By JASON BRODEUR
Representing Seminole County and part of Orange County
As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government (AEG), preserving Florida’s natural habitat and beauty is one of my top priorities.
I am proud to say that during the 2023 Legislative Session, I was able to successfully pass many pieces of environmentally conscious policy and budget measures. In my district, I was able to secure $8 million for local water projects, in addition to $3.9 million for the continued restoration of Lake Jesup.
These appropriations funded many initiatives – from drainage, sewer, and wastewater treatment improvements to nutrient management plans in our local lakes and the recharging of our aquifers.
But I did not stop at the local level. In the Senate, I sponsored the companion to the environmental protection bill, HB 1379. Included within this bill was an annually recurring appropriation of $100 million to the Florida Forever Act, as well as implementing a statewide 10-year plan for septic-to-sewer conversation to further protect our BMAP areas from nutrient runoffs.
I love this state – Florida’s wildlife and natural beauty are what set it apart from other parts of this country, and the unique landscape is what makes this place special. While preserving Florida’s environment is an end in itself, our natural systems are a driving force for tourism in the state.
This is why I was happy to pass SB 106, which enhances the state’s trail system with the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The bill increases recurring funding for the Shared Use Non-Motorized (SUN) Trail Network from $25 million to $50 million and provides a non-recurring appropriation of $200 million to plan, design, and construct the SUN Trail Network.
Looking ahead, I plan to continue working alongside the Department of Environmental Protection to secure additional support for our Septic-to-Sewer Conversion program and work with stakeholders to find innovative ways to mitigate the introduction of forever chemicals right at the source of our water treatment plants.
Additionally, the legislature has recently started picking back up, and with that, more initiatives will begin to surface, thus tacking on the list of our 2024 goals.
Throughout my childhood, I have spent summers on lakes, hiked through Wekiva, and encountered my fair share of bears, deer, and coyotes. For this, it is a great honor to have been the former Chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resource Committee and now the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee on AEG.
As our Committee meetings begin, bills start to get filed, and new issues emerge, I will always advocate for programs, funding, and legislation that will help us ensure that future generations will be able to appreciate the environment that we are all enjoying now, as I did when I was younger. ●