Judge sides with environmentalists, says lawmakers failed to comply with Amendment 1 | Tampa Bay Times
Written by WPVR on June 19, 2018
Striking a blow to the Legislature, a Tallahassee judge said state lawmakers failed to comply with a voter-approved constitutional amendment to buy and preserve environmentally sensitive lands.
Ruling from the bench Friday, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson sided with environmental groups in the lawsuit centered on whether lawmakers “defied” the 2014 Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative by improperly diverting portions of the money to such expenses as staffing — allegations legislative leaders have repeatedly disputed as they continued to make such budget allocations.
David Guest — a lawyer representing the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, the Sierra Club and Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller — called Dodson’s Friday bench ruling a “100 percent victory.”
“The people of Florida voted with a firm, clear voice. And the court said today that counts,” Guest said after the hearing. “The Legislature has to comply with the law like everybody else.”
Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, called the ruling a “clear abuse of judicial authority.”
“We are confident it will be overturned on appeal,” Piccolo added.
Senate President Joe Negron’s spokeswoman, Katie Betta, said she did not have a comment.