TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed bills establishing immediate and multi-year plans to tackle flooding and sea-level rise around the state.
DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1954 at Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill in Tarpon Springs. The bill established the Resilient Florida Grant Program to fund local resiliency projects throughout Florida. The grant program allows the state to partner with local government to protect coastal communities’ infrastructure and residents.
"We are a very flood-prone and storm-prone state and we wanted to take action to help protect our folks," DeSantis explained.
The grant program will be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection, which will produce a resiliency work program with $100 million worth of projects annually. DeSantis says input from local and regional stakeholders will be important in understanding the needs of coastal communities including a priority list for the program.
The legislation also creates an academic partnership through the newly established Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation at the University of South Florida. DeSantis says the new hub incorporates some of the brightest scientific minds in flood mitigation. He added that it could make Florida a national leader in research analysis and integration in terms of integrating that with public policy.
The money to pay for the grant and the Flood Hub will come from the newly created Resilient Florida Trust. DeSantis says money deposited in the trust fund will be used as a funding source for the Resilient Florida Grant Program, flooding and coastal resilience and regional resilience. It will also cover the costs to operate the grant program including planning and development. The trust will also pay for administrative and operational costs for the Florida Flood hub for Applied Research and Innovation.
DeSantis says $500 million will be used to seed the Florida Resilient Trust Fund, which is on top of $116 million in DocStamp distributions that are being redirected to the trust fund. Plus, Senate Bill 2512 also directs another $116 million to Florida’s Water Sustainability and Accountability Trust Fund supporting the wastewater grant program.
"We’re really putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to protecting the state of Florida and particularly our coastal communities from the risk of flooding and storms," the governor insisted.
Last week, DeSantis made two visits to the Bay Area. In St. Pete, he signed the anti-vaccine passport bill into law. While there, he also signed an executive order suspending all city and county governments’ COVID-19 orders.
In Temple Terrace, he stopped at the city’s fire department to announce he put $1,000 bonuses for all sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs into Florida’s budget.
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