Florida Legislature

brklynnnovember via Flickr Creative Commons

The results of Florida’s 2018 Legislative Session, which ended earlier this month, were a mixed bag when it comes to priorities for the state’s environmental advocates.  Governor Rick Scott’s budget priorities prior to the start of session came out strongly in favor of environmental issues, and in the end lawmakers appropriated $100 million for the state’s primary conservation land-buying program, “Florida Forever.”  Although that amount is less than what environmental advocates had been hoping for, it is still an improvement over the zero dollars allocated to the program in 2017.  Meanwhile, a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’,(HB237 /SB462) went down in defeat for another year.  Lawmakers also approved a measure (SB1402/HB7043) that transfers wetland protection authority in the federal Clean Water Act away from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and into the hands of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  Proponents say the move clears away unnecessary red tape for development permitting, but opponents worry it will reduce environmental review and protections for the state’s sensitive wetlands.  We’ll get perspective from Audubon Florida’s interim Executive Director Julie Wraithmell and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Environmental Policy Director Nicole Johnson.

Alliance for the Arts

As WGCU News has been reporting this week, the Florida Legislature’s newly approved budget includes severe cuts to cultural affairs programing. The new nearly $89 billion dollar budget would almost completely defund the Culture Builds grant program from the Division of Cultural Affairs

Rachel Iacovone / WGCU

The Florida Legislature approved a new budget over the weekend that has disheartened arts advocates across the state, including some at a Southwest Florida arts center, who expressed their disappointment just after the news broke.

PETA / Wikimedia Commons

As we head into the final week of Florida’s 2018 lawmaking session, our legislative roundtable series continues today with a series of conversations about hot-button issues, ranging from gun control to women’s reproductive rights to animal welfare.

MEREDITH GEDDINGS / FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

As we enter the seventh week of Florida’s state-lawmaking session, our legislative roundtable series continues in a conversation with State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, who represents Senate District 28 which covers portions of Collier, Hendry and Lee Counties.  We spoke with Sen. Passidomo the morning after last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. 

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