Legislative Affairs Consultant Dan DeLisi gave a state legislative session update to Sanibel City Council Tuesday, June 4, in which he reported a favorable session for the city’s main water and environmental objectives.

After Governor Ron DeSantis took office in January, he immediately set forth his agenda for environmental restoration, which was incredibly favorable to the priorities Sanibel already laid out,” said DeLisi.

The state-wide environmental budget of $682 million, more than DeSantis requested, includes the largest amount of funding for Everglades restoration. It also includes most of the city’s other priorities, such as $145 million for the C-43 Reservoir, $108 million for CEPP/EAA Reservoir, $10.8 million for the Blue Green Algae Task Force, $4.8 million for red tide research and $10 million for innovative technologies in the removal of algae.

DeLisi called it an impressive budget (for the environment), but reported a relatively quiet session when it came to environmental legislation. Many of the policy and funding-related bills did not pass and other pieces of legislation didn’t make it to a committee hearing. The two most significant environmental bills to move through the process related to wastewater treatment and biosolids. They were consolidated, but postponed in the final week of session.

DeLisi’s report states the consolidated water bill HB 973 had two major substantive issues – the limitations on application of biosolids and further emphasis on septic to sewer projects and nutrient removal from wastewater – that will likely be significant topics next year.

The city was granted $500,000 from the Local Government Water Projects appropriation for improvements to the Donax Wastewater Reclamation Facility. “(That) was impressive mostly because of the incredible amount of money you received last year,” said DeLisi. The city may also be able to receive funding for the fourth phase of its sewer expansion through a $25 million appropriation available in July.

The session, which ran from March 5 to May 4, also included the veto of what became known as the ‘plastic straw preemption ban,” HB 771 – a bill that initially sought to regulate the handling and processing of “contaminated” recycled materials. Read DeLisi’s full report.