A Senate panel approved a measure Monday to establish the Biscayne Bay Commission, which would help manage and coordinate public projects in the area.
Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia is sponsoring the bill (SB 1482). The Senate Environment and Natural Resources advanced the measure Monday.
“When I was sworn into [the] Florida Senate last November, I made a promise to my constituents to be a champion for a precious and unique environment,” Garcia told senators. “I want to see the beautiful Biscayne Bay protected and preserved for generations to come.”
The proposed commission would be made up of local government officials, environmental experts and other local representatives. Garcia said the body aims to “coordinate all public policy and projects related to the Biscayne Bay; unite all governmental agencies, businesses and residents in the area to speak with one voice on bay issues; and act as a principal advocate and watchdog to ensure that bay projects are funded and implemented in a timely manner.”
The legislation would also bar sewage disposal facilities from dumping waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.
Republican Rep. Bryan Avila is backing the companion bill in the House (HB 1177).
The Biscayne Bay Commission would have three components: a policy committee containing experts and officials, a chief officer to advise the county and a working group made up of other local interests.
The policy committee would hold most of the commission’s power, consolidating existing conservation plans and monitoring their implementation. The group would also seek grants to help see work to fruition.
The policy committee would hire a chief officer, who would represent the Biscayne Bay Commission in advising the County Mayor and other local officials on recommended policies and plans. The working group would consist of local businesses and civic associations, along with “all governmental agencies that have jurisdiction in the Biscayne Bay area.”
Garcia has also filed a bill to create a a specialty license plate, which would generate funds for Biscayne Bay preservation efforts.