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Miami state senator introduces bill requiring sea level studies on coastal development projects

A state senator and congressional candidate says it’s time for Florida to have a unified strategy for sea-level rise.

To make his point this legislative session, he’s wearing rain boots in the Senate.

"Where I’m coming from—a coastal district in Miami-Dade County —this is part of the job now," said Sen. José Javier Rodríguez. "It doesn't have to rain very much and there's flooding."

The Miami native represents District 37, which includes parts of Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Key Biscayne and downtown Miami.

Rodríguez, a Democrat, is running to fill the U.S. Congress seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who's retiring at the end of 2018. In the meantime, this legislative session, Rodríguez has filed a bill that would require builders using public funds to do sea level rise impact studies before starting construction.

The measure would also require Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to develop statewide best practices for communities dealing with sea level rise.

That could be a turning point in a country where many leaders refuse to acknowledge the fact that human activity causes global warming, and in a state that once made headlines after reports that officials were forbidden from using the term "climate change."