Dear Friends of Florida’s waters:

Good news for you today!!! I just came from the Legislature where a good thing came out of some very stubborn, mean behavior by the Speaker of the House, Crisafulli.  I am so glad that I got to see it all first hand because some of our friends that didn’t see it all were very confused, understandably, by what happened and how it happened.  Before I give you some details, the good news is that the bad fracking bills are dead.

The House passed its version of the main fracking bill yesterday but not the secret chemicals bill.  It was on the schedule to be heard this morning so I planted myself in the House and waited, even after they jumped over it and went on to many other bills. I was determined to be there when they acted on it.  A little after 1 pm, Speaker Crisafulli took the podium and was obviously fuming.  He was struggling to keep his composure.  He explained how the horrible Senate President was using the expansion of Medicaid or not – as leverage to get to the budget.  Crisafulli said hell would freeze over before he expands Medicaid (more or less).  Anyway, the long and short of it, was that he ended the House session right then and there. sine die.  Without passing the secret chemicals fracking bill.  Yeah!!!

Then I went straight over the the Senate and just as I walked in, they took up the House fracking bill for consideration.  Sen. Richter was working hard to convoke everyone that he’s out to give us fracking and protect the environment, blah, blah, blah.  Sen. Gwen Margolis, bless her 80 year old heart tried to tell Richter that the House had gone home and that the Senate could not amend the House bill.  Richter was undaunted and pressed on. There was a lot of back and forth and I could see a gang of pro-fracking Senators ganging up on Sen. Latvala who had vowed to not vote for the fracking bills anymore. They pulled him out of the room for a few minutes.  Sen. Dean and Sen. Montford asked questions about the amendments and it was looking like all the Republicans who had promised to vote against the bill were planning to cave in. As my heart was sinking my mind was asking “how can they amend the House bill at this point?”  Finally Speaker Gardiner said, look folks the House has gone home and we cannot amend their bill.  We are going to TP this bill.  And that was that.  They moved on to other bills.  Yeah!!! I went to the restroom but on my way back out to leave I saw Sen. Latvala stand up and proceed to tell how he and Sen. Dean and the others had cut a deal with Richter to get the House bill amended so that all the Republicans could support the House bill.  He was lamenting that the rug got pulled out from under them by the House going home before they could vote on the amended House bill and get it back over to the House for their approval.  If the Senate had acted sooner and gotten the amended House bill back over to the House just a few minutes earlier, the bad fracking bill would have passed in both Houses.  whew!!!! Now you see what I mean by a good thing came out of Crisafulli’s little melt down.

In theory, the Senate could still pass the House version of the fracking bill. However, I will be surprised if Senators Latvala, Dean, Montford and others will agree to the House version without any amendments to make it more palatable to them.  It is still a bad bill, but they were wanting to compromise with Richter.

AND in addition to that good news, there is more!!! The Florida Springs Council just let us know that Senate President Gardiner has pronounced the water bill (SB 918 / HB 7003 / HB 653) dead for the year.  This is very wonderful news as these bills would have done a LOT more damage to Florida water policy than any good.  The extremist in the House were so focused on giving away our state resources to special interests, that they defeated their own evil work.  We are grateful for the few wise people that we have in the Florida Legislature (and believe me they are few and far between).

Thank you for the important work you are doing.  Today your hard work paid off!!!

For all of Florida’s waters,
Linda Young, Executive Director
Florida Clean Water Network
P.O. Box 5124
Navarre, FL  32566

About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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