(1) The issuance of Everglades restoration bonds to finance or refinance the cost of the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests and resources for the purpose of implementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan under s. 373.470, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Protection Plan under s. 373.4595, the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan under s. 373.4595, the St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan under s. 373.4595, and the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern protection program under ss. 380.05 and 380.0552 in order to restore and conserve natural systems through the implementation of water management projects, including wastewater management projects identified in the Keys Wastewater Plan, dated November 2007, and submitted to the Florida House of Representatives on December 4, 2007, is authorized in accordance with s. 11(e), Art. VII of the State Constitution.
(a) Everglades restoration bonds, except refunding bonds, may be issued only in fiscal years 2002-2003 through 2019-2020 and may not be issued in an amount exceeding $100 million per fiscal year unless:
1. The Department of Environmental Protection has requested additional amounts in order to achieve cost savings or accelerate the purchase of land; or
2. The Legislature authorizes an additional amount of bonds not to exceed $200 million, and limited to $50 million per fiscal year, specifically for the purpose of funding the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern protection program. Proceeds from the bonds shall be managed by the Department of Environmental Protection for the purpose of entering into financial assistance agreements with local governments located in the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern to finance or refinance the cost of constructing sewage collection, treatment, and disposal facilities.
(b) The duration of Everglades restoration bonds may not exceed 20 annual maturities and must mature by December 31, 2040. Except for refunding bonds, a series of bonds may not be issued unless an amount equal to the debt service coming due in the year of issuance has been appropriated by the Legislature. Beginning July 1, 2010, the Legislature shall analyze the ratio of the state’s debt to projected revenues before authorizing the issuance of bonds under this section.
(2) The state covenants with the holders of Everglades restoration bonds that it will not take any action that will materially and adversely affect the rights of the holders so long as the bonds are outstanding, including, but not limited to, a reduction in the portion of documentary stamp taxes distributable under s. 201.15(1) for payment of debt service on Preservation 2000 bonds, Florida Forever bonds, or Everglades restoration bonds.
(3) Everglades restoration bonds are payable from, and secured by a first lien on, taxes distributable under s. 201.15(1)(b) and do not constitute a general obligation of, or a pledge of the full faith and credit of, the state. Everglades restoration bonds shall be secured on a parity basis with bonds secured by moneys distributable under s. 201.15(1)(a).
(4) The Department of Environmental Protection shall request the Division of Bond Finance of the State Board of Administration to issue Everglades restoration bonds under the State Bond Act in an amount supported by projected expenditures of the recipients of the proceeds of the bonds. The Department of Environmental Protection shall coordinate with the Division of Bond Finance to issue the bonds in a cost-effective manner consistent with cash needs.
(5) The proceeds of Everglades restoration bonds, less the costs of issuance, the costs of funding reserve accounts, and other costs with respect to the bonds, shall be deposited into the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund. The bond proceeds deposited into the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund shall be distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection as provided in s. 373.470.
(6) Lands purchased using bond proceeds under this section which are later determined by the South Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection as not needed to implement the comprehensive plan, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Protection Plan, the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan, or the St. Lucie River Watershed Protection Plan, respectively, shall either be surplused at no less than appraised value, and the proceeds from the sale of such lands shall be deposited into the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund to be used to implement the respective plans, or the South Florida Water Management District shall use a different source of funds to pay for or reimburse the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund for that portion of land not needed to implement the respective plans.
(7) There may not be any sale, disposition, lease, easement, license, or other use of any land, water areas, or related property interests acquired or improved with proceeds of Everglades restoration bonds which would cause all or any portion of the interest on the bonds to be included in gross income for federal income tax purposes.
(8) Any complaint for validation of bonds issued under this section may be filed only in the circuit court of the county where the seat of state government is situated. The notice required to be published by s. 75.06 may be published only in the county where the complaint is filed, and the complaint and order of the circuit court need be served only on the state attorney of the circuit in which the action is pending.
History.—s. 2, ch. 2002-261; s. 21, ch. 2003-394; s. 3, ch. 2006-231; s. 1, ch. 2007-253; s. 1, ch. 2008-49; s. 33, ch. 2010-205.