ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On May 23, Sierra Club Florida released its Florida Legislative Scorecard for 2023. The annual scorecard is designed to provide a snapshot of Sierra Club Florida’s priority bills this past session, and the legislators who either championed or worked against Florida’s environment, democracy, and freedom.
The Legislature’s attacks and backroom deals were relentless during Florida’s 2023 legislative session, which largely served as a platform for Ron DeSantis’ political theater. From limiting the freedoms and financial stability of taxpayers, to promoting irresponsible business practices, to prohibiting local governments from protecting their own communities, the consequences of this session will be felt for years to come:
• HB 1191, the Radioactive Roads Bill, which would allow cancerous phosphate mining waste (known as phosphogypsum) to be used in road construction.
• HB 3, which gets in the way of the Governor’s own resiliency claims by locking local governments out of a trillion-dollar bond market for environmental projects.
• SB 170, which could limit local governments’ ability to address issues ranging from water quality to the climate crisis.
• The backroom fertilizer deal (known as Specific Appropriation 146) that would tie local governments’ hands from stopping the urban pollution that fuels toxic algae blooms that hurt our health and quality of life.
The supermajority in the legislature actively worked against the wellbeing of our people and the environment, and the scorecard condemns the chief architects of these attacks:
• Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who approved the budget line item that would help facilitate a preemption to local fertilizer ordinances shown to lead to algal blooms and Red Tide.
• Speaker of the House Paul Renner, who oversaw the House’s creation of both HB 3 and the backroom fertilizer deal referenced above.
There’s no doubt this was one of the most extraordinarily difficult sessions in recent memory, but Sierra Club Florida and its allies worked tirelessly to hold DeSantis and his cronies accountable, and fight for a better, more sustainable future for our state. The scorecard also recognizes the exceptional legislators who pushed back against the supermajority’s actions and delivered for Florida in the face of tough opposition:
• Representative Anna Eskamani, who introduced bills to transition the state to 100% clean and renewable energy and promote solutions that would ensure a more free, fair, and clean Florida.
• Representative Yvonne Hinson, who led the fight against DeSantis’ takeover of the Gainesville Regional Utility (GRU).
• Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, who effectively led her caucus through extremely difficult circumstances and delivered one of its best environmental performances to date.
• House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, who excelled in every way in her first session as House Minority Leader and led her caucus to 31 “A” grades for the environment.
Emily Gorman, Sierra Club Florida Director said, “At the behest of Governor DeSantis, the legislature has presided over one of the most abysmal sessions of our lifetimes, and every Floridian will feel the consequences. We will continue to hold the Governor and his supermajority accountable for their failures.”
Luigi Guadarrama, Sierra Club Florida Political Director said, “There’s no other way to put it, this was a very bad session. DeSantis sacrificed our economy, freedom, and environment for some political stunts. This isn’t leadership. He has betrayed American values and betrayed Florida.”