State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) presented and passed SB 944 Land Acquisition Trust Fund through its first committee. [Read more…] about Senator Linda Stewart Favorably Passes Land Acquisition Trust Fund Through First Committee
Land Acquisition Trust Fund
Refusing to accept the lack of progress in meeting the voters’ mandate, State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has begun efforts to restore critical funding to Florida Forever, assuring the popular land buying program is poised to begin protecting the state’s environment by early next year.
“Seventy-five percent of the voters who approved Amendment 1 in 2014 did so to restore the Florida Forever funding,” said Senator Stewart. “We need to set aside the land to provide the natural systems and services tied to our quality of water.”
Stewart is seeking to set aside 25 percent of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund annually for land acquisition in the Florida Forever program. The program is Florida’s blueprint for conservation of our unique natural resources and is the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. In 2014, about 4.2 million voters demonstrated the pulse of the public for dedicated funding for land and water conservation when they approved Amendment 1.
But efforts to dedicate state funding earmarked under Amendment 1 for land purchases have been stymied since its passage, leading to sharp criticisms of the legislature’s disregard of the voters’ will.
Seeking to reverse the funding raids and lock-in an early commitment, Senator Stewart reached across the aisle to enlist Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, and has indicated his support. “I would like to see us do more for Florida Forever than we do right now,” he said. “I look forward to working with you on Florida Forever and other environmental issues.”
Senator Stewart said that Senator Bradley’s assurances are promising and lay the groundwork for legislative efforts to finally comply with the constitutional provision Florida voters approved. “This could be a bigger and greater bill for next year,” Stewart said.