The Senate has unanimously approved a measure establishing the Biscayne Bay Commission to help oversee public projects and rehabilitate the bay.
GOP Sen. Ileana Garcia is behind one version of the bill (SB 1482). Prior to Monday’s vote, the Senate and House versions differed. But on the floor, Garcia moved to swap in the already-passed House version, which was approved via a 40-0 vote.
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 bar sewage disposal facilities from dumping waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.
Under the measure, a 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. The House approved its version of the bill (HB 1177) backed by Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, during a floor vote last week.
With the two versions now in line, 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, assuming he signs the bill into law.
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 share of seats on the proposed commission cut over time.
“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 during the committee process. “I want to see the beautiful Biscayne Bay protected and preserved for generations to come.”