Last week the House passed Rep. Jimmy Patronis’ HB 999 by a 98-20 vote (19 Dems voted no, 1 Republican) despite a lobbying appearance from former Governor and Senator Bob Graham. HB 999 is a bill that would strip protection from thousands of acres of wetlands across the state and prevents Environmental groups from suing over controversial sugar leases among other damaging things it potentially would do. Embarrassingly, the majority of the House Democratic caucus voted yes on this bill continuing a pattern of Democratic compliance with the wishes of the sugar industry and developers in this state and reversing the historical legacy the party created in the 1970s and 1980s. Many Democrats seem to forget a direct correlation exists between Florida’s economy and environmental protection.
The Everglades ecosystem is arguably the most important driver of Florida’s sustainability. The one of a kind environmental feature is unique to Florida and Florida alone. While this bill received unanimous bi-partisan support it is worth exploring the culpability of Democrats on these issues. Many southeast Florida Democrats have consistently ignored the need to protect and preserve the River of Grass and have become in the process become addicted to sugar money in a way that many in many in the GOP have not.
In the past some Democrats have told me that sugar money is essential to funding the party and legislative candidates because the Republicans have all the other corporate money locked up. Democratic candidates, party executive committees, local Democratic clubs and partisan functions have all been recipients of sugar’s generous contributions in recent years. Additionally developers in southeast Florida have influenced Democratic elected officials for years and have created a hostility between local parties and environmentalists.
Interestingly in a post election analysis done in 1997 by the RNC, Bill Clinton’s Florida victory was attributed to his strong environmental stands and one must assume Barack Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 Florida campaigns benefited from a similar sentiment.
The following Democrats did the right thing and opposed HB 999 on the House floor last week. The remainder of the caucus should be held accountable by progressives for an awful vote. If you are represented by one of the Democrats below thank them. If you are represented by a Democrat not on the list call them and voice your displeasure for a willingness to sell out Florida’s environment and natural resources.
Bruce Antone (D-Orlando)
Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach)
Daphne Campbell (D-Miami)
Karen Castor- Dentel (D-Maitland)
Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)
Mark Pafford (D- West Palm Beach)
Kevin Rader (D_Boca Raton)
Michelle Rewinkel-Vasalinda (D-Tallahassee)
Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami)
Darryl Rouson (D- St Petersburg)
Joe Saunders (D-Orlando)
Irv Slosberg (D-Boca Raton)
Rick Stark (D-Weston)
Linda Stewart (D-Orlando)
Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Victor Torres (D-Orlando)
Barbara Watson (D-Miami)
Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)
Carl Zimmerman (D- Palm Harbor)
In addition Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) voted no
Looks like a majority of the black caucus voted the wrong way.
It is time to be heard but there is but silence.
Thank god Mia Jones never became leader. She cast a HORRIBLE vote here.
What is up with your Broward women. Notice that Rogers, Clarke Reed and the wonderful Edwards were wrong on this issue.