TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s new sustainability committees will begin digging Wednesday and Thursday their main concerns are listening to those affected by hurricanes and figuring out how best to prepare the state for the next major storm.
The House and Senate versions of the Select Committee on Hurricane Resilience and Recovery and the Select Committee on Resilience, respectively, are new for the upcoming session. Both have two years to live. Those tasked with leading groups of legislators expect not only recommendations, but also solutions.
Sen. Chairman Ben Albritton, R-Barthau, said his first goal is to find out what hurricane victims Ian and Nicole are struggling with trying to put their lives back together — and fix it.
“It’s going to be about storm recovery with a focus on resilience,” Albritton said.
The senator hoped members could come up with a list of recommendations for the Legislature this year, possibly helping to speed up the repair process. At the same time, he wanted to see how Florida could improve the situation before the next big storm.
“When we look at sustainability, let’s figure out, as we rebuild, how to rebuild better,” Albritton said. “So we are more resilient to the onslaught of events.”
It’s part of the committee’s long-term goals to figure out how to fortify the entire state against severe weather, roads, beaches, buildings, etc. they are on board.
“We will work hard with you to transform this place into a 21st century, livable place and get it out of the Third World with its pipes and infrastructure,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo, R-Miami North, who serves as the committee’s vice chairman. .
Pizzo said that during the first persistence a meeting earlier this month. He felt the committee would be a chance for the parties to find common ground on the divisive issue of climate change.
“Both sides of the aisle can now admit that there is climate change and sea level rise,” Pizza said. “If we want to save and preserve this place – we have to spend money and effort.”
On the other hand, there were activists and environmental groups disappointed with the Republican Party focus on sustainability. They are often to say it addresses the symptoms of climate change, but not the cause. They have criticized Republicans for not seriously considering limiting carbon emissions or reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Albritton said he would keep an open mind, but was concerned the changes could affect personal liberties, and suggested they wouldn’t make much of a difference.
“I don’t want to punish Floridians for what is a global problem,” the Republican said. “There are likely people who will be upset by what I just said, but I think what I just said is common sense.”
The House and Senate committees will continue to meet regularly over the coming months. Their first round of recommendations is expected to be issued after the Houses are sworn in on March 7.