This will complement last week’s land use/growth management legislative summary.

The 2013 Florida Legislature passed several environmental bills during its regular session that ended May 3, 2013. We have identified and summarized those that will be of interest to our clients and others interested in Florida environmental law.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact an attorney on Gunster’s environmental and land use team.

Environmental bills

The Florida Legislature passed a limited number of bills impacting environmental regulation. Importantly, two of the most significant pieces, companions HB 703 & SB 1464, and companions HB 1313 & SB 1576 did not pass. HB 703 & SB 1464 were the wide-ranging environmental bills touching on topics including duplicative regulation, consumptive use permitting and solid waste facilities. HB 1313 & SB 1576 were comprehensive legislation regulating springs across Florida, including provisions for the creation of springshed boundaries, baseline flow pattern development, completion of Basin Management Action Plans, adoption of fertilizer ordinances, and septic tank connection by local governments. Although this legislation failed in 2014, it will likely resurface next year. Water issues are predicted to be a legislative priority for the 2015 legislative session, particularly with the interest expressed by incoming House Speaker Crisafulli.

Below is a summary of some of the key points from the bills that passed this year.

HB 325 (Brownfields)

HB 325 clarifies the procedures for brownfield designation under the Brownfields Redevelopment Act. The bill also provides additional liability protection from property damage claims for entities responsible for rehabilitating brownfield sites.

If approved by the governor, the bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

HB 7171 (Establishing Minimum Water Flows and Levels for Water Bodies)

HB 7171 exempts rules that the DEP set establishing minimum flows and levels for the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers from the statutory legislation ratification requirement.

This bill will take effect upon the approval of the governor.

HB 7093 (Department of Environmental Protection)

HB 7093 revises multiple statutes to comport with changes made to the Petroleum Restoration Program and rehabilitation of contaminated sites. The bill also revises permit requirements for coastal construction and excavation, and requires the DEP adopt rules to establish criteria and guidelines for permit applicants.

If approved by the governor, the bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

SB 846 (Governmental Ethics)

SB 846 requires lobbyist registration prior to lobbying a water management district. Each lobbyist will also be required to disclose his/her client and the client’s main interests. Water management districts may adopt rules establishing procedures to govern the registration of lobbyists, including the adoption of forms and the establishment of a lobbyist registration fee.

If approved by the governor, the bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

SB 536 (Reclaimed Water)

SB 536 requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a comprehensive study regarding the expansion of the beneficial use of reclaimed water, stormwater, and excess surface water in the state. The bill further requires the DEP to hold at least two public meetings to gather input and also provide an opportunity for the public to submit written comment. The report is due by December 1, 2015.

If approved by the governor, the bill takes effect July 1, 2014.

HB 7091 (Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

HB 7091 allows agricultural lands participating in a dispersed water storage program pursuant to a contract with the DEP to retain an agricultural classification for the duration of the inclusion of lands in such program or successor programs, and requires those lands to be assessed as nonproductive agricultural lands. If the land is diverted to a nonagricultural use, it must be assessed as any other nonagricultural land.

If approved by the governor, the bill takes effect July 1, 2014.


Budget allocations were made for the following environmental projects:

  • $172 million toward Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration
  • $88.5 million for local water projects
  • $47.2 million for beach restoration projects
  • $12.5 million for Florida Forever (plus $40 million for possible nonconservation land sales)
  • $5 million for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program
  • $50 million for Florida Keys wastewater improvements
  • $110 million for DEP petroleum site cleanups
  • $30 million for springs (including $5 million in agricultural spending)
  • $35.7 million for expanded agricultural water programs
  • $6.5 million for cleaning up dry cleaning contamination sites

The budget was submitted to the governor on May 20, 2014. He has until June 4 to decide whether to accept or veto each of these allocations.

This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

Established in 1925, Gunster is one of Florida’s oldest and largest full-service law firms. The firm’s clients include international, national and local businesses, institutions, local governments and prominent individuals. Gunster maintains its presence in Florida with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Florida Keys, Vero Beach and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. Gunster is home to more than 150 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, providing counsel to clients through 18 practice groups including banking & financial services; business litigation; construction; corporate; environmental & land use; government affairs; health care; immigration; international; labor & employment; leisure & resorts; private wealth services; probate, trust & guardianship litigation; professional malpractice; real estate; securities and corporate governance; tax; and technology & entrepreneurial companies. Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 350 largest law firms.


Find a Professional

by Name

by Practice/Office