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Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 (2014)

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Amendment 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Florida Constitution
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Environment
Status:On the ballot

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would dedicate thirty-three percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.[1]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official title reads as follows:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Water and Land Conservation - Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands

—Office of the Florida Secretary of State, [2]

Ballot summary

The official ballot text reads as follows:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.

—Office of the Florida Secretary of State, [2]

Constitutional changes

See also: Article X, Florida Constitution

Amendment 1 would add a Section 28 to Article X of the Florida Constitution:[2]

SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund. --
a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:
1) As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.

Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference reads as follows:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

WATER AND LAND CONSERVATION – DEDICATES FUNDS TO ACQUIRE AND RESTORE FLORIDA CONSERVATION AND RECREATION LANDS, #12-04

This amendment does not increase or decrease state revenues. The state revenue restricted to the purposes specified in the amendment is estimated to be $648 million in Fiscal Year 2015-16 and grows to $1.268 billion by the twentieth year. Whether this results in any additional state expenditures depends upon future legislative actions and cannot be determined. Similarly, the impact on local government revenues, if any, cannot be determined. No additional local government costs are expected.

—Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, [3]

Background

The Land Trust Acquisition Fund (LATF) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1963. The LATF was designed to fund the Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Program, which would primarily purchase land for parks and recreation areas. Originally, the legislature allocated revenue from a five percent tax on outdoor clothing and equipment, including bathing suits. In 1968, the legislature abandoned the tax and funded the LATF through the sale of recreation bonds. These bonds were paid for by a documentary stamp tax on real estate transactions and financial documents.[4] Since 2009, however, appropriations for the fund have been slashed. The initiative is an attempt to provide a new revenue source for the LATF.[5]

Support

Florida's Water and Land Legacy Logo 2014.png

The measure is sponsored by the Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc.[6]

Supporters

See also: A full list of supporters

Former officials

  • Former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D)[7]
  • Former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan (D)[8]

Organizations

  • Florida Green Party[9]
  • Sierra Club
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • The Trust for Public Land
  • The Conservation Fund
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • League of Women Voters
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Audubon Florida
  • Conservation Trust of Florida
  • North American Butterfly Association
  • North American Native Fishes Association
  • Florida Wildlife Federation
  • Florida Trail Association
  • Florida Conservation Alliance
  • Florida Conservation Coalition
  • Florida Native Plant Society
  • Florida Outdoor Recreation Coalition
  • Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism
  • Federation of Garden Clubs
  • American Planning Association, Florida Chapter
  • 1000 Friends of Florida
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy
  • Florida Consumer Action Network
  • Progress Florida
  • Democratic Environment Caucus of Florida
  • Democratic Women’s Club of Florida
  • UCF College Democrats

A Florida Water and Land Legacy video supporting Amendment 1.

Individuals

  • Allison DeFoor (R), former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush[10]

Arguments

  • Will Abberger, the campaign chairperson for Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, said, “Having a source of clean drinking water, ensuring that the quality of our rivers, lakes and streams is good, and protecting our beaches, is something that is important enough that it shouldn’t be subject to whatever political winds are blowing in Tallahassee.”[11]
  • Rae Ann Wessel, director of Natural Resource Policy at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, noted, “These are the things that make projects like preservation, conservation, and restoration pay for themselves, not in an obvious way sometimes, but it feeds the economy of Florida which is predominately underwritten by tourism.”[12]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) stated, “I've certainly demonstrated my support for buying easements and accomplishing water and wildlife benefits from the use of acquisition programs. But I'm troubled by writing into the constitution elements of the budget.”[13]
  • David Hart, the executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, argued, “What our board historically has been concerned about is that we don’t follow the path of California, where so many mandates have been put in their constitution that their legislature is incapable of balancing the budget anymore.”[11]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Florida ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • Bradenton Herald said, "Voters will have to wrestle control of land acquisition and conservation away from politicians to put Florida back on the road to preserving land that will safeguard water, wildlife and vegetation. That opportunity exists today… Once a national leader in land conservation, Florida lost its way. Clean water and thriving ecosystems are vital to the state's quality of life and economic prosperity. Future generations will benefit from today's sound investments in public land."[5]
  • The Gainesville Sun said, “But is Florida still an immature society? With a population approaching 20 million, haven't we matured to the point that we ought to be about the business of preserving great swaths of unique Florida landscapes — beaches, wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers — for the benefit of our children and their children?… That's why it'll be up to the voters next year to impose some level of adult supervision over the Legislature's future use and abuse of Documentary Stamp funds.”[13]
  • Ocala Star Banner said, "Lawmakers who say that spending choices should be left in their hands fail to acknowledge their failure to protect Florida's environment. The Florida Forever program had funded conservation purchases, but the Legislature has slashed its funding more than 97 percent since 2009… Now that voters from across the state have helped put the Water and Land Legacy initiative on the ballot, more of us must help it get the 60 percent support needed for passage."[14]
  • The Tampa Tribune said, “There are no longer guarantees that Florida's environment will be adequately safeguarded, and that should concern all residents, as well as business leaders, who know Florida's natural beauty underpins its appeal. This is why voters need to enthusiastically back Florida's Water and Land Legacy Campaign — a drive to place a proposed amendment to Florida's constitution on the November 2014 ballot."[15]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

The initiative’s supporters needed to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by February 1, 2014 in order to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot. Proponents turned in 709,976 valid signatures to the Department of State.[1]

On September 26, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the measure’s language to be accurate, concise and constitutional.[1]

The measure was certified for the ballot on January 17, 2014.[1]

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Support

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Florida Secretary of State, "Water and Land Conservation," accessed January 15, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Florida Secretary of State, "Constitutional Petition Form," accessed January 20, 2014
  3. Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, "Financial Impact Statement," accessed January 20, 2014
  4. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “Land Acquisition Programs”, accessed January 15, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bradenton Herald, "Time for Florida voters to protect natural resources with Water and Land Conservation Amendment," August 28, 2013
  6. Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc
  7. The Gainesville Sun, "Signatures are needed to put Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 214 ballot," September 15, 2013
  8. The Gainesville Sun, "Alachua County among leaders in getting conservation initiative on ballot," January 18, 2014
  9. Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc., "Endorsements & Supporters," accessed January 15, 2014
  10. The Florida Current, "Former Bush advisor becomes chairman of group backing conservation lands amendment," February 13, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Tallahassee Democrat, "Gaetz: Amendment would shift too much land to state control," January 26, 2014
  12. Island Reporter, "Florida amendment to secure conservation funds makes it to 2014 ballot," January 27, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 The Gainesville Sun, "Voters should have chance to invest in state’s natural legacy," December 1, 2013
  14. Ocala Star Banner, "Editorial: It matters to all Floridians," January 24, 2014
  15. The Tampa Tribune, "Up to voters to protect Florida's treasures," August 19, 2013