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Water-Related News

Bill limiting membership on Soil and Water Conservation District boards en route to Governor

The bill limits membership to to wealthy landowners and their employees.

The Legislature Wednesday passed a bill that would limit membership on the boards of Soil and Water Conservation Districts to landowners in the state and their employees.

The bill (SB 1078) would require candidates for Soil and Water Conservation District boards, a volunteer public office, to either be agriculture producers working or retired after at least 15 years of work or be employed by an agriculture producer.

The Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, originally proposed a version of the bill that would have abolished the districts altogether. He said he heard pushback in his district that they were ineffective. But after hearing support for the districts, he amended the measure to limit membership so there would be more involvement from the agricultural community.

But that also received significant pushback.

“Under this bill, a person without a high school diploma that’s been picking strawberries for the last 10 years would be able to serve on the board as opposed to a scientist from the University of Florida IFAS,” Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, a central Florida Democrat, said. “We should all believe that Floridians should have the freedom to be healthy, prosperous and safe, which includes having clean drinking water.”