Legislature gives final approval for renaming conservation area after Kristin Jacobs

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Jacobs focused her career on the environment before passing away last year after a cancer battle.

The Legislature has signed off on a new measure honoring the late Rep. Kristin Jacobs. The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would rename a conservation area after Jacobs.

The Senate took up the House version (HB 217), which was already approved last month. Senators approved the measure unanimously 40-0. That means the legislation will next head to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

Democratic Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation sponsored the Senate companion version (SB 588). Wednesday, Sen. Annette Taddeo also motioned to allow other senators to join as co-sponsors. All 40 members of the Senate agreed to do so.

“Environmental action was central to who Kristin was as a person,” Book told senators Wednesday. “The state of Florida is a more environmentally focused and friendly place because of Kristin’s work.”

The measure would rename the Southeast Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area the “Kristin Jacobs Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area,” Jacobs dedicated her legislative career to environmental issues before battling a cancer diagnosis. She died in April 2020.

“She was truly one of the most caring, loving people that we’ve ever had in this process, or that we’ve had in our lives,” House Democratic Leader Gary Farmer said.

“Her devotion and her knowledge of all things related to the environment was just incredible, and we owe so much to her.”

Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, Jacobs’ successor in House District 96, sponsored the House version (HB 217).

The Southeast Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area runs along the coast near Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The measure requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to place markers along the path noting the name change.

During debate, Sen. Loranne Ausley recounted a text she received from Jacobs, where Jacobs reflected on memories of being outdoors while camping, canoeing and diving down to coral reefs.

“I can think of no greater honor than to name one of those coral reefs after our dear friend, Kristin Jacobs,” Ausley said.

In the final weeks of the 2020 Legislative Session, as Jacobs was nearing the end of her life, she helped push through a measure banning the import and export of shark fins in Florida.

The Legislature approved that bill, renaming it the “Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act.” Jacobs died the next month. DeSantis signed the legislation into law last September.

“Kristin not only fought to preserve Florida’s natural treasures, she worked hard to ensure public access to, and enjoyment of, those resources whenever and wherever she could,” Book added Wednesday.

Sen. Tina Polsky served with Jacobs in the House for two years before Polsky won a Senate seat last November.

“She was one of the first people I met when I started this process,” Polsky said. “She was really an incredible person.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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