Bad For Water, Bad For Florida: Gov DeSantis, Veto HB 359/SB540!

Governor Ron DeSantis

Tuesday the Florida legislature passed HB359/SB540, a bill which will turbocharge sprawl by  forcing citizens to pay financially ruinous attorney fees to prevailing parties if they challenge bad development decisions in administrative court.

The Hold The Line Coalition, community groups, environmental organizations, and citizen's advocates have been unanimous in opposing this bill at every stop in the House and Senate. As this bill has advanced in what is becoming the "Session of Sprawl", we now must count on the Governor to honor his stated commitments from Executive Order 23-06 to support long-term planning and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program.

This bill is bad for water, bad for the Everglades, and bad for Florida. Tell Governor DeSantis to uphold his pledge to support sustainable growth expressed in EO 23-06 and veto this bill.

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To: Governor Ron DeSantis
From: Emily Hale

We the undersigned citizens of Florida respectfully request you veto HB359/SB540 in the interest of preserving local residents' control of development decisions, protecting our water, Florida's endangered lands, and our investments in Everglades restoration as these long-term projects begin to deliver benefits to our imperiled ecosystems.

The language of this bill undermines or directly contradicts several of the priorities you committed to in Executive Order 23-06. This Order was particularly encouraging because it protects local communities' ability to make prudent development decisions through the comprehensive planning process. Local communities are often the most vigilant defenders of water resources and remaining wild spaces. Several bills passed or considered this session eroded local governments power to express community preferences for land preservation, compact design, and to combat traffic congestion that degrades Floridians' quality of life.

Most troubling is a measure that directly attacks the ability of citizens to mount administrative challenges to legally flawed development decisions. Language in the bill awards prevailing party attorney fees, forcing citizens with good faith concerns to choose between their exercising their right to a day in court and the potential financial ruin when confronting deep-pocketed developers and lobbyists.

It is not the intent of the American legal system to bankrupt citizens and reward litigators disproportionately on narrowly-decided, highly technical cases. Within the context of so many bills undermining the objectives of Order 23-06 seeking to balance growth with quality of life, it is imperative that Floridians access to the courts not be unduly infringed.

To preserve citizens' access to the court system, to further shared objectives of local community control, and to preserve Florida's natural resources for generations to come, it is imperative that you exercise your Veto power and reject HB359/SB540.

Thank you for honoring the commitments you made in EO 23-06 and for using your authority to defend Floridians' rights.