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As promised, this is a Coalition for Property Rights (CPR) update on SB 1576, Springs Protection Act that is moving through the Senate Committees. The bill passed through the Senate Agriculture Committee and now sits with the Senate Appropriations Committee. CPR has been advocating on our behalf as this onerous bill moves through the committee process.

SB 1576 has passed the Senate Agriculture Committee with amendments. It now sits with the Senate Appropriations Committee, but as of 4/9/14 is not listed on their 4/10/14 agenda. You are encouraged to once again let your opinion about this bill be known to the committee members and to your individual Senators and Representatives.

As Dan says in his newsletter below, “silence is consent”. Please don’t be silent.

As written, it is a bill loaded with serious financial consequences to the state budget, county and municipal budgets, as well as to individual homeowners. Although the intent of the bill is to fund projects that improve water quality in the springs, in fact, most of the millions dedicated in the bill will be spent justifying and funding an added bureaucracy (Responsible Management Entity – RME) designed to take full control of the ownership and operation of our septic systems, and the ability to write rules and set fees for whatever action they feel is necessary. The bill even grants water management districts the authority to identify land for acquisition that, in their opinion, and in the name of public interest, will prevent harm to water quality. There is no provision in the bill to provide oversight of rule-making for either the RME model or for the water management districts.

An eventful week in Tallahassee!

This past Monday afternoon, CPR offered counsel in the Senate Agriculture Committee regarding CS/CS/SB 1576 (CS means committee substitute), Springs Protection.

While agreeing with the importance of protecting Florida’s springs and aquifer, CPRaddressed two negative aspects in the bill: the blaming of septic systems without scientific evidence and a potential new layer of government that could have authority to manage or own one’s septic system.  (If you have read CPR’s last letter you are aware of the property concerns with the bill.)

After the public comment time concluded, Senator David Simmons stood to explain the bill and counter the things CPR had said.  As you may know by now, the committee voted unanimously for the bill.  If you would like to hear or watch a video of the committee meeting you can use the following link and then click on audio or video:

The bill now moves to its next committee of reference, the Senate Appropriations Committee, scheduled to meet next Thursday.  (The agenda has yet to be published.)

Following adjournment of the Agriculture Committee, CPR spoke with Senator Simmons and he graciously agreed to meet.  We met the next day. The bottom line was this: if you don’t like the bill or parts of it, mark it up, change it, or re-write it.  Fair enough.

For the next two days CPR consulted with several experienced and wise stakeholders to put together an alternative bill.  With their invaluable help, an alternative bill was written that will address the concern over springs and the aquifer, streamline the protection/restoration process, and eliminate the threats to private property rights.

Yesterday, CPR was able to offer an alternative bill to Senator Simmons and deliver copies to the other four senators who have spearheaded the bill (Chair Dean and Senators Hays, Montford, and Simpson).

CPR is now waiting to hear back from Senator Simmons.

CPR will let you know when a response is received.

Thank you to the many who have shared your concerns and opinions with the various Senators.  Silence is consent but, your voice makes a difference.

So do your donations.  Yesterday, I saw a newsletter from an environmentalist group  raising money to promote the Constitutional amendment to buy more conservation lands.  They had succeeded in raising more than $25, 000 to match money they had received.

A week ago, a leading property rights advocate and attorney offered a $1,000 donation if four others would match it.  If you would be willing to consider this, please contact me

It’s just a fact,; it takes funding to stand in the gap and fight. Thanks for your consideration.
Dan Peterson, Executive Director