Ask Governor Bush to Veto
In the last week of April, the Anti-Manatee Legislation, SB 540 and HB 633, were passed by the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. We know the senators and representatives heard from thousands of people, and we appreciate your help! With your help, the bills were made a little better but remain very harmful to manatees.
Using both deceptive and malicious strong-arm tactics, the leaders of both the Florida Senate and the House forced numerous legislators to go against their conscience and support changes to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act that will both make it more difficult to recover manatees from endangered status and will mean more manatees will be injured or killed. In fact, the proposed legislation would not have even made it out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee if the Senate President had not held several committee members' bills hostage to force them to support this bad legislation. We also know that House members' bills were held hostage in a similar way from pressure exerted by the Speaker Pro Tempore, who was also the House sponsor.
Now we must stop Governor Jeb Bush from signing this bill into law. Please send the following letter to Governor Bush asking him to veto SB 540, the Anti-Manatee Legislation.
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Dear Governor Bush:
SB 540 sets new limitations on the state's authority to adopt new speed zones to protect manatees and provides new language promoting recreational boating. These changes to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act take effect even before manatees are recovered from endangered status. SB 540 also amends the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act declaring that the "mission" of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) is both to maximize manatee protection and maximize recreational boating in Florida waterways.
While the sponsors and Marine Manufacturers may pass this off as a mere statement of philosophy, it will be used by disgruntled boaters to challenge manatee protections anywhere they exist on the basis that any manatee protection at all means their recreational boating opportunities are not "increased to the highest possible" -- which is Webster's definition of "maximize."
To add insult to injury, the funding for the studies that were supposed to help manatees was stricken from the bill before its final passage -- leaving only more restrictions on the FWCC's authority to protect manatees.
Despite numerous editorials against this legislation from papers across Florida, criticisms from many long-time manatee and wildlife experts, and objections from most of Florida's environmental and public interest organizations and hundreds of national groups, the legislature approved these changes to the Manatee Sanctuary Act that were brought forward by representatives of the Marine Manufacturers and the go-fast boating groups.
Governor Bush, please veto SB 540. Furthermore, please investigate the tactics used to turn the Manatee Sanctuary Act into a Boating Promotion Act that will make it much harder to recover manatees from their endangered status. I am counting on you to stop this hypocritical attack on manatees that will likely force the federal government to intercede if it becomes law. This is your chance to show the federal government that the state of Florida is serious about recovering manatees from endangered status.
Thank you for your consideration.
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