Q&A of the Day – What’s actually in Florida’s “Resiliency” legislation?

Q&A of the Day – What’s actually in Florida’s “Resiliency” legislation?

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Today’s entry: Brian, little help here on all of this “resiliency” talk. I keep hearing about how great it is that the state is going to combat sea level rise yada, yada but no one talks about the specifics. What’s really in this thing?

Bottom Line: That’s a good question. In part because we don’t really know yet. Part of the reason you’ve likely heard more platitudes than specifics is because we don’t have a final plan yet. Governor DeSantis advocated for one plan which was the basis for what’s been proposed in the Legislature, but wasn’t proposed exactly as he outlined. And as for the House and Senate bills, they haven’t yet cleared all committees where amendments could occur. So, it’s still a bit of a guessing game what might happen here. Ordinarily I wouldn’t wade too far into speculative territory but there are enough knowns here to discuss at least some of what’s all but certain to be part of an eventual law. These are proposals that are consistent with what Governor DeSantis has proposed and are also included in both the House and Senate proposals:

  • Creation of a grant program which would fund “resilience” planning outlined by local governments
  • Would task Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection with guidelines for eligibility and oversight of the state’s resilience program in addition to the creation of a statewide recommended plan for addressing sea-level rise
  • All plans would have to be updated annually based on current conditions and new information
  • The creation of a Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research within the University of South Florida’s Marine Science Center
  • Mandating that Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research use the available annual reporting information in its planning and reporting (which is used for budget purposes)

Now, it’s possible, even likely, that more than those five changes take place as part of final legislation – but those at a minimum are likely to happen.. Incidentally, it appears the most likely funding level at the onset for the resiliency grants will be $100 million. Governor DeSantis had floated numbers as high as $1 billion previously but the pandemic likely will start it at a fraction of that number. On balance, it seems like a pretty reasonable proposal. The state would create an annual blueprint for local governments to consider. Local governments would then submit their specific proposals for combating sea-level rise/flooding issues and grants will fund approved projects through Florida’s Department of Environment Protection. Ongoing research to be used by all entities would be provided through a new research arm at USF. At this stage it appears to be a pragmatic approach that would be dynamic...as opposed to just assuming some of the dire projections out there and planning to build an ark or something.

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