Rep. Loranne Ausley, Sen. Bill Montford, Rep. Ramon Alexander and Rep. Halsey Beshears, listen to constituents at the Leon Legislative Delegation meeting
(Photo: James Call)
The priorities are set but the negotiation strategies are still in flux as Florida lawmakers prepare to come to Tallahassee in search of money for local projects.
The spring legislative session begins in March and the number one job for lawmakers is to spend money. That is, write a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The Legislature, last week, began to dig into Governor Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendations for next year. DeSantis has set a $91.3 billion marker upon which lawmakers can begin to add to or (less likely) subtract from.
Whatever emerges after 60 days of politicking, if the past is any guide, will contain hundreds of millions of dollars of local projects, often called pork. They are sometimes known as earmarks and take the shape of money to build a new road, or a nature trail or to try a local experiment to curb crime or help shut-ins.
Gov. DeSantis has proposed a $91 billion budget. Leon lawmakers will try to get Tallahassee’s share when the Legislative session begins in March
The Florida House set a Feb. 5 deadline for representatives to file specific appropriations requests. Tallahassee Representatives Ramon Alexander and Loranne Ausley submitted 30 bills to secure more than $39 million for local projects. They, along with Sen. Bill Montford, will compete with 117 other lawmakers for a share of the additional $1 billion in revenue the state is expected to have for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
DeSantis, as highlighted in notes staff prepared for a Leon County Commission state budget discussion, has placed a priority on clean water. And much of the local legislative wish list is for water projects, more than $25 million.
Some of those projects are to harden sewer and stormwater facilities to withstand hurricane-driven rain and wind.
the 2019 Legislative Session begins March 5
And there is another $2 million in storm-related requests that don’t involve water-related infrastructure. After Michael and three consecutive years of major hurricanes hitting the state, the county expects requests for storm readiness and recovery money to be well received by the Legislature.
“The backup generators we’re going to push hard for and for any septic-to-sewer projects we can get,” said Jeff Sharkey, of the Capitol Alliance Group, which lobbies for Leon County.
“The governor has been committed to water projects and infrastructure, so if there is additional funding for hurricane-impacted counties some additional revenue flows to some of these projects,” said Sharkey.
With that in mind, here’s the list of special project requests filed by Tallahassee representatives Ramon Alexander and Loranne Ausley.
HB 2049 – Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network – $475,000
The money would provide grants to the network of more than 30 museums.
HB 2075 – Leon County Lake Henrietta Renovation – $1,500,000
The dredging project would remove sediment and litter to improve water flow to Wakulla Springs.
HB 2077 – Leon County Orchard Pond Greenway – $300,000
The project will create recreational trails adjoining the Orchard Pond Parkway in Northeast Leon County. Florida’s first privately-funded toll road.
Orchard Pond Parkway — the first privately built toll road in Florida, is seen here under construction on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. A bill would create recreational trails along the road.
(Photo: Joe Rondone/Democrat)
HB 2079 – Leon County Harbinwood Estates Septic to Sewer – $2,500,000
The project to connect Harbinwood Estates to the City of Tallahassee central sewer system would reduce the nitrogen load to Wakulla Springs by 8,000 pounds per year, according to Alexander.
HB 2093 – Leon County – Offender Reentry Assistance – $300,000
The money would be spent on support services to reintegrate into society up to 100 county residents after their release from state prison.
HB 2195 – Living Stones’ COVE Learning Academy – $305,000
To provide pediatric behavioral counseling for up to 200 traumatized children in Leon, Gadsden and Jefferson counties.
HB 2257 – TCC – Business Info Tech Labs – $10,702,157
The project would remodel 69,617 square feet of classroom into technology labs suitable for business enterprise instruction for 676 student stations.
HB 2271 – Backup Generator – Secondary Special Needs Shelter – $300,000
The money would purchase a backup generator so the Florida Department of Health facility on West Orange Ave. will be able to serve as an emergency shelter location for citizens with special needs.
Latoria McKelvey tends to her her 4-year-old son Evan at the Department of Health’s special needs shelter before Hurricane Irma. Evan has cerebral palsy and needed a place with reliable generators for his feeding tubes.
(Photo: Nada Hassanein/Democrat)
HB 2273 – Backup Generators – Branch Libraries and Community – $1,000,000
The project seeks to install backup generators at eight Leon County branch libraries and community centers to support disaster response and recovery operations.
HB 2275 – State Employee Health Plan Diabetes Value Based Pilot – $250,000
The money would fund an experiment to see whether a value-based diabetes contract with a health plan system would save money and produce better outcomes for patients.
HB 2277 – Tallahassee Jewish Community Inc., Safety Initiative – $450,000
The money would train staff on security measures, hire off-duty law enforcement to protect worshipers and preschoolers until the building used by 350 families is fully secured.
Pets brought to the Red Cross emergency shelter at Rickards High School are housed in the school’s weight room Sunday.
(Photo: Hali Tauxe/Democrat)
HB 2449 – Florida Youth Leadership, Mentoring Pilot – $425,000
A program designed to provide educational and life skills instruction and mentoring support for youth.
HB 2451 – TEMPO Workforce Training Disconnected Youth – $650,000
Tallahassee Engaged in Meaningful Productivity for Opportunity program provides workforce training scholarships to disconnected youths.
HB 2537 – Chattahoochee Emergency Serv-Lift Stations