A bill designed to better prepare Florida’s response to the impacts of sea level rise and flooding advanced through the Florida House the Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee yesterday with unanimous support, garnering praise from the House Speaker.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said, “We are a low-lying state surrounded by water on three sides, and that water is flowing into places it shouldn’t. Flooding is a real threat to people’s homes, businesses and livelihoods. The success of our state is inextricably connected to the proper management of water. In order to protect Floridians, we are advancing a suite of bills to address the effects of flooding — one of the most pressing issues of our time. I look forward to seeing today’s bill and others continue to move through the Committee process and to the floor.”
A press release issued by the Speaker’s office called the “Always Ready” proposed committee bill carried by Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Miami, “the cornerstone” of the Speaker’s flooding and sea level rise mitigation agenda.
The bill outlines several steps to mitigate flooding issues across the state. It includes a $100 million per year starting in 2022-2023 to mitigate the effects of flooding and sea level rise and Florida’s first-ever three-year Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan to be updated annually by the Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally the bill includes a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise assessment by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to inform the Resilience Plan.
It calls for the Resilient Florida Grant Program to provide funds to local governments that would cover the costs of planning for and addressing threats from flooding.
The bill also provides the opportunity for regional resilience coalitions to form to plan for the resilience needs of communities and coordinate intergovernmental solutions and a “Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation” to collaborate between academic and research institutions to address the state’s flooding challenges.
Sprowls first unveiled his flooding and sea level rise agenda during a February 26 press conference at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
“Thank you to Speaker Sprowls and to Chair (James) Buchanan for their leadership in this transformational legislation. It is time to act, we can’t wait any longer,” said Cabrera. “It is time to protect our communities, our homes, our businesses, and make sure that we aren’t leaving our future generations with nothing. It is time to make sure that we are Always Ready.”
The proposed committee bill will next be assigned a bill number and referred to committees. The bill can be viewed here.