The 2021 Florida Legislative Session officially kicked off Tuesday morning, as the House and Senate convened in a joint session.
According to the News Service of Florida (NSF), during the event Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a 28-minute State of the State address that focused heavily on the state’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also touched on protecting the state’s natural resources and investing in improvements in water quality.
DeSantis said, “I ask that you continue to fund the key projects – from the EAA reservoir in the south to the projects in the northern Everglades – that will impact our state for generations to come, and reaffirms our commitment to Everglades restoration and access to safe, clean water for our communities.”
Senate President Wilton Simpson, in a brief opening speech Tuesday to senators, maintained support for putting more attention on the storage of water north of Lake Okeechobee before it enters the lake, while also completing ongoing projects south of the lake that includes building a reservoir. Projects related to Lake Okeechobee have drawn heavy legislative attention in recent years, in part because of polluted lake discharges into nearby waterways.
Simpson said, “We have made significant investments south of the lake, and while I think the order was wrong, restoration is right.” He said, “An investment in northern storage has many benefits. Not only can we clean water before it gets to the lake, but we can also store and use that water to protect us from times of drought.
NSF noted that only members of the media and select visitors were allowed in the capitol building to watch the proceedings. Lobbyists and other visitors that traditionally are at the capitol for the annual session opening were absent.
The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end April 30.