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Governor Signs SB 540 - "The Worst Environmental Bill Passed by the Legislature During the 2023 Session"

The Florida Everglades
The Florida Everglades

Florida - Thursday May 25, 2023: Despite strong opposition from environmental groups throughout the state, the Governor on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 540 into law, without any fanfare, picture or announcement from his office.

The new law takes effect July 1. It will now require citizens who challenge a local comprehensive plan amendment to pay the legal fees if they lose their suit, including developers’ attorney fees if they join the case. It could end citizen challenges to questioned developments.

In a release, Friends of the Everglades, which dubbed the measure the"sprawl bill", said the measure is "the worst environmental bill passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2023 session." They said the Governor's decision to sign SB 540 into law "defies the spirit of DeSantis’ own Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida." The environmental group said it will only "embolden developers to propose more environmentally perilous projects."

1000 Friends of Florida also issued a statement saying they are "deeply disappointed" that the Governor signed Senate Bill 540. The group believes it "will decimate citizens’ planning rights and imperil the future of Everglades restoration," adding, "we regret that he did not heed the warnings of so many Floridians like you, including more than 5,770 who signed our veto petition, that SB 540 would pave the way for urban sprawl and do irreparable damage to Florida’s environment and quality of life," said the organization in their release.

Among the other groups that opposed SB 540 are the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, Hold the Line Coalition, and the Everglades Coalition which representing more than 60 other member organizations.