Florida Republican Jack Latvala recently introduced a plan that would alter the manner in which Florida controls the management of its beaches. The advantageous plan will engender long term planning, an increase in funds to coastal communities, and a greater dedication to rebuilding shores. While beaches attract billions of dollars from tourism sales taxes, the lawmakers and governors of Florida supply the shoreline with less than 1% of the proceeds that are earned. In fact, there were years where a promised $30 million vanished! Later, the laws were changed to decrease the state’s financial obligation to the beach. Where is the money going and how can it be put to better use? This is where Jack Latvala’s proposal enters the equation.
Latvala’s proposal would create the blueprint for a three year plan to improve beach and inlet projects, require the state of Florida to focus on sand around beach inlets, revise the criteria of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and mandate that an annual amount of $50 million go towards beach management and inlet projects. Latvala’s passion for improving the management of Florida’s beaches goes back for quite some time. In September, he gave a speech to the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association in which he declared his passion for preserving the safety and cleanliness of Florida’s beaches. He also announced that the state’s beaches would be the first order of business for the 2017 legislation session.
Such a commitment to one’s environment is admirable and should be praised. During Latvala’s speech, he noted that beaches are somewhat of a Floridian trademark and very important to the state’s economy. His message was very popular and well received among listeners; The president of the shore and beach advocacy group, Debbie Flack, was impressed. She affirmed the organization’s joy in Latvala’s statements and stated that he “made an unprecedented step in the right direction.”
It is quite fortunate that the people of Florida are able to see the vast importance of maintaining their beaches. When the average America hears the word Florida, they immediately envision warmth, palm trees, bright sunshine, and of course, beaches. Beaches could be arguably be considered as one of the Floridian highlights. Their upkeep, or lack thereof, directly impacts the state as a whole. In September, Latvala suggested that Florida use their road funding planning process as a blueprint for its beach funding plan. Historically, road funding plans have been made with a five year projection, while beach funding plans are financed on an annual basis.
Every state has their “mascot.” Georgia has peaches, Michigan is known for the great lakes, and the trademark of Florida is beaches. Latvala is a very intelligent man with an excellent track record in business; his plan to alter Florida’s beach management system will prove to be invaluable and contribute greatly to the state. Enacting a three year plan is an excellent start and will help the leaders of Florida properly track the proceeds earned from taxes and make sure that every beach in Florida is safe, clean, and presentable.