(NSF) — An appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision that backed Florida lawmakers in a battle about conservation funding. With no explanation, the 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday issued an order denying a request by environmental groups for a rehearing in the case.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court on Sept. 9 overturned a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who said lawmakers improperly diverted money that flows from a 2014 constitutional amendment designed to boost land and water conservation. The appeals court said Dodson erred when he ruled that money from the amendment could only be used on land purchased after the voter-approved measure took effect. Dodson’s ruling followed allegations by environmental groups that lawmakers had improperly used money from what is known as the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for other expenses, including agency expenses and salaries.
Environmental groups filed two motions for rehearing, arguing, in part, that “the decision imposes no requirement upon the Legislature to acquire, restore and manage any new conservation and recreation lands whatsoever. In short, the court’s decision permits the Legislature to continue expending LATF (Land Acquisition Trust Fund) funds to managing existing state lands without acquiring and restoring any new conservation lands. This is simply at odds with the reason citizens take the massive trouble and expense to initiate and adopt an amendment to the Florida Constitution.”
Source: News Service of Florida