Port Everglades Deepening and Widening

The certified PENIP cost of $843.5M will be paid with Port Everglades revenue generated through port user fees, federal appropriations, and state grants. No local property taxes will be used for this project because Port Everglades is a self-funded enterprise of Broward County. This is a significant investment in Port Everglades and Broward County’s future. This is a complex project because of Port Everglades’ unique environment — manatees, corals, limestone hardbottom, and seagrasses, so, we are investing in additional environmental mitigation and monitoring, as well as the implementation of a robust adaptive management plan. We have one opportunity to get the environmental piece right. We are committed to adding science-based environmental considerations and mitigation activities that will ensure that our unique natural environment and wildlife are protected for the duration of the construction process such as protocols to limit turbidity and damage to coral through best practices learned from dredging at other ports. We intend to deliver a project that has a high return on investment and is environmentally sensitive. 

Pell Grants for Short-Term Training

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and businesses throughout the United States need a steady stream of qualified workers to fill new and vacant positions. Congress needs to help more workers gain employment. To do this, we urge Congress to pass S.864, the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2021 or the JOBS Act of 2021.

Central & Southern Florida Flood Control System

The C&SF Project was first authorized by Congress in 1948. It is a multi-purpose civil works project that provides flood control, supplies water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses, prevents saltwater intrusion, supplies water for Everglades National Park, and protects fish and wildlife resources. The primary system includes about 1,000 miles of levees, 720 miles of canals, and almost 200 water control structures. Local governments and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) actively coordinate to support water management planning, operations, and investments.

The C&SF Project is now nearly 80 years beyond its original design, yet still serves as the central means for protecting the region’s 6 million residents from flooding. Meanwhile, the region is dealing with changes in the physical environment including increased rainfall and sea level rise. A 2009 analysis by the SFWMD noted that 18 flood control structures were already within 6 inches of their design capacity. Based on Army Corps projections and sea level rise to date, we expect to hit this threshold by 2035. 

The challenge is not just limited to Southeast Florida, as vulnerabilities have been identified across the SFWMD’s operations in 16 counties, and include flooding, storm surge impacts, and exposed water supplies. A properly functioning C&SF Project is vital to our livelihood and way of life in South Florida and is the cornerstone around which all regional investments are calibrated.

The Section 216 Flood Risk Management Study of the C&SF flood control system was provided $500,000 in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Omnibus federal spending package and has been recommended to receive an additional $475,000 in the USACE FY 2023 budget. The USACE and the SFWMD anticipate signing the cost-share agreement by September. 

Unfortunately, given its limited authorization, the Section 216 Study will only investigate coastal salinity structures, not the inland flood control structures and resilience needs that are critical to the economic vitality of the region. Instead, a separate, more comprehensive study of the C&SF Flood Control System is required. 

The C&SF Comprehensive Review Study is critical to assess the full extent of Florida’s aging flood control system given sea level rise and higher water table conditions to ensure its resilience. The proposed study is the highest ranked new study recommendation to come from the South Atlantic Coastal Study (SACS). The anticipated goal of the study is to minimize risks to community lifelines (safety and security, food, water, shelter, health and medical, energy, communications, transportation and hazardous materials) and to the overall quality of life of South Florida’s communities and their environment through the implementation of strategies to increase resilience in the region. The USACE and the SFWMD will each be responsible for 50% of the study cost.

Issues Team designees will advocate for the authorization of the C&SF Resiliency Comprehensive Study in the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) 2022. Additionally, Issues Team members should educate the Congressional delegation on the timeline for completion of the C&SF Resiliency Study that will ultimately lead to construction.

Support Equitable Voting Rights

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce supports the protection of voting rights for all Americans, expansion of access to the ballot, increased ethical standards for elected and appointed officials, and protection of elections from foreign and domestic interference.

Green Hydrogen Production Tax Credit

In the United States, hydrogen has been used for decades in high volumes to produce fertilizer, methanol, and various specialty chemicals, and also to refine products derived from oil and to process foods. Frequently described as “gray hydrogen”, the vast majority of this hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels which generate significant carbon dioxide emissions. Substituting green hydrogen derived from renewable electricity can be a mechanism to decarbonize many sectors of the economy. In addition, there is accelerating market demand for green hydrogen for long-duration energy storage to decarbonize the power sector, and as a transportation fuel for zero-emissions trucking. Overall, green hydrogen offers the opportunity to eliminate substantial carbon dioxide emissions while simultaneously creating new American jobs in renewable energy and equipment manufacturing.

