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House Backs Everglades 'Legacy' Bill

Sunset frames kayaker at Everglades National Park
Steve Newborn/WUSF
Sunset frames kayaker at Everglades National Park

The House voted 117-1 on Wednesday to approve its version of the "Legacy Florida" bill (HB 989), which would provide 10 years of funding for Everglades restoration.

The measure will now have to be negotiated with the Senate. The House proposal would provide at least $200 million a year for already-identified projects intended to restore the Everglades.

The latest Senate proposal (SB 1168) would provide $145 million in annual Everglades funding and $50 million a year for the state's natural springs.

Also, the Senate bill would provide $5 million a year for Lake Apopka and $5 million a year for Kings Bay or Crystal River.

Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach, cast the lone vote against the House measure, which lawmakers said will reduce the discharge of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into nearby estuaries.

Senators, including bill sponsor Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who is slated to become Senate president this fall, said Monday they intend to push for higher numbers as budget talks continue.

The money for the work would come from the state's land-acquisition trust fund, which is used to carry out a 2014 constitutional amendment that requires a portion of documentary-stamp taxes to be set aside for land and water buying and preservation.

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