A coalition of 28 business organizations is the latest to come out against a proposed constitutional amendment that supporters of the amendment say would ensure that “every person has a right to a clean and healthful environment.”
The business groups — representing such industries as agriculture, retail, building and contractors, roofing, realtors, insurance, trucking, and petroleum — have sent a letter to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) urging commission members to reject the proposal saying it would threaten Florida’s business environment.
“CRC Proposal 23 would provide any person, not just Floridians, the ability to litigate “against any party, public or private” if they feel their right to a “clean and healthful” environment is threatened,” the business groups wrote in their letter to CRC.
“By granting this broad right to challenge any government entity, business or private citizen—even if they are in full compliance with existing laws or valid permits—CRC Proposal 23 would allow delay or defeat of currently legal activities in our state,” they added.
Proposal 23 is one of dozens of proposed amendments that the CRC is considering. The commission meets once every 20 years to look at the Florida Constitution and recommend changes. The commission will decide which of the proposed amendments will be placed on next year’s ballot for the voters to decide.
The proposed amendment would add the following paragraph to the Constitution:
The natural resources of the state are the legacy of present and future generations. Every person has a right to a clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water; control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the environment as provided by law. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations, as provided by law.
The last sentence of the proposal is especially troubling for the business groups. They believe the wording would open the door to well-funded, out-of-state groups and individuals who wish to impose their agendas on Florida’s environmental regulatory process.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce came out against the proposal earlier this fall.
“While responsibly protecting our natural resources is essential, the Florida Chamber believes that this constitutional proposal will impose opaque demands on Florida’s sustainable growth as well as become a vehicle for a potentially limitless number of lawsuits,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson in a letter sent in October to the CRC.
Proposal 23 is scheduled to be up for a vote in the CRC’s Judicial Committee Tuesday afternoon. The business organizations are urging its defeat saying the amendment is not needed.
“Numerous Florida laws and regulations already exist to protect our citizens and their right to clean air and water,” the groups wrote to the commission. “CRC Proposal 23 is unnecessary and would do nothing more than create prolonged and harmful uncertainty for Florida businesses.”
Here are the 28 business groups that signed the letter to the CRC in opposition to Proposal 23:
- Associated Builders & Contractors of Florida
- Associated Gas Distributors of Florida
- Associated Industries of Florida
- Association of Florida Community Developers
- Florida Beverage Association
- Florida Cattlemen Association
- Florida Citrus Mutual
- Florida Farm Bureau
- Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association
- Florida Forestry Association
- Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
- Florida Homebuilders Association
- Florida Insurance Council
- Florida Natural Gas Association
- Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA)
- Florida Petroleum Council
- Florida Ports Council
- Florida Propane Gas Association
- Florida Pulp and Paper Association
- Florida Realtors
- Florida Retail Federation
- Florida Roofing & Sheet Metal Contractors Association
- Florida Transportation Builders Association
- Florida Trucking Association
- Florida United Businesses Association (FUBA)
- Manufacturers Association of Florida
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
- Southeast Milk, Inc.