Senate President Joe Negron’s SB10 farmland “land grab” bill was dead on arrival last week until legislators injected an amendment that scrapped the land buyout provision from the controversial piece of legislation. Following months of objections from conservatives and residents from the Glades farming communities, the bill now uses existing state-owned land to build a reservoir instead of buying additional land.
Now proponents of the bill are urging all senators and Florida House of Representatives to reconsider their support for the bill, especially as the costly land buy and “eminent domain” wording has been stricken from the plan.
Despite these changes, concerns remain over the way the bill is financed and also the lack of federal support.
Although Speaker Richard Corcoran believes the changes have made the bill “better,” he is still not committing to fully embracing it, saying that he was hung up on the bonding, which Negron has said is necessary to fund the project.
“We’re not bonding. Bonding is an issue… didn’t say we’re going to go along with it. I said it’s getting better and better.”-Speaker Richard Corcoran (News Service of Florida)
Negron has also been advocating for federal taxpayer dollars to help subsidize costs of the billion dollar project.
Before the amendments, members of the U.S. Congress, including Representatives Daniel Webster (R) and Matt Gaetz (R), as well as Senator Marco Rubio, all said that there wasn’t money available for the project.
Even with the recent changes, the bill will still require up to $750 million in federal support.
Rubio tore into Negron’s bill by calling it nothing more than a farmland job-killing endeavor that would “wipe out” the communities that existed in the original bill, while Gaetz called it “eminent domain.”
Outside groups like Americans for Prosperity and 60 Plus, who oppose excessive and unnecessary government spending, are also expressing their opposition to SB10.
60 Plus echoed what both Rubio and Gaetz have recently said about the bill, saying the bill would “evastate the local farming community eliminating an estimated 4,000 plus jobs, bond billions of dollars creating enormous debt for taxpayers.”
The group’s vice President, Apryl Marie Fogel, is focusing on the “bonding issue” that Corcoran says is a non-started.
“…All the while bonding 1.5 billion, yes billion with a B, dollars that will result in additional debt that taxpayers will be paying for decades – yet still will not likely pay for the cost of the water storage the bill desires to have constructed, which could cost many times more.
Where will all this money come from? The taxpayers! The billions of dollars needed for this one project could put other important budget items, like healthcare, at risk. While the Senate is proposing to spend billions on this project, they have also proposed cutting millions for important community health services, seniors centers and alzheimer’s clinics.
And this is only one project, in one part of the state, that no one can say for certain will actually address the algae issues happening along the coast. SB 10 is a highly irresponsible approach being pushed by legislators and environmental groups whose single interest seems to be having as much land as possible owned by the state, not actually protecting Florida’s water and certainly not protecting Florida’s seniors.”
The environmental group Fogel is referring to is the Everglades Foundation led by Erik Eikenberg.
SB10 is expected to be taken up by the full Senate on Wednesday. Senators will approve the bill, but the real test for Negron and the Everglades Foundation will be over in Corcoran’s House.