TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Cemeteries around Florida are lying forgotten and derelict.

Some are paved over or used as empty lots for storage. More often than not, these are historic Black cemeteries.

“It creates the wrong precedent,” Natasha Goodley said. “If we don’t do something to step up and preserve these cemeteries.”

Goodley, a Tampa resident, is advocating for change after seeing and hearing about her local cemeteries that are long gone. She has seen what she calls “desecration” of final resting places.

“A lot of these are older cemeteries,” Goodley explained. “So these individuals were disrespected in their life, and now disrespected in their death.”

Goodley is crossing her fingers a recent bill making its way through subcommittees in the Florida State House of Representatives will protect historic cemeteries.

“This is a bill that would finally bring dignity to those who are buried in those cemeteries,” State Representative Fentrice Driskell said. “Also give the descendant community some peace of mind.”

The Democrat minority leader from Hillsborough County updated and reintroduced the bill after it didn’t make it through last session.

“When I learned about this, to me, it was sad,” Driskell said. “It was not completely shocking because I understand our state’s history.”

The proposed bill would allow the state to check if private property has a former burial site on it.

“The legislation would allow the state to have an easement and use the most non-invasive means possible, really the least invasive means possible,” Driskell said. “Such as ground penetrating radar, so as not to disturb the land of the private property owner.”

Previous work in the state legislature already established a task force to address the issue. The new legislation would also create an advisory committee to help the state handle discovered cemeteries.

Driskell says she has a lot of bipartisan support for the bill and is optimistic the timing is right in this session of the state Congress to get it passed. If it does pass, it would take effect July 1.