Rogues gallery: Who’s behind this year’s dirty-water bills?

We’ve spend a lot of time and space analyzing the dreck oozing from Tallahassee this session, the terrible bills and bad ideas destined to result in dirtier water, more reckless development and more citizen intimidation.

This week, let’s take a look at the legislators behind those bad ideas.

Some, in fact, are behind multiple bad proposals. And we’ve included some thumbnail info on campaign contributions, to see if the industries that might benefit from these bad bills happen to be the same industries that wrote the campaign checks.

This isn’t a compete list – we’d be here all week – but we’ll update the gallery, particularly if/when the bad bills start moving.

One thing you will note: 2024 is an election year, and while it’s still very early, almost none of these guys have a challenger.

And if you want to know why we have fend off bad proposals year after year after year – you might start right there.

Rep. Randy Maggard, R-54


Maggard sponsored HB 527, “Land and Water Management”; along with companion bill SB 664, it’s among the worst ideas to emerge from Tallahassee this year (so far). Maggard’s bill would require counties with larger wetlands buffer zones than state law requires to acquire the additional land via eminent domain — i.e., the government would take the land. Which would never fly, and of course Maggard knows that; his bill is a naked attempt to scuttle local wetlands protection.

This isn’t a one-off for Maggard; he was the brains behind last years HB 1197, which would have prohibited local laws to protect springs, rivers, aquifers and wetlands. Which leads to the question — why does Randy Maggard hate clean water?

Dirty Money: Since 2019 Maggard has gotten numerous contributions from the agricultural industry, including three $1,000 contributions from the Florida Cow PAC and another three $1,000 contributions from the Florida Farm PAC; six contributions totaling $3,500 from the Associated Industries of Florida PAC, which gets its money from the biggest businesses in the state, including U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals; and thousands more from home builders, building industry PACs, suppliers of building materials, etc.

Up for re-election?: Yes; Maggard will run for reelection in 2024. There are currently no other candidates in the race.

Sen. Danny Burgess, R-23


Burgess is the sponsor of SB 664, the Senate companion bill to Maggard’s HB 527, and is also the sponsor of SB 738, “Environmental Management,” which seeks to crush environmental lawsuits by forcing those who lose a challenge to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district decision to pay the “prevailing party’s” legal fees.

The house companion bill to SB 738, HB 789 (see below), was replaced with a committee substitute bill that scuttled the “prevailing party” provision, and another which would have required a “holistic review” of the coastal development process to make it more “efficient,” likely via less oversight. SB 738 could also be amended, and we hope it is; but Burgess still loses points for trying to sneak this stinker through in the first place.

Dirty money: Since he began as state Representative in 2014, Burgess has taken dozens of contributions from agribusiness and agricultural PACs; and numerous PACs associated with the building industry. 

Up for re-election?: Yes; Burgess will run for re-election in District 23. One independent challenger has filed to run, John Houman.

Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-85


The sponsor of HB 789, Overdorf gets credit for the fact the committee substitute bill took out the worst provisions; that likely couldn’t have happened without the sponsor’s approval. Still, Overdorf represents a region that’s had huge environmental problems, with massive discharges from Lake Okeechobee and three full-blown blue-green algae crises since 2013. That the region’s representative would sponsor an anti-environmental bill like 789 in the first place is offensive and completely tone deaf.

He’s also the co-sponsor of HB 791, one of several bills we’re watching closely. This proposal would force counties and municipalities to issue refunds if they don’t approve development applications within a specified time frame and allow developers to restart the clock if they make a “substantive” change to their proposal. In other words, the bill is all about making life easier for developers, even if that makes life harder for local governments, not to mention citizens who endure the traffic and environmental impacts.

Dirty money: Overdorf has taken thousands from builders, builder supply companies, construction firms, concrete distributors, and builder-related PACs like the Associated Builders and Contractors. He also gets more PAC contributions than most; state records show he’s gotten at least 115 contributions from political committees since he first ran for office in 2017.

Up for re-election?: Yes; Overdorf will run for re-election in District 85. There are currently no challengers.

Rep. Stan McClain, R-27


McClain is sponsor of HB 1221, “Land Use and Development Regulations,” which seeks to scuttle some regulations that restrict the density or intensity of development, limits the types of data that can be used for comprehensive plan amendments, and even redefines “urban sprawl” to merely mean “an unplanned and uncontrolled development pattern.” In other words, you can construct low-density, automobile-dependent development, something that looks like sprawl, creates the impact of sprawl… but unless it’s “unplanned and uncontrolled,” it merely resembles sprawl. And that’s A-OK.

Dirty money: Lots of “sprawl” industry funding, including $8,500 from the Florida Home Builders Association PAC since 2015; some two dozen contributions from developers, construction firms and building supply companies; and more than 100 contributions from a variety of PACs.

Up for re-election?: McClain will run for the State Senate in District 9 this fall. He currently has no challengers.

Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-11


Ingoglia is sponsor of SB 1184, the Senate companion to McClain’s House bill. He’s also the sponsor of another bill we’re keeping a wary eye on: SB 812 is one of four bills this session (that seek to expedite the approval of residential building permits. If common-sense measures can be identified to do so, great; but this smacks of the sprawl industry trying to shove as much product into the pipeline as quickly as possible without sufficient oversight; and it’s likely to require local counties or municipalities to hire more staff to deal with the tsunami.

Dirty money: Since 2013 Ingoglia’s gotten thousands from building industry related PACs, along with $4,500 from the Associated Industries of Florida PAC; he’s also gotten $8,000 from road builders.

Up for re-election?: Ingoglia has filed to run again in District 11; he currently has no challengers.

Like we said, there are plenty more — like Rep. Adam Botana and Sen. Jonathan Martin, who are proposing a pair of bills (HB 957 and SB 1210) to shrink the size of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve to allow dredging and perhaps the construction of a 300-slip marina. Or Rep. Lawrence McClure and Sen. Jay Collins, who teamed up on a pair of bills (HB 1547 and SB 1628) designed to thwart local regulation of agriculture, oil facilities and other sectors deemed crucial to “national security.”

And on and on.