The Phoenix Flyer

Everglades: Gov vetoes pet project of FL Senate President, who is an Ag Commissioner candidate

By: - June 8, 2022 2:46 pm

A tractor pulls carts of cut sugar cane past cane fields set afire to aid with harvesting. On Wednesday, Gov. DeSantis vetoed a bill that critics said was bad for the Everglades and overly friendly to Big Sugar. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he has vetoed Senate Bill 2508, an Everglades-related pet project of outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson that was hotly opposed by environmental groups and South Florida fishermen.

Introduced late in the Florida Legislature’s regular session last winter, SB 2508 had only one hearing before reaching a final vote in the Senate. Officially sponsored by Sen. Ben Albritton, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Simpson publicly acknowledged he wanted the bill to pass.

Simpson is a candidate for the elected post of commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, a position now held by Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for governor.

Critics described the bill as unfairly favorable to Florida’s wealthy sugar industry, by dedicating more water to farming irrigation and less to clean-water projects. DeSantis voiced his objections to the bill shortly after it popped up late in the session, and despite some modifications made to it, he followed through with a veto applauded Wednesday by the bill’s critics.

“The governor made the right decision today, and hopefully, this will be a signal to lawmakers to stop using legislative tricks to sneak harmful environmental policy past the Florida public,” said Jonathan Webber, legislative and political director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement emailed to press.

“FCV and many other environmental organizations sounded the alarm during the legislative session about the problems with SB 2508. Since then, thousands of Floridians have sent emails and letters urging a veto of this bad bill,” Webber wrote. “You can’t mess around with Everglades restoration or any of our major conservation programs and expect no one to notice.”

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]