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Oliva v. Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

September 9, 2019

Jose Oliva, in his official capacity as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives; Bill Galvano, in his official capacity as President of the Florida Senate; the Florida Legislature; the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; the Commissioner of Agriculture; the Department of Environmental Protection; the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; the Executive Director of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; the Department of State; and the Secretary of State, Appellants,
v.
Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc., Florida Defenders of the Environment, Inc., et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. Charles W. Dodson, Judge.

          Andy Bardos and James Timothy Moore, Jr., of GrayRobinson, P.A., George N. Meros, Jr., of Holland & Knight LLP, Jeremiah Hawkes, General Counsel, and Ashley Istler, Deputy General Counsel, The Florida Senate, and Adam S. Tanenbaum, General Counsel, The Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, for Appellants The Legislative Parties.

          Justin G. Wolfe, General Counsel, Jeffrey Brown and Kelley Corbari, Office of General Counsel, State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Joan T. Matthews, Office of General Counsel, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Bradley R. McVay, Interim General Counsel, and Ashley E. Davis, Deputy General Counsel, Department of State, Tallahassee, for Appellants the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the Department of State.

          Nicholas A. Primrose and James William Uthmeier, Office of Governor Ron DeSantis, Tallahassee, for Appellants State of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and the State of Florida, Department of State.

          Alisa Coe and Bradley Marshall, Earthjustice, David Guest, and Robert T. Benton, II, Tallahassee; Kenneth B. Wright, Jacksonville, for Appellees Florida Wildlife Federation, et al.

          Joseph W. Little, Gainesville, for Appellees Florida Defenders of the Environment, Inc., et al.

          Mohammad O. Jazil and Adam F. Blalock of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A., Tallahassee, for Amici Curiae the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council, the Florida Rural Water Association, and the Florida Stormwater Association.

          James W. Sherman, West Palm Beach, for Amicus Curiae South Florida Water Management District.

          Hala Sandridge of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Tampa, for Amicus Curiae Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association.

          Jon L. Mills of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Miami, and Clay Henderson, DeLand, for Amicus Curiae Florida Conservation Voters, Inc., The Trust for Public Land, The Everglades Foundation, Inc., and Florida Audubon Society, Inc.

          John R. Thomas, St. Petersburg, for Amicus Curiae Florida Springs Council, Inc.

          Paul J. Schwiep of Coffey Burlington, P.L., Miami, for Amicus Curiae Friends of the Everglades, Inc.

          Bilbrey, J.

         In 2014, the voters of Florida overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to amend the Florida Constitution. That ballot measure became section 28 of Article X of the Florida Constitution. Since then, two separate suits were filed by various plaintiffs against various state actors alleging that certain appropriations were contrary to section 28; those suits were consolidated. A final summary judgment was thereafter entered holding that the legislature had not complied with section 28 and that judgment is now before us. As explained below, we reverse the summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2014, the voters of Florida approved adding Article X, section 28 to the Florida Constitution. It provides:

         SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund. -

(a) Effective on July l of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January l, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first ...

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