Recap of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session

Let’s dive into a recap of the 2024 Florida Legislative session. This year, Healthy Gulf and our allies were mostly on the defensive. We stood our ground to protect existing environmental laws and programs from being weakened or even eliminated, rather than seeing new protections enacted. One bad piece of legislation did pass, however. Here, we’ll take a look at this bad bill as well as others that were successfully struck down.

The Florida Legislature at the capitol in Tallahassee
The Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee

Starting with the bad bill known as HB 1645. This legislation is full of bizarre provisions that move Florida backwards in energy and environmental policy. Let’s break it down.

HB 1645 would:

  • Ban wind turbines on the Florida coast
  • Remove references to climate change in state law
  • Make it easier to construct natural gas transmission facilities
  • And eliminate a grant program intended to help local governments and school districts reduce their carbon emissions

HB 1645 a pro-fossil fuel and climate denial bill. Pure and simple. 

While wind energy is expected to be only a small source of energy as Florida transitions away from fossil fuels, our state needs every bit of renewable energy that it can get. And removing references to climate change puts a majority of legislators on the wrong side of history, ignores science, and clings to an industry-funded anti-renewable energy campaign that puts our state and its people at risk of great harm from the impacts of climate change. 

Moving on to the good news: 

Healthy Gulf and numerous other environmental groups successfully fought SB 738/HB 789, which would have required those who challenge permit decisions of environmental agencies to pay the defendant’s attorney fees if they lose. In setting such a high financial bar for challengers, this would have eliminated nearly all challenges to environmental agency decisions. Thanks to public outcry, this bill did not pass, but it is likely to be introduced again next year.

Some modest but good measures that Healthy Gulf advocated for did pass.

SB 484/HB 1049, which requires property sellers to disclose whether property has suffered damage from flooding, the number of times the property has been subject to flooding, and other flood information. This will help to discourage development in flood prone areas, while helping to protect buyers from unknowingly purchasing properties that flood. Over 160 Healthy Gulf supporters sent letters of support for the bill to their representatives!

HB 165 passed both bodies and will standardize public notices of potential pathogens in waters at popular swimming beaches, which can come from untreated sewage. In the past, some jurisdictions have not posted signage informing beachgoers of unsafe conditions for swimming following water testing. So this is a good step toward better protection of public health.

Christian Wagley, Florida-Alabama Coastal Organizer (left), Marti Collins, Executive Director (center), and Stephannie Kettle, Communications Director (right) visit the Florida State Capitol for the beginning of the 2024 legislative session.
Christian Wagley, Florida-Alabama Coastal Organizer (left), Marti Collins, Executive Director (center), and Stephannie Kettle, Communications Director (right) visit the Florida State Capitol for the beginning of the 2024 legislative session.

Finally, while for the past two decades the Florida Legislature has mostly been quite averse to regulating the sources of air and water pollution and the fossil fuels driving climate change, more recently, they have shown a willingness to spend money on environmental projects that attempt to capture or mitigate pollution. 

Environmental funding highlights from the 2024 session include:

  • $702 million for Everglades restoration (and related water projects)
  • $125 million to address sea level rise (but not the fossil fuels causing it)
  • $135 million for wastewater grants
  • $25 million for Caloosahatchee River watershed water quality improvements
  • $100 million each in recurring funds for Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands-land acquisition programs (though still way down from the $300 million annually that FL used to spend on land conservation under FL Forever)
  • $10.8 million for the Blue/Green Algae Task Force

These projects will provide some good benefits, but in many cases they put the financial burden of fixing problems on taxpayers rather than the entities causing the problem. From fossil fuel companies and big agriculture to the development machine that continues to expand outward into the last of Florida’s green spaces, these industries are not having to pay anywhere close to the full price of the damages they cause to Florida’s environment and quality of life. 

With a majority of the Florida Legislature focusing on taxpayer-funded pollution cleanup rather than addressing the industries causing the pollution, it’s a reminder that ultimately we must transition our economy. A just transition is what is needed,  away from an extractive economy that has harmed people and the planet, to one that is regenerative, restorative and equitable.


Christian Wagley works to protect water quality, create a healthy energy future, and improve coastal resilience in communities along the Florida panhandle and southeast Alabama.

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