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Tuesday, 16 June 2015 10:02

Amendment 1 lawsuit filed

Written by  News compiled by Team SCPA

Updated June 27, 2015

Amendment 1, cont'd. UPDATE

Conservationists cry foul on Amendment 1 funding

Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer, June 26, 2015

Florida voters have been betrayed.

At least that's what former Lee County commissioner Ray Judah contends happened with passage of the state budget in the last week. Lawmakers, including those representing southwest Florida districts, approved some $79 billion in spending that environmentalists say largely ignores conservation and water quality.
Conservationists say funding approved by state voters in November to purchase large chunks of land for water quality projects has been diverted or restricted, violating the intent of Amendment 1, the measure to boost spending on land and water conservation in Florida.

Instead of directing millions in Amendment 1 funding to restrict freshwater overflow in the Caloosahatchee River into the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, lawmakers used the funds for payroll at agencies that oversee Florida environmental programs. ...


State lawmakers sued over Amendment 1 spending

Story by Al Pefley/CBS12

TALLAHASSEE (CBS12) -- Florida lawmakers are getting slapped with a lawsuit.

Several environmental groups say they did not follow the wishes of voters, who voted for Amendment 1 and want the state to buy up conservation land.

Some say Florida is developing too much land, and the state needs to buy up  land, to conserve it, before developers can get their hands on it.

Seventy-five percent of the voters approved Amendment 1 last fall.

Now environmental groups are suing state lawmakers, saying lawmakers used the money that was supposed to be spent to buy conservation land on other things. …


Lawsuit filed over Amendment 1 spending

Sun Sentinel, by David Fleshler, June 22, 2015

Environmental groups filed suit Monday over what they said was the Florida Legislature's massive misappropriation of funds intended to buy and protect wilderness.

The Florida Wildlife Federation, St. Johns Riverkeeper and Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida sued over the budget for money accumulated under the new land-buying amendment to the Florida Constitution called Amendment 1. …

… But the budget adopted last week by the Legislature would spend more than $300 million of the money on salaries, vehicles and other expenses not allowed by the amendment, the groups said. Only $88.7 million would to toward land acquisition, according to the lawsuit. ...


Posted June 16, 2015

Amendment 1, cont'd.

Lawsuit could be brewing against state over Amendment 1 funding

Miami Herald, by Craig Pittman and Michael Auslen, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau, June 15, 2015

The problem: The ballot measure, Amendment 1, dedicated more than $700 million for conservation and preservation. Environmentalists had hoped that lawmakers would approve at least $300 million to buy conservation and preservation lands.

Instead, lawmakers carved up the money for other projects, including millions for an agricultural giant.

Sponsors of Amendment 1 said the weekend agreement earmarks only $17.4 million for the acquisition of parks and wildlife habitat under the state program Florida Forever.

“This is an insult to the 4.2 million voters who voted Yes for Amendment 1,” said Will Abberger, chairman of Florida Water and Land Legacy, the Amendment 1 sponsor committee. “Last November Florida voters to sent a loud and clear message to the legislature: make funding for conservation land acquisition a priority. The legislature is ignoring Florida voters.”

Abberger and Audubon of Florida executive director Eric Draper said they were exploring “all options”, which could include legal action against the Legislature for violating the intent of Amendment 1.

Even one of the top negotiators of the agreement, Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said a legal challenge is certain.

“I’m not a lawyer, but in this world we live in today, I am confident of one thing and one thing only, and that is that there will be litigation,” Lee said.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli defended the Amendment 1 spending plan.

“The budget shows it covers the acquisition of land and water,” Crisafulli said. “That was the overall premise of Amendment 1, and I certainly believe that what we’ve put in play achieves that.”

Yet lawmakers want to spend about half the Amendment 1 money on projects and programs that have historically been paid for out of other parts of the budget. After Gov. Rick Scott signs a budget, it won’t be clear exactly how his Department of Environmental Protection will spend the money the Legislature allocated for it. Much of the spending plan is vague. …


Legislature's' midnight madness redefines 'transparency'

Tampa Bay Times, by Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, June 16, 2015

Just before midnight at Florida's Capitol, legislators reappeared in public to put the finishing touches on an $80 billion-or-so budget that now awaits the formality of an up-or-down vote by lawmakers and a review by Gov. Rick Scott. Vendor-driven language dealing with replacing portable statewide police radios, creating a pilot online education program and a $1 million handout to the beef and beef products industry.

Now that's pork! ...

… Legislative leaders insist that they and not bureaucrats know how to best allocate taxpayers' money because they understand the needs back home, and they traditionally hoard a secret stash of public money to fund the wish lists of powerful members.

So projects suddenly sprouted more zeroes, such as the $2 million for the "IMG Campus Expansion" for a privately-owned youth sports training center in Bradenton that had appeared as a $50,000 line item on Saturday. A $500,000 grant to the Urban League that had been quietly mumbled into the budget over the weekend swelled to $2 million. But there would be no public explanation of why taxpayers' money was being divvied up like this.

Projects that were rejected two days earlier in budget areas that had been closed out suddenly sprang back to life, like a $1 million appropriation for expansion of the Charlotte County Justice Center. Millions of dollars for solid-color school uniforms appeared -- a priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island that had been discussed in the regular session in March. Many projects appear noble, such as $400,000 for an elderly meals program for seniors in Nassau and Duval counties. …



Four million Florida voters should be angry!
Compiled news reports related to Amendment 1 spending...

Compiled by Team SCPA


Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:43
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