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 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.[1]

The Land Acquisition Trust Fund would be expended to acquire and improve conservation easements, wildlife management areas, wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores, recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area. The fund is designed to manage and restore natural systems and to enhance public access and recreational use of conservation lands.[1]

The leading organization campaigning for the initiative is Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc.[2]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official title reads as follows:[3]

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

[4]

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary reads as follows:[3]

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.

[4]

Constitutional changes

2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 1
Amendment 2
Amendment 3
Endorsements
Local measures
See also: Article X, Florida Constitution

Amendment 1 would add a Section 28 to Article X of the Florida Constitution:[3]

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.[4]


Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference reads as follows:[5]

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. [4]

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.[6] Since 2009, however, appropriations for the fund have been slashed. The initiative is an attempt to provide a new revenue source for the LATF.[7]

Support

Florida's Water and Land Legacy Logo Updated2014.png

The measure is sponsored by the organization Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc.[2]

Supporters

See also: A full list of supporters

Former officials

  • Former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D)[8]
  • Former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan (D)[9]

Organizations and Businesses

  • 1000 Friends of Florida[10]
  • Alachua Conservation Trust
  • Audubon Florida
  • The Conservation Fund
  • The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
  • Conservation Trust for Florida
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Everglades Foundation
  • Florida Conservation Coalition
  • Florida Wildlife Federation
  • Green Party of Florida
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Rails to Trails Conservancy
  • Sierra Club
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Alliance of Florida Land Trusts
  • American Planning Association, Florida Chapter
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy
  • Apalachicola Riverkeeper
  • Brasington's Adventure Outfitters
  • Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (Riverwatch)
  • Collany Properties
  • Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
  • Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida
  • Democratic Women’s Club of Florida
  • Destination Orlando
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance
  • Emerald Coastkeeper
  • Federation of Garden Clubs
  • Florida Consumer Action Network
  • Florida Native Plant Society
  • Florida Outdoor Recreation Coalition
  • Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism
  • Florida Trail Association
  • Florida Trust for Historic Preservation
  • IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions)
  • Indian Riverkeeper
  • League of Women Voters of Florida
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Live Oak Production Group
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • North American Butterfly Association
  • North American Native Fishes Association
  • Paddle Florida
  • Pinewood Properties, Inc.
  • Plum Creek
  • Progress Florida
  • Reef Relief
  • Save the Manatee Club
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy
  • South Florida Wildlands Association
  • St. Johns River Alliance
  • St. Johns Riverkeeper
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • Tampa Bay Conservancy
  • Tampa Bay Watch
  • Urban Environment League of Greater Miami

Individuals

  • Allison DeFoor (R), former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush[11]
  • Edward Osborne "E. O." Wilson, academic sociobiologist and conservationist[12]

Arguments


A Florida Water and Land Legacy video supporting Amendment 1.

Allison DeFoor (R), former vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida and former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush (R), called on conservatives to support the amendment. He said:

I support Amendment 1 because, without raising new taxes, it will enhance sources of drinking water, manage fish and wildlife habitats, add and restore lands, protect beaches and shores and maintain state and local parks...

Supporting Amendment 1 falls squarely in line with my belief that conservation is all about conservative values and ideas. Conservation is, by definition conservative. Republicans have a long tradition of it, nationally and in Florida. Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush were leaders. In Florida, Gov. Bob Martinez created Preservation 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush created a similar effort, Florida Forever. In Jacksonville, Mayor John Delaney led the way in local conservation, creating a legacy that will continue for generations. All Republicans, like me...

Conservatives believe that government spending should be directed first toward the limited number of things that only government can do well. Securing a clean water supply and the conservation of lands falls in the wheelhouse of this definition.

Conservatives also believe that, whenever possible, government funding for these essential functions should not rely on higher taxes to get there.

Finally, conservatives believe that public spending should be tied to measurable returns on investment. In the case of Amendment 1, if clean water and preserved lands for future generations isn’t enough, consider the impact of these assets on Florida’s No. 1 economy: tourism. Fundamentally, only Hawaii and Alaska have their economy and environments as deeply tied together as we do in Florida.

On top of that, it’s important to remember that every segment of Florida’s economy depends on the natural beauty that draws people and businesses to our state. Without pristine waters and unspoiled landscapes, Florida will lose the special appeal that has fueled our growth and prosperity.

Amendment 1 fulfills these principles: It ensures that our state dedicates adequate dollars into the most essential of public goods — protecting our waters and conserving our lands; it “lives within our means” by ensuring that taxes aren’t raised to do so; and it provides an earnest return on investment for generations to come...

If the people of Florida approve Amendment 1, we will together have secured our common interest in the most clear and direct way. And to this old Florida cracker, there’s nothing as conservative as that. [4]

—Allison DeFoor, [13]

Other arguments in favor of the amendment include:

  • 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.”[14]
  • 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.”[15]

Campaign contributions

As of July 8, 2014, Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc. has received $3,462,876 in contributions.[16]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc. $3,462,876 $2,682,742
Total $3,462,876 $2,682,742

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
The Trust for Public Land $458,157
Gladys G. Cofrin $406,000
Paul Tudor Jones II $250,000
Florida Wildlife Federation $212,870
Jape Holley Taylor $200,000

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.”[17]
  • 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.”[14]
  • Bernard E. "Barney" Smith, the board chair of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, said the documentary tax, which would fund the conservation fund, is currently utilized for "transportation and housing trust funds — funds that have proven to consistently stimulate Florida’s economy and create jobs." Therefore, the conservation fund would hurt other programs that currently utilize revenues from the documentary tax.[18]

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."[7]
  • 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.”[17]
  • 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."[19]
  • 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."[20]

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 1.4 Florida Secretary of State, "Water and Land Conservation," accessed January 15, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc, "Homepage," accessed June 30, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Florida Secretary of State, "Constitutional Petition Form," accessed January 20, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, "Financial Impact Statement," accessed January 20, 2014
  6. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “Land Acquisition Programs”, accessed January 15, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bradenton Herald, "Time for Florida voters to protect natural resources with Water and Land Conservation Amendment," August 28, 2013
  8. The Gainesville Sun, "Signatures are needed to put Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 214 ballot," September 15, 2013
  9. The Gainesville Sun, "Alachua County among leaders in getting conservation initiative on ballot," January 18, 2014
  10. Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc., "Endorsements & Supporters," accessed June 11, 2014
  11. The Florida Current, "Former Bush advisor becomes chairman of group backing conservation lands amendment," February 13, 2014
  12. Vote Yes on 1 Facebook, "E.O. Wilson declares his support for Amendment 1! ," May 16, 2014
  13. Miami Herald, "Why conservatives should support Amendment 1 ," June 4, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Tallahassee Democrat, "Gaetz: Amendment would shift too much land to state control," January 26, 2014
  15. Island Reporter, "Florida amendment to secure conservation funds makes it to 2014 ballot," January 27, 2014
  16. Florida Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance," accessed July 8, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 The Gainesville Sun, "Voters should have chance to invest in state’s natural legacy," December 1, 2013
  18. The Florida Times-Union, "Saturday's Lead Letter: Amendment 1 is misguided," May 16, 2014
  19. Ocala Star Banner, "Editorial: It matters to all Floridians," January 24, 2014
  20. The Tampa Tribune, "Up to voters to protect Florida's treasures," August 19, 2013