Green hydrogen is generated with an electrolyzer, using water and electricity obtained from zero-emissions energy sources. Using an electrolyzer, surplus renewable electricity can be converted to hydrogen, storing dispatchable energy with zero greenhouse gas emissions. However, with few incentives for decarbonizing, electrolyzer production volumes remain low and the pace of efficiency gains is limited. Current estimates put the price of gray hydrogen production at ~$1/kg, while green hydrogen is ~$4/kg, a significant price disadvantage.

Currently there is no federal incentive for green hydrogen, and several states have put in place only limited incentives. President Biden’s clean energy pledge promised to ensure “the market can access green hydrogen at the same cost as conventional hydrogen within a decade.” Congress has also expressed interest in low-carbon or green hydrogen. This technology is ripe for inclusion in upcoming climate and energy legislation.

A recent Boston Consulting Group analysis calculated that a federal $3/kg incentive for producing green hydrogen could expand the market to $58B-68B in revenue by 2050, triggering $1.5T-2T of investment. This policy would dramatically accelerate electrolyzer production and technical innovation, driving down the price of green hydrogen at a similar rate as has been demonstrated in solar panels and batteries over the past decade. The incentive would create 0.9-2.3 million jobs over that period, while abating 110-160 million tons of CO2 per year.

Support Federal Funding for New River Crossing

The marine industry clusters 121,000 middle class jobs in Broward County and 149,000 jobs regionally in maritime businesses promoting boating lifestyles from family cruising and fishing to yachts. The goods and services that sustain them create an economic output of $9.7 billion in Broward County and $12.5 billion regionally.

The New River Bascule bridge just south of Andrews Avenue, utilized traditionally for freight traffic, is also used as a passenger rail corridor for Brightline. To this point, we have been able to work with all interested parties to make sure that marine traffic keeps moving. However, discussions about a commuter rail system known as Coastal Link has created concern that it would negatively impact marine traffic.

Coastal Link would create a commuter rail with stops in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach. Details are being worked out for access to the corridor owned by Florida East Coast Railway.

A feasibility study was requested by Broward County from the Florida Department of Transportation for an additional solution to traverse the New River which would allow for marine traffic to operate. Commuter rail plays an

important role within the County’s overall strategy for improving transportation and mobility at the local and regional level. The Broward Commuter Rail Project is a commuter rail system like Tri-Rail and SunRail that would operate on the FEC railroad corridor. It will provide commuter rail access to the densely populated coastal municipalities in Broward County and Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade is advancing the Northeast Corridor commuter rail project on the FEC corridor. Compared to the Brightline intercity passenger rail service, commuter rail service has more frequent stops with two-to-five-mile station spacing. Commuter rail lends itself to shorter trips, facilitates commuting, shopping and recreation. The project will connect to the planned premium east-west transit corridors on Broward Boulevard and throughout Broward County.

The Broward County Commission anticipates to make a decision on a locally preferred alternative (LPA) sometime in 2022. Regardless of what is selected as the LPA, we will require federal funding to complete the project coupled with local commitments. Cost of construction ranges from $444 million and $98 million in right-of-way to $1.8 billion and $150 million in right-of-way (this does not include a low-level bridge because of the marine traffic issue).

Support Restoring the Resilient Reefs Act

Coral reefs in the United States provide many benefits, including biodiversity, coastal protection, improved fisheries, medicine, and critical tourism and recreational opportunities. Florida’s coral reef runs parallel to our coastline from Monroe County north to Martin County. It is a valuable national resource that protects our shores and beaches by reducing wave energy from storms and hurricanes while providing flood protection valued at over $675 million per year and over $1 billion during extreme weather events. Florida’s coral reef ecosystem provides vital marine habitat for over 6,000 species, including species found nowhere else on earth. Florida’s coral reef ecosystem is essential to the state’s commercial fishing and tourism industries, providing over 71,000 jobs within the region, and generating more than $6 billion in positive impact annually. 

Unfortunately, the Florida’s coral reef is suffering from a tremendous disease outbreak that threatens its survival, with 90 percent of the reef impacted. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act will modernize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 and direct a large share of federal funding directly to states and impacted communities so that management priorities and conservation and restoration activities are locally driven; enhance collaboration and provision of technical assistance and expertise to support state and local initiatives; sustain critical research and create opportunities for new partnerships; reform reporting, measurement, and analysis procedures to increase the efficacy of coral reef interventions; and create new avenues for the provision of emergency funds to ensure rapid, effective responses to coral reef emergencies. 

