Florida Senate Passes SB 10; without the Land Grab

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, after three hours of debate the Florida Senate passed SB 10 Water Resources with a vote of 36-3.  The final version includes two amendments while five failed.

The bill went through some necessary changes last week in the Appropriations Committee as well as with debate today.

The initial plan called for buying 60,000 acres of active farmland with the threat of Eminent Domain if they didn’t find enough willing sellers.  In a recent interview, Senator Marco Rubio agreed this was preposterous as he pointed out the move would clearly “wipe out” these communities.

In addition, the plan’s initial price tag was $2.4 billion, with half supposedly coming from the Federal government.

The final bill passed with Eminent Domain off the table.  The use of 60,000 acres of privately owned and active farmland is also off the table.  And, they are promising to only use existing state-owned land while the price tag has been reduced to $1.5 billion with $1.2 billion of it with a bonding authority.

The Federal government, though, is still expected to chip in.  But, as we covered last week, Senator Rubio admitted, “there is no federal money for it.”

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, House Speaker Corcoran isn’t quite on board yet:

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, said last week that while he thinks the changes made by Negron and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee were an improvement, he refrained from saying he would support the bill because it continues to open the door to allowing bonding for the purchase of additional land.

“We’re not bonding,” Corcoran said. “I didn’t say we’re going to go along with it. I said it’s getting better and better.”

Yes, I’m very pleased the threat of eminent domain is gone, the destruction of farming communities while confiscating 60,000 acres of active long-term-job-producing land is no longer an option, the promise of already-existing state-owned land is to be used and the price tag has been cut.

But, I’m still not convinced we need to obligate taxpayers to so much debt while government cost estimates are never accurate, the federal government has not guaranteed they (which is still taxpayer money) intend to pay their portion, and the science community is still not entirely convinced this is the only option.