2021 Florida Legislation and Budget Appropriations of Interest to Coastal Stakeholders

by Tom Ankersen, Legal Skills Professor and Director, Conservation Clinic & Florida Sea Grant Legal Program, University of Florida Levin College of Law

Below is a summary of state bills and budget allocations passed during the 2021 legislative session of relevance to coastal stakeholders, curated by UF’s Government Relations professionals who work hard to keep us informed during the session.

Recap on the state’s legislative session 2021 related to marine and coastal Issues

A total of 118 bills passed the house and the senate Chambers, 6 have been signed by the governor as of 5/3/2021.

The state budget totals $101 Billion and includes major funding for water quality and environmental protection programs, including Resilient Florida Grants, septic-to sewer grants, Piney Point, beaches, coastal mapping, water quality initiatives, and Everglades restoration. $1.1 billion is contingent upon receipt of federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Summary of the budget can be found here.

  • Everglades restoration $360.1 million
  • Resilient Florida Grants – $500 million
  • Wastewater Grant Program – $500 million Senate Appropriations Committee Federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • Wildlife Corridor (DEP Land Acquisition) – $300 million
  • Piney Point – $100 million
  • Coastal Mapping Services – $100 million
  • Beach Management Funding Assistance Program – $50 million
  • Petroleum Underground Storage Cleanup Program – $50 million
  • C-51 Reservoir – $48 million
  • Alternative Water Supply – $40 million
  • Springs Restoration – $25 million
  • Small Community Wastewater Grants – $25 million
  • Derelict Vessel Removal Program – $25 million
  • Total Maximum Daily Loads – $20 million
  • FWC Enhanced Aviation Support – 8.4 million

SB1954 Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience: Establishing the Resilient Florida Grant Program within the Department of Environmental Protection; requiring the department to complete a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise data set and assessment by specified dates; requiring the department to develop an annual Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan and submit the plan to the Governor and Legislature by a specified date; requiring the department to implement a scoring system for assessing projects eligible for inclusion in the plan, etc.

SB 2516 – Water Storage North of Lake Okeechobee: Requiring the South Florida Water Management District to request that the United States Army Corps of Engineers seek congressional approval of a project implementation report for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project by a specified date; requiring the district, in partnership with the corps, to expedite the development and implementation of aquifer storage and recovery wells; requiring an annual appropriation from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, etc. Effective Date: Upon becoming a law

HB1177- Biscayne Bay: Establishes Biscayne Bay Commission; provides for commission purpose, membership, duties, & authority; prohibits sewage disposal facilities from disposing of any wastes into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment. Effective Date: upon becoming a law

HJB1377- Limitation on Assessment of Real Property Used for Residential Purposes: Proposes amendment to State Constitution to authorize Legislature to prohibit consideration of changes or improvements made to real property used for residential purposes to improve property’s resistance to flood damage in determining assessed value of such property for ad valorem taxation purposes

SB 976 – Protection of Ecological Systems: Protection of Ecological Systems; Creating the “Florida Wildlife Corridor Act”; requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to take certain actions to support the Florida wildlife corridor; requiring the St. Johns River Water Management District, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, Seminole County, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Department of Transportation, to issue a report that includes information and updates regarding the implementation of recommendations from the Little Wekiva Watershed Management Plan Final Report dated November 2005 by a specified date; requiring the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management district to review certain permits along the Little Wekiva River, etc. Effective Date: 7/1/2021

SB1086 Operation and Safety of Motor Vehicles and Vessels: Revising conditions under which a person’s driving privilege is suspended and under which the person commits a misdemeanor relating to tests for alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances; requiring the clerk of the court to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles of certain final dispositions by electronic transmission; providing circumstances under which a person may operate a human-powered vessel within the boundaries of the marked channel of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway; designating Monroe County as an anchoring limitation area subject to certain requirements; authorizing a county or municipality to establish a boating-restricted area within and around a public mooring field and within certain portions of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway, etc. Effective Date: Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, this act shall take effect July 1, 2021

HB223-Marina Evacuations: Prohibits vessels under specified weight from remaining in certain marinas that have been deemed unsuitable for refuge during hurricane after issuance of hurricane watch; requires marina owner, operator, employee, or agent to remove specified vessels; provides that such owner, operator, employee, or agent may charge vessel owner reasonable fee for such removal & may not be held liable for any damages as result of such removal; provides that owners or operators of certain vessels may be subject to fine that deep water seaport issuing evacuation order may impose & collect. Effective Date: July 1, 2021

SB 1946- Anchoring Limitation Areas: Providing that certain areas are grandfathered-in anchoring limitation areas; authorizing certain counties to establish anchoring limitation areas that meet certain requirements; specifying size requirements for the anchoring limitation areas; prohibiting vessels from anchoring in such areas for longer than a specified time; requiring counties to provide notice to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission within a specified timeframe before introducing an ordinance to establish an anchoring limitation area; prohibiting Monroe County from establishing an anchoring limitation area until the county meets certain requirements, etc. Effective Date: Upon becoming a law.

Wanted to search more topics: Visit the Florida House Bills for Regular Session Page.

End of session Summaries are not yet posted but can be found here once they are

Florida House Speakers summary of the session related to “Protecting the Environment and Preparing Florida”

“We need to bring the same long-range planning and strategic discipline to our environmental programs that we bring to our transportation work plan.” – Speaker Sprowls, Nov. 17, 2020

  • SB 1954 (HB 7019), “Always Ready,” by Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera, is the most ambitious plan in the nation to mitigate impacts of flooding and sea level rise; and
  • HJR 1377, by Representative Linda Chaney, is a constitutional amendment that will give Floridians a property tax break for flood mitigation improvements.