A Senate bill setting up a commission to help oversee Biscayne Bay improvement projects is heading to the floor after the Appropriations Committee signed off on the measure.
GOP Sen. Ileana Garcia is sponsoring the legislation (SB 1482). The House approved its version of the bill (HB 1177) backed by Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, during a floor vote last week. But a Wednesday amendment to the Senate bill shows there are still differences between the two versions.
Under the measure, the nine-member Biscayne Bay Commission would help coordinate public projects in the area and work to secure funding for those efforts. The body will be established within the Department of Environmental Protection.
The two chambers have disagreed at various times throughout Session on the precise makeup of the nine-member panel. But during last week’s House vote, Avila put forward an amendment bringing the two versions together on that point.
The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners will select three of its own members to serve on the Biscayne Bay Commission. The Governor will name one appointee. A member of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Board who lives in Miami-Dade County would also serve. The Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Inland Navigation District would each select one member as well.
The final slot goes to a Miami-Dade County League of Cities member. That organization has seen its seats on the proposed commission cut over time.
Wednesday saw yet another change thanks to Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo. Pizzo proposed that Miami-Dade County League of Cities member must be a resident of a city neighboring Biscayne Bay. Moreover, the group “must nominate a member from each city that borders Biscayne Bay on a rotating basis,” to the extent practicable, according to Pizzo’s amendment.
Senators approved that amendment Wednesday. That once again causes the two bill versions to diverge.
Miami-Dade County has designated Biscayne Bay as a conservation area, but the popular tourist spot has still dealt with serious pollution problems. The new legislation would also bar sewage disposal facilities from dumping waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.