The bipartisan Restoring Resilient Reefs Act (RRRA, H.R. 160 and S. 46), introduced by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), is an essential and overdue update to the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 that will meaningfully enhance the protection of these unique ecosystems that underpin significant cultural, social, and economic interests within the United States. The RRRA will give new tools to non-federal partners, who are closest to the coral crisis, including states, territories, tribes, communities, and universities, allowing for emergency grants and an energy fund for coral disasters. The legislation also creates a block grant program where states and territories can receive federal funds to incentivize increased state and local investment in coral reefs. 

The U.S. Senate passed the RRRA via unanimous consent during the 116th Congress, and most recently, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the RRRA in 2021. A version of the RRRA passed the U.S. House earlier this year as part of the American COMPETES Act. Southeast Florida needs the bill to pass both the House and Senate before the end of this year to become law, Florida’s corals are dying and the status quo is not feasible. 

Tax Incentives to Convert Underutilized Commercial Property Into Residential Units

REALTORS® strive to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to achieve homeownership, which is the centerpiece of the American Dream and the pathway to economic well-being and intergenerational wealth-building. However, a historic 50-year record shortage of affordable homes available for purchase has severely limited access to the residential real estate market.  

A recent study estimates that the U.S. has developed an “underbuilding gap” of 5.5 million housing units over the last 20 years. This translates into a $4.4 trillion underinvestment in housing. Even relatively modest steps taken now to reduce this gap will unleash tremendous economic activity and create millions of new jobs.  

At the same time, the pandemic created shifts in the commercial real estate market, especially in the office and retail sectors. Policies that support repurposing underutilized or vacant commercial properties can revitalize communities by creating new commercial uses and housing.

• Cosponsor the bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act, which creates a Local Housing Policy Grant program for cities, states, tribes, and regional associations to enact pro-housing policies at the local level.

In the Senate, S. 902: sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

In the House, H.R. 2126: sponsored by Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Joyce Beatty (D-OH).

• Cosponsor the bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), which would offer tax credits
to attract private investment for building and rehabilitating owner-occupied homes, creating a pathway to
neighborhood stability through sustainable homeownership. The NHIA would expand homeownership
opportunities and provide a powerful incentive to build and rehabilitate 500,000 homes for low- and
moderate-income homeowners over the next decade. The NHIA is intended to fill the gap in areas where it is often more expensive to develop or rehabilitate than appraisal values will support.

S.98: sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Todd Young (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tim Scott (R-SC).

H.R. 2143: sponsored by Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY).

• Cosponsor the GREATER Revitalization of Shopping Centers Act, which creates a grant within the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program to incentivize public and private investment in abandoned and underutilized shopping malls. The Section 108 Program provides communities with a source of low-cost, long-term financing for economic and community development projects, which has proven effective in drawing additional investments into projects. This legislation would provide an additional grant of up to $5 million to communities with qualifying shopping centers to repurpose them for a range of uses, including the development of affordable housing.

H.R 5041: sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and Cynthia Axne (D-IA).

• Cosponsor the Revitalizing Downtowns Act, which creates a Qualified Office Conversion Tax Credit to convert unused office buildings into residential, commercial, and mixed-use properties.

H.R. 4759: sponsored by Representatives Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), and John B. Larson (D-CT).

S. 2511: sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

Solutions that Spur New Housing Supply

Our economy, communities, and the American people suffer when discrimination and segregation artificially constrain homeownership and limit the intergenerational wealth it builds. As stewards of the right to own, use, and transfer private property, REALTORS® and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce know an open housing market free from discrimination benefits us all.  

Yet, more than fifty years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, the homeownership rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans continues to lag behind that of White Americans. Our Delegation is firmly committed to the enforcement of fair housing laws and to policies that remove historic and systemic barriers to homeownership for all qualified buyers.

• Cosponsor the Housing Fairness Act, which would reauthorize and increase funding for HUD fair housing testing and enforcement programs.

S. 769: sponsored by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

H.R. 68: sponsored by Representative Al Green (D-TX).

Tax Incentives for Property Ownership

Lending Equality for All

Pediatric & Adolescent Behavioral Health

Support investments that are needed now to better support and sustain the full continuum of care needed for children’s mental health. These investments will significantly impact our children and our country for the better as we avoid more serious and costly outcomes later.