FL Water/Land Legacy Petition
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Posted by: Jon Shiver
Armed with a clipboard and a pitch about the importance of Florida's
environment, Pembroke Pines retiree Darryl Rutz has collected nearly
1,600 signatures on a petition to amend the Florida Constitution to lock
in funding for environmental protection.
Florida's Water and
Land Legacy Inc. is promoting an amendment to establish a steady source
of funding to protect wilderness and water. It has gathered more than
700,000 signatures to put the amendment on the ballot in the November
The amendment, backed by more than 300
environmental and civic organizations, would set aside one third of the
revenue from real estate stamp taxes to pay for programs to acquire
land, protect water and clean up the environment. Stamp tax revenue had
been used for such programs in the past, but since the recession, the
money has gone to fund other state programs.
"The environment is
very important to me," said Rutz, a member of the Broward chapter of
the Sierra Club. "I want my kids and my grandkids to enjoy what I did.''
no organized opposition has emerged, some are skeptical of the value of
reducing legislators' flexibility in allocating state funds.
have been a lot of well-intentioned ideas of trying to fix a problem by
changing the Constitution," said Dominic Calabro, president and chief
executive officer of Florida TaxWatch. "If you put something in the
Constitution, you can't make appropriate and necessary adjustments."
campaign has two weeks before a self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to gather
enough signatures. Although the legal deadline is Feb. 1, organizers
say they want to turn them in early to get them certified in time.
need about 683,000 valid signatures but are aiming for 910,000, since
they assume many will be disqualified. About 107,000 signatures
submitted so far have come from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach
The proposal would raise an estimated $648 million in its first year.
we're trying to do is make sure future generations of Floridians can
enjoy clean water and wildlife and beaches, just as we do today," said
Will Abberger, director of conservation finance for the Trust for Public
Richard Grosso, director of the Environmental and Land
Use Law Clinic at Nova Southeastern University, said environmental
protection meets the high standard for inclusion in the state's basic
"It's fundamental enough to the future of
the state of Florida that our Constitution should require that we always
have an adequate land-buying program," he said. "It's not a luxury in
Florida, it is basic to the protection of the future of the state, and
it should not be subject to the ebbs and flows of the political