Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls introduced new legislation to mitigate effects of flooding and sea level rise in the state.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday at the water’s edge on the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus, Sprowls rolled out legislation that will dedicate $100 million each year starting in 2022-2023 to address the realities of sea level rise and flooding in the Sunshine State.
“Today, we are announcing the most robust agenda to mitigate flooding and sea level rise that the State of Florida has ever seen,” said Sprowls. “As a low-lying state surrounded by water on three sides, Florida is particularly vulnerable to the risk of flooding. With sea level rise, we are seeing that risk grow exponentially – from storm surge and tidal flooding to groundwater and flash flooding – the impacts are devastating. In order to protect Floridians in their homes, their backyards, and their communities, we are introducing a suite of bills to address flooding – one of the most pressing issues of our time.”
The proposed committee bill, known as the “Always Ready: Flooding & Sea Level Rise Act,” outlines several steps to address flooding and the rising sea level across the state. The proposal would create the Resilient Florida Grant Program to provide funds to local governments that would cover the costs of planning for and addressing threats from flooding and sea level rise. The bill would also create Florida’s first-ever three-year Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan and would also direct the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct a statewide flood assessment to identify risks and determine where resources should be spent.
Furthermore, the legislation would establish the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation to work with academic and research institutions and would also encourage the formation of regional resilience coalitions to plan and coordinate intergovernmental solutions to combat the state’s flooding and sea level rise challenges.
This morning we rolled out our Always Ready flooding and sea level rise agenda w/ several members @RalphMassullo, @RepBuchanan, @RepDBC, Rep. Chaney, @JeffreyBrandes and @isayray. Good ideas come from all sides, & for that we thank @Robin_Bartleman for her contributions to this! pic.twitter.com/KQ6DD7Qr6L
— Chris Sprowls (@ChrisSprowls) February 26, 2021
Sprowls was joined at today’s presser by colleagues from the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, including State Representatives Ralph Massullo, James Buchanan, Demi Busatta Cabrera, and Linda Chaney, as well as State Senators Ray Rodrigues and Jeff Brandes.
Massullo, a Republican who represents House District 34, is sponsoring the measure.
“This transformational public policy that prepares Florida to deal with the implications of sea level rise and flooding will be an example for the rest of the nation,” said Massullo, who chairs of the House State Affairs Committee. “This legislation protects our homeowners from flooding events that upend lives, as well as our state’s businessowners – the backbone of our economy. We know that 40% of small businesses that close after a natural disaster never reopen; this legislation is intended to ensure that a flood event does not become a long-term disaster that forces businesses to shut their doors permanently.”
Sprowls concluded today’s announcement noting that the bipartisan initiative, which includes contributions from Democratic State Representative Robin Bartleman, is an important step in making Florida the leader in flood mitigation.
“To meet the challenges of flooding and sea level rise, we must ensure that our communities are better prepared for the future. This legislation will protect Floridians, their homes, and the businesses that drive our growing economy. Together, we can build a stronger and more resilient Florida,” said Sprowls.