1,000 Friends of Florida braces for Session wins to come under Special Session scrutiny

Florida Forever, the Sadowski Trust and VISIT FLORIDA enjoyed wins, but all are at risk.

Leaders at 1,000 Friends of Florida found plenty to celebrate in Florida’s budget as the Legislative Session closed.

Florida Forever was properly funded. The Sadowski Trust evaded a sweep. VISIT FLORIDA even got all the money it asked for and a multi-year lifeline. And that’s before tons of funding for springs and rural lands.

But with the coronavirus pandemic delivering economic consequences that literally can’t be guessed yet, that’s all at risk.

“We are currently expecting an inevitable Special Session,” said Lester Abberger, former 1,000 Friends chair, during a legislative update Wednesday.

Leaders told those listening to the online webinar reflecting on the regular Session that much could change on the spending front. While lawmakers left a record $4 billion in reserves, and despite an expected $8 billion coming to the state from a federal rescue bill, all spending could still be slashed.

A budget has yet to make its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis and he theoretically could delay final decisions until the start of a new fiscal year. But observers of The Process expect lawmakers back in Tallahassee — or convening somehow somewhere as social distancing guidelines are navigated — sometime in June.

For now, the organization is celebrating that DeSantis’ budget request for $625 million in Evergaldes funding was met and that spending will increase the amount of conservation land being purchased.

“This was a triumph in grassroots lobbying,” said Paul Owens, 1,000 Friends President.

With water quality projects, Blue-Green Task Force Recommendations and a crackdown on polluters in some form all approved, Owens credited DeSantis for batting 1.000 with his environmental priorities.

The group celebrated passage of the Clean Waterways Act while acknowledging 50 other environmental group’s concerns.

A clean water coalition has called for the bill to be vetoed because it does little to protect springs, as reported by the Florida Phoenix.

But Owens said the policy was an incremental victory and a better place to build from in 2021.

The organization felt more frustrated with DeSantis and the Legislature over legislation restricting efforts to place constitutional amendments on the ballot. That bill, already signed into law, could make amendments like the one that established Florida Forever in the first place harder to get in front of voters.

The group hopes to see DeSantis veto legislation including a preemption of local sunscreen bans.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn