Democracy [dih-mok-ruh-see] noun. 1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
In November, around three-quarters of Florida voters approved Amendment 1, asking the state to set aside millions of dollars to protect Florida land and waterways. More than six months later, state lawmakers have yet to put a plan into motion that would accomplish that. They have yet to even pass a state budget, of course, and are going up to Tallahassee next week for a 20-day special session to do so.
Environmental advocates are urging lawmakers to pass a budget that implements the money raised through Amendment 1 (which will be collected on real estate transactions). Activists will rally in cities across the state, including Tampa, on Saturday to urge lawmakers to, you know, do what voters asked them to do.
"Hopefully legislators will see that people care about how Amendment 1 dollars are spent," Audubon Executive Director Eric Draper, a lobbyist on environmental issues, told WJXT in Jacksonville.
During the regular legislative session, which came to an abrupt end over an impasse on health care funding, lawmakers sought to implement much of the $700 million the fund is expected to raise in the next fiscal year to cover HR costs for the state's environment protection and agriculture agencies, and didn't leave much for buying up sensitive environmental lands. That, of course, irked supporters of Amendment 1.
Come Monday, legislators will have another crack at it, and environmental activists, along with editorial writers and Democratic (as well as a few Republican) lawmakers, hope they'll get it right this time around.