DeSantis visits Bill Baggs park to announce $22.7M in grants for Biscayne Bay

DeSantis says Biscayne Bay projects moving forward, promises solution to property insurance crisis

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis was at the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Thursday in Key Biscayne to say projects on the restoration of Biscayne Bay are moving forward with $22.7 million through seven awards from a state’s grant program.

DeSantis said that since he has been governor there has been an investment of over $52 million to restore Biscayne Bay. He signed House Bill 1177 to establish the Biscayne Bay Commission, which has met regularly for the last year.

“There is money that is going to go to the Village of Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Miami Springs, North Miami, Miami-Dade County, Cutler Bay,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the funds will be used for projects such as switching from septic to sewer, stormwater management, increasing freshwater inflows, and new technology to prevent sanitary sewer overflows.

Shawn Hamilton, the secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said there are dozens of ongoing projects funded by the current budget of the Biscayne Bay grant program and the agreements still need to be executed.

“It’s about working collaboratively with our partners,” Hamilton said about federal, state, and local stakeholders’ involvement — including the South Florida Water Management District.

Sen. Ileana Garcia took the podium to thank Irela Bagué, Miami-Dade County’s first chief bay officer, and the many volunteers who regularly pick up garbage. She also credited Local 10 News Anchor Louis Aguirre’s Don’t Trash Our Treasure series for raising awareness.

DeSantis also said the state legislature’s special session in December will focus on solutions to the property insurance crisis. He attributed the cost increase partially to the fees lawyers charge to fight insurance claims.

“If you look nationwide, we have 8% of all claims the state of Florida represents, but we have 78% of all litigation expenses,” DeSantis said adding the “reforms” would be similar to those from “markets that are more stable.”

DeSantis’s news conference comes amid questions about whether or not he is preparing to face former President Donald Trump, who announced he wants to run for reelection in 2024.

A few hours before the meeting in Key Biscayne, Marquette Law School released a new poll that found that 42% would vote for DeSantis. This is despite controversies on migrant flights and education policies.

The HarperCollins imprint Broadside announced on Wednesday that DeSantis’s “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival” memoir will be released on Feb. 28.

Watch the news conference

Last year’s projects on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Biscayne Bay program

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About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.