Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an executive order earlier this year that, among other things, prioritizes sustainable growth. The legislative session starts March 7.

“These bills, these legislators, almost seem to be going directly against what the governor himself said he wanted in the executive order," Smart said. "That’s pretty gutsy, I think.” 

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.
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