Last week, Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, which will dedicate, for 20 years, 33 percent of net revenues from excise tax on real estate transactions (“doc stamps”) toward land acquisition, conservation and water quality protection. This constitutional amendment is just the beginning, however, as the Legislature must now pass implementing language to appropriate these funds as the Amendment directs.
Many Tallahassee insiders believe that the ensuing debates will pit those wishing to direct all of the funds to new environmental projects against those who believe that the broad text of the amendment will allow an alternative funding source for existing programs. For example, the phrase “together with management [and] restoration of natural systems” could result in funding new projects or funding the state agencies charged with those responsibilities.
We would expect stakeholders and possibly the courts to weigh in on these interpretations and the likelihood of uncertainty at the outset. Stay tuned.