U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed a series of bills today aimed at tackling a wide range of issues important to the people of Florida – from protecting the state’s tourism-driven economy from the threat of offshore oil drilling to improving low-income housing and helping citrus growers recover from the devastating effects of a deadly citrus disease known as greening.
Among the measures Nelson introduced today are:
- The Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act. In 2006, Nelson and then-Sen. Mel Martinez successfully brokered a deal to ban oil drilling off much of Florida’s Gulf Coast through most of 2022. As a result, a no-drilling zone currently extends 125 miles off much of Florida’s Gulf Coast and as far as 235 miles at some points to protect vital military training areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This moratorium is in effect until June 30, 2022. The legislation Nelson filed today would extend that ban for another five years, from 2022 to 2027. Text of the bill is available here.
- The Housing Accountability Act. To help thousands of low-income families living in federally-subsidized housing such as Eureka Gardens in Jacksonville and Windsor Cove Apartments in Orlando, Nelson today re-filed legislation he first introduced last year to hold the owners of low-income housing complexes more accountable for poor living conditions. Nelson’s bill would, among other things, require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to survey the tenants of these housing complexes twice a year about property conditions and management performance. It would also create new penalties for property owners who repeatedly fail these tenant surveys. Text of the bill is available here.
- Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act. To help Florida’s citrus growers replant millions of citrus trees lost to citrus greening, Nelson re-filed legislation today that would allow growers to immediately deduct the full cost of planting new trees, instead of over a 14-year period as required by current law. Citrus greening has been blamed for killing crops across the country, including more than 160,000 acres in Florida since 2005. Nelson’s bill would encourage growers to start the process of planting some of the nearly 20 million new trees experts say will be needed to get Florida’s citrus production back to the level it had reached nearly 10 years ago, before the greening disease began to ravage the state. Text of the bill is available here.
- Counterterror Alert Act. Nelson today re-filed legislation he says may have prevented the tragic mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had it been in effect prior to the incident. The bill, which Nelson initially filed last summer shortly after the tragedy, would ensure that the FBI is alerted if a suspected terrorist tries to purchase a firearm. It came to light shortly after the Pulse nightclub attack that the gunman responsible for that attack had once been on a terrorist watch list. Nelson’s bill would ensure that any individual who is, or has been, investigated for possible ties to terrorism is entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which gun shop owners use to run checks on prospective gun buyers. And it would require that the NICS system automatically notify the appropriate division of the FBI if a background check is conducted for a prospective buyer who is, or has been, investigated for potential ties to terrorism. Text of the bill is available here.