Legislative Update – November 20, 2015

The last week of interim committee meetings will be the week of November 30 and the 2016 Legislative Session will begin on January 12.  The latest APA Florida Bill Tracking Report as of November 20, 2015 can be viewed here.

Note the following:

CS/SB 190 (Senator Hutson), which would delete a requirement that an exemption for a conservation easement must be renewed annually, was moved favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee on November 19.  It has been placed on the Calendar on 2nd Reading.  An identical bill, HB 501 (Representative McGhee), was filed on November 2 and is now in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.

CS/SB 304 (Senator Stargel), which would prohibit a local government from enforcing a local ordinance or other regulations prohibiting or restricting certain agritourism activities, was moved favorably by the Senate Community Affairs Committee on November 17.   The strike-all amendment added civic and ceremonial activities to the enumerated types of agritourism activities under s. 570.86, F.S.; specified that lands classified as agricultural under s. 193.461, F.S., cannot be divested of that classification as long as the land remains used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes; and specified that the bill exempts agritourism activities from local regulations in unincorporated areas.  CS/HB 59 (Representative Combee) is a similar bill but it does not limit the enforcement prohibition to un-incorporated areas.

Both the House and Senate comprehensive water bills have moved through committee.  CS/CS/SB 552 (Senator Dean) was moved favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee, its final committee of reference, on November 19.  CS/HB 7005 (House State Affairs Committee) was moved favorably by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on November 18.

HB 749 (Representative Raburn) was filed on November 19 and moves certain regulatory authority for agricultural burning and commercial feedstuff to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).  However the bill also revises the definition of “conservation easement” to allow the surface use of such lands to remain “in an agricultural condition, such as livestock grazing in accordance with applicable best management practices” adopted by DACS. The bill has not yet been referred to any committees.

SB 788 (Senator Sachs) was filed on November 9 and would require, instead of authorizing, FDOT to establish a grant program to fund local, regional, and state bicycle and pedestrian projects that support the Safe Paths to Schools program.  The bill has been referred to three committees.

On another note, Governor Scott will release his proposed 2016-2107 budget in Jacksonville on November 23.  The announcement can be read here.