AMENDMENT 1 It has been almost a year since Florida voters overwhelmingly passed the land and water preservation constitutional amendment. Environmental groups continue to seek court intervention to force their interpretation of the amendment. Recently, two of the environmental steering group committee members joined a suit seeking a Leon County judge’s order to compel Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to transfer $237 million of the State’s general revenue surplus to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
2016 SOLAR ENERGY AMENDMENTS Floridians will be voting on two competing solar energy constitutional amendments during the 2016 November election. Floridians for Solar Choice received unanimous approval from the Florida Supreme Court for its ballot language and now must collect enough verified voter petitions. Meanwhile, Consumers for Smart Solar has reached the required number of verified signatures to trigger the Court review of its language. The first proposal would prohibit barriers to the sale of solar energy by companies other than regulated utilities. The second amendment would codify existing law into the Florida Constitution, therefore prohibiting such sale.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT People United for Medical Marijuana have thus far collected 319,290 verified signatures for their proposed amendment. The measure was sent to the Florida Supreme Court on October 2nd for review. Attorney General Pam Bondi, who opposes the amendment, asked the Court to review its constitutionality as she believes it is contrary to federal law. A hearing is scheduled for December 8th.
SUNRAIL Osceola and Orange County elected officials and business leaders celebrated the $93 million federal grant for the southern extension of SunRail by breaking ground on a new four story parking garage. The new route, which is scheduled to start by December, 2017, will connect southern Osceola County (including the Poinciana area) to the existing commuter rail station in southern Orange County. The Federal Transportation Authority approved the grant for half of the total cost in May. The balance will be paid by the State, Osceola and Orange Counties.
In other SunRail news, Central Florida would like to add a spur that links the existing and proposed line to the Orlando International Airport. The federal government has performed a cursory review of the proposal and determined the concept could be supported. However, no funding is currently available.