An Everglades reservoir bill pushed by Senate President Joe Negron passed the state’s upper chamber Wednesday, with state Rep. Matt Caldwell saying the House will take the $1.5 billion plan “seriously.”

“This gives us a great starting point,” Caldwell, chair of the House Government Accountability Committee, told POLITICO Florida. “We’ve been waiting to see what the final senate proposal would look like. It’s changed several times.”

Senate Bill 10, which featured Negron’s reservoir proposal, was approved by the Senate 36-3, with its next stop the House. HB 761, the House companion, is not yet had a committee hearing.

A sugar company spokesman told POLITICO reporter Bruce Ritchie that he “hopes the House will deal with issues in the Senate bill, including the timing of the project.”

Environmentalists were supportive of the Senate measure, and expect the House will follow suit.

However, some House leaders – including speaker Richard Corcoran – have been hesitant over parts of Negron’s proposal that would purchase farmland for the reservoir, as well as calls for building the reservoir sooner than the Everglades restoration schedule beginning in 2021.

Corcoran did admit chances for the bill were getting “better and better” after amendments to SB 10 reduced the overall impact of the plan. He still questions issuing bonds to pay for the project.

Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, told reporters Wednesday he was not sure what SB 10 ultimately faces in the House, or if it’s even been scheduled for a committee hearing.

“We’re still kind of chewing on that,” he said.


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