Leon County Commissioners Get Update, Support Legislative Priorities

Leon County Commissioners Get Update, Support Legislative Priorities

The Board of Leon County Commissioners received an update on proposed legislative appropriation requests at its 2020 State and Federal Priorities Workshop on Sept. 24.

The Board, County legislative staff, and contract lobbyists hold the workshop yearly to consider top priorities for the next state and federal legislative sessions.

The workshop enables the County’s legislative team to receive guidance from the Board regarding priority legislative issues and directs the County’s lobbying efforts for the upcoming year at both the state and federal level.

Leon County Commissioners voted to adopt the proposed legislative initiatives and added a request.

Jeff Sharkey, Leon County’s lobbyist, told commissioners that Governor DeSantis has been receptive to meeting with local representatives. He also said that now that DeSantis has a year under his belt, Leon County should have more success with the appropriation process.

Both Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley and Kristin Dozier asked several questions about getting more support for apprenticeship programs.

Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor made a motion to add support for a statewide request of $450,000 that would benefit, in part, the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History. The motion passed unanimously.

The original list of legislative appropriation requests for Leon County included nine projects.

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According to the agenda, the Florida Legislature is unlikely to give considerable funding to local projects because it expects a small budget surplus of $289.3 million. However, the legislature has previously funded local projects that are reflective of priorities.

For this reason, the workshop’s policy and appropriation priorities “are organized to target the County’s most pressing issues and best align with the anticipated priorities of the 2020 state and federal legislative sessions,” staff reports.

These targeted projects include a $2.5 million Harbinwood Estates Septic-to-Sewer project. According to the appropriation request information form, the project will help protect natural water sources from pollution by connecting Harbinwood Estates wastewater collection to the City’s central sewer system. The $2.5 million request covers engineering and permitting fees, as the project is in its beginning phases.

Other high-cost requests are a $1.5 million Lake Henrietta renovation and $1 million Fred George Wetland restoration.

In addition to the legislative appropriations, staff recommends working towards executive branch grants for 14 other high-priority county projects.

These additional projects mainly concern construction, including $29.7 million construction on Woodville Highway, $10 million construction on Capital Circle Southwest, and $5.1 million construction on a Capital Cascades trail.

The agenda also notes seven state and three federal legislative policy issues. State issues include protecting the state workforce, supporting the restoration of Amtrak passenger service and opposing the relocation of the state capital.

Federal policy issues include support for Amtrak passenger rail service and an application to establish a foreign trade zone at the Tallahassee International Airport.

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