Legislation setting up the Biscayne Bay Commission to help rehabilitate the bay is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.
Lawmakers approved the measure (HB 1177), sponsored by GOP Rep. Bryan Avila, during the final week of the 2021 Legislative Session. 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 set up a commission to “unite all governmental agencies, businesses, and residents in the area to speak with one voice on bay issues; to develop coordinated plans, priorities, programs, and projects that might substantially improve the bay area; and to act as the principal advocate and watchdog to ensure that bay projects are funded and implemented in a proper and timely manner.”
The nine-member Biscayne Bay Commission would be established within the Department of Environmental Protection. The bill also bars sewage disposal facilities from dumping waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.
The Senate and House disagreed at various times throughout Session on the precise makeup of the nine-member panel. Ultimately, the two chambers agreed that the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners will select three of its own members to serve on the Biscayne Bay Commission. The Governor would 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 would go to a Miami-Dade County League of Cities member.
“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,” said Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia last Session as she sponsored the Senate version (SB 1482).
“I want to see the beautiful Biscayne Bay protected and preserved for generations to come.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis will have until June 16 to act on the legislation.