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Florida House approves creating climate change resiliency office

The measure would also require the state to draft a resiliency plan for state highways. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.
Traffic moves through some street flooding near Edison Ave and Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa as severe storms reach the area on April 19, 2019. The Florida House passed a measure that would create a state resiliency office under Gov. Ron DeSantis to address climate change.
Traffic moves through some street flooding near Edison Ave and Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa as severe storms reach the area on April 19, 2019. The Florida House passed a measure that would create a state resiliency office under Gov. Ron DeSantis to address climate change. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Mar. 2

The Florida House almost unanimously passed a proposal Wednesday to bolster efforts against sea-level rise.

The bill (HB 7053), sponsored by Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Coral Gables, would establish a new resiliency office directly under Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Also it would require the development of a resilience action plan for the state highway system, require a prioritized list of resilience projects that would include costs and timelines and create a database that would identify such things as medical centers, utilities, emergency operation centers and airports that would be threatened by rising sea levels.

Related: Florida House wants new resiliency office to address climate change

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, has made a priority of addressing sea-level rise, and the bill would build on a measure passed last year.

House members voted 114-1 to approve the bill, with Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, opposed. A similar bill (SB 1940) is pending in the Senate.

Before the vote, Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, said lawmakers also should take steps toward addressing climate-change issues, which he described as the “root causes” of sea-level rise and flooding.

“I think we need to be much more innovative going forward,” Diamond said.

But Busatta Cabrera pushed back, saying the House was rejecting “toxic politics” and taking an approach that would yield results.

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