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Ali Adair @AliAdair22
, 25 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
⚡️In 2014, 75% of Floridians voted OVERWHELMINGLY to pass Amendment 1, AKA the FL Water & Land Conservation Initiative, a state constitutional amendment to allot a projected $21 billion over the 20 years of the measure to buy & preserve land. They approved this:
▶️75% of the voters is 4.2 million people.
▶️When 75% of #Florida voters voted to approve Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution, they approved "the largest land conservation measure ever approved in a single state."
ℹ️The exact amount of money is “projected” because—according to the amendment that was passed—it was to come from 33% of Florida’s existing excise tax. An Excise tax is a “documentary stamp tax” paid when real estate is sold, typically 70 cents per $100 paid for the property.
ℹ️The #Florida tax also is levied at 35 cents per $100 for certificates of indebtedness, promissory notes, wage assignments, and retail charge account agreements. So 33% of the excise tax is a variable number and the same amount is not collected each year.
💰💰However, projections from the #Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research show that $21 billion is expected to be collected from the document stamp taxes to be earmarked for land & water preservation purchases & deposited into the Land Acquisition Fund.
💥But something has gone awry. Florida Forever, the largest land acquisition program in the nation, has suffered the most. Used to an annual budget of $300 million for 20 years, between 2009-2014, they only amassed $20 million total (vs. $1.2 billion).…
Coincidentally, #Florida is one of those states that has a trifecta—has since 2014—in which the Governor, the House & the Senate are all controlled by the GOP. A rogue Republican legislature has approved taking funds earmarked for the Land Acquisition Fund for “general expenses.”
💥So, as you might imagine, environmental groups in #Florida are upset. Jim McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust:
💸And he's not the only one: The Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest #Florida and the Sierra Club have all sued the state of Florida for improperly diverting portions of the money.
👨‍⚖️In June 2018, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled that the legislature “defied” the initiative voted on by the super majority of the #Florida residents.…
👨‍⚖️Judge Dodson said that the #Florida governing group used these funds for staffing—which should not be allowed—as the money was intended to be earmarked for buying & preserving land.
Furthermore, Judge Dodson referred to the history of the Land Acquisition Trust fund, which the legislature created under the Outdoor Recreation & Conservation Act of 1963 & the LONG-STANDING PROHIBITION AGAINST RAIDING THE FUND TO SUBSIDIZE THE GENERAL FUND OR ANY OTHER FUND.
💥According to the Ledger, there is also talk of using the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to “help pay for public works projects to develop more water sources to subsidize future development.”…
🏝️For developers? Land preservation and land development are diametrically opposed ideas: the Land Trust Acquisition Fund was created to PROTECT the land from developers.

🔗Link to North #Florida Land Trust:…
👨‍⚖️Furthermore, the Ledger accentuates the point that this lawsuit must be heard & decided by the Supreme Court as soon as possible. Legislators need this information to complete the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and...
😡Rick Scott has made a “threat” to take advantage of his lame duck position and “pack” the #Florida Supreme Court “on his way out.”

Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-North Fort Myers) insists that that budget & spending issues shouldn't be mandated to lawmakers. (source: news-press above)
💥In other words, the Republicans in charge should be managing the money, not the 75% of the people who voted for this.

📜"I think this is evidence of why we shouldn’t legislate through the Constitution," Caldwell said.

⁉️Say what?
👨‍⚖️Rep. Caldwell (cont'd): "These are political questions that need to be solved through the political process. The courts aren't equipped to handle these issues."

💥Wow. Judge Dodson?
‼️The Governor and the Legislature used funds intended for land preservation for: vehicles for staff members, office personnel, in fact, a “whole laundry list” of general operational & management costs presented by the plaintiffs—items that should come from the General Fund.
🙌This a “100% victory," said Florida Wildlife Foundation attorney David Guest, "The people of Florida voted with a firm, clear voice. And the court said today that counts. The Legislature has to comply with the law like everybody else."…
👨‍⚖️Florida legislators continue to deny they misused the funds & continued to do so 2014-2018. Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, called the ruling a "clear abuse of judicial authority” and that they were confident it would be overturned on appeal.
😝The state filed an appeal in July.

🏝️But also strengthening the case of environmental groups—& really the people of #Florida—is the fact that the #Florida Supreme Court unanimously approved the title and ballot summary in 2013 before it went to vote.
📜We have Constitutions, laws, rules, regulations, etc. in this country & they were meant to be followed.

⚡️Just because you have the majority in Congress or a state legislature, doesn't mean you don't have to follow them.

💥If you don't like them, change them.
💥You change laws by voting in the right people for the job.

🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️And if you still don't like the job they're doing, you run yourself.




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