By Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
November 29, 2017
For too long, Florida’s natural treasures have been put on the back burner by politics. Our quality of life as Floridians and our state’s economic vitality greatly relies on the protection and preservation of our environment and precious ecosystems.
With tourism being Florida’s star economic contributor, we cannot risk the decline of our natural resources. Florida’s population has increased by nearly 3 million in the last decade and is one of the fastest-growing states in the United States.
I think many Floridians agree environmental matters deserve better representation in government. As a commissioner serving on the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission, and chair of the CRC General Provisions Committee, I have taken charge of environmental concerns expressed to me by the public and have filed the following five proposals to revise our state constitution:
1.) Ensure right to a clean and healthful environment. I believe above all Floridians should have a constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. That is why I filed Proposal 23 to amend Article II, Section 7 of the state constitution. Shaped by Traci Deen and her students at Barry University, this proposal would help any person enforce his or her right to a clean and healthful environment against any party, public or private.
2.) Create a commissioner of environmental protection. Currently, the Florida Cabinet consists of the governor, attorney general, the chief financial officer and the commissioner of agriculture. For our environmental protection to be ensured, the Florida Cabinet needs to add an elected officer whose sole purpose is to execute the constitutional amendments regarding the preservation of the environment. I filed Proposal 24 to revise Article IV, Sections 3 and 4 and create a new section in Article XII to establish the Commissioner of Environmental Protection as a statewide elected officer.
3.) Fix the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. In 2014, Florida citizens used the initiative process of the state constitution to ratify one of the largest environmental funding measures in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, many of those funds have gone to management and administration rather than land and water conservation. I have sponsored Proposal 46 to fix this issue and to revise the manner of the distribution of funds that are deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund from a portion of the net revenues derived from the excise tax on documents.
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Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a lifetime resident of Martin County and former mayor of Sewall’s Point. She currently serves as a commissioner on the Constitution Revision Commission.