Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia and Democratic Rep. Nick Duran are teaming up on a bipartisan measure to generate funding to preserve Biscayne Bay via new specialty license plates.
The two Miami-based lawmakers have filed companion legislation (SB 860 and HB 501) creating a “Protect Biscayne Bay” specialty tag. Up to 10% of the funds generated from the plates would go to marketing, promotion and other administration costs. The rest would be used “to raise awareness and support the mission and efforts of conserving Biscayne Bay.”
“Our economy is inextricably linked to the health of our environment and our water quality,” said Garcia, who is leading the Senate effort in her first year as a lawmaker. “This license plate is a step in the right direction in our efforts to preserve and protect Biscayne Bay.”
The Biscayne Bay estuary has dealt with serious pollution problems recently, resulting in large fish kills and causing other harm to its ecosystem. Miami-Dade County has designated the bay as a conservation area, and the region serves as a popular tourist hub in Miami-Dade.
“Clean water is at the heart of our state and community’s identity and continued prosperity,” Duran added.
“Our state has a role in the management of Biscayne Bay. A specialty license plate will help generate funding to help toward the goal of preserving, protecting and revitalizing Biscayne Bay. This has been successfully used in other parts of the state to help provide funding to protect other important bodies of water and I’d like to see that happen here with Biscayne Bay.”
Other license plates have been created for similar efforts to help the Tampa Bay Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. The Miami Foundation, a local charity organization, would help manage the funds generated under the initiative.
“A healthy Biscayne Bay is crucial to a healthy Miami-Dade,” said Miami Foundation President and CEO Rebecca Fishman Lipsey.
“As our environmental jewel and an economic engine, Biscayne Bay is at the heart of our recovery as a community. Our Miami is fueled by tourism, real estate, and aquatic recreation like boating and fishing – all of which demand clean water and a clean Biscayne Bay. We must invest now to protect this natural resource not only for ourselves but for generations to come.”