Water quality has become all the buzz in Tallahassee in recent years. Certainly, Sen. Ben Albritton wants the focus on clean water to stay high.
But as Florida lawmakers battle over project spending in the 2022 Legislative Session, and as the federal government moves forward with a change in discharge schedules for Lake Okeechobee, the long-time agriculture champion hopes water use earns some attention.
As state officials demand a greater say in the handling of Lake Okeechobee and surrounding waterways, Albritton will devote his attention with this perspective in mind.
“My main concern through this entire process is the water quantity piece,” Albritton said. “I agree water quality matters, but when it comes to the rights of Florida to provide water quantity for the region, that’s worth protecting at nearly any cost.”
A citrus farmer before he ever donned a Florida Senate lapel pin, the lawmaker will again devote significant energy to agriculture rules and regulations this Session. A top priority this year will be a bill he sponsored (SB 1000) regarding best practices with nutrient use in Florida farming. The legislation would define rate tailoring for certified professionals in the field, and Albritton expects the topic to inspire “robust discussion” between environmental and agricultural interests.
“I’m sure it’s going to stir up some feelings,” he said.
He also has bills in the works to tackle water rights, agritourism and other arenas of particular significance to his Florida Heartland-centered Senate District 26.
In line for the Senate President’s seat in 2024, the first-term Senator has seen his profile grow since ascending from the House to the upper chamber. He expects to work on broad efforts in the environmental and agriculture space, but also to pursue a long-time passion of children services.
“I am always trying to think how to make the system better,” he said. “We should always be thoughtful when we pass laws that have these statewide implications.”
He is bracing for a tug of war both with the federal government about vaccines and other mandates, and with local entities like school boards regarding masks and other regulations.
But he’s also hoping lawmakers arrive in Tallahassee ready to be civil and cordial: “I just wish a Happy New Year to everyone and really appreciate the grace of everyone in The Process,” he said.
January 10, 2022 at 7:01 am
Big Sugar and the other farmers around lake O need to invest those profits in water saving farming practices instead of the massive lobbying/pressure campaign to get more water they then let run off into the Glades and out the canals that are killing the fish and coral off the east coast of south florida.
If they don’t, we should start charging them for the insane amounts of water they discharge from their property.
January 10, 2022 at 8:39 am
If, it is true as the article states, that Sen. Albritton plans to introduce the concept of water rights into the discussion, that would radically change Florida water law, which now views water as a public resource. The fact that he has not filed a bill yet could lead some people to wonder whether he or the interests he represents are planning a late-session mbush.
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