Legislation that expands sea-level rise studies and grants passed its last committee this week in the House.
“This is the most exciting bill on this agenda, because it is the last bill on this agenda,” Parkland Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky said as the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee took up her bill.
The bill (HB 111) directs the Resilient Florida Grant Program to provide money for local governments to conduct feasibility studies and cover permitting costs for nature-based solutions to the impact of flooding and sea-level rise.
It also expands funding to cover water management districts’ efforts supporting local government adaptation planning.
“Given the broad threat of sea-level rise to Florida goes beyond just the coastal areas, this bill expands the areas where these studies are required to anywhere deemed at risk due to sea level rise,” Hunschofsky said.
Public entities currently have to conduct a sea-level impact projection study before beginning construction on state-financed coastal structures. HB 111 enlarges that requirement, mandating those entities conduct a similar study if any “potentially at-risk structures or infrastructure” is within an area at risk to sea-level rise.
That covers historical and cultural assets, along with critical assets as defined in state law, which covers a vast amount of government facilities and areas of responsibility.
“The bill defines an ‘area at risk due to sea-level rise’ as any location that is projected to be below the threshold for tidal flooding within the next 50 years by adding (sea-level rise) using the highest of two local (sea-level rise) scenarios, which must include the 2017 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intermediate-low and intermediate-high (sea-level rise) projections,” according to the House staff analysis.
Representatives of the American Flood Coalition, the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association and the Sierra Club waived in support.
“When we look at leveraging local government efforts to reduce flooding, make us more resilient, and ensuring that our taxpayer money is being spent well as it relates to these (sea-level impact projection) studies it’s tremendous,” Osprey Republican Rep. James Buchanan said.
The bill awaits scheduling for a vote in the full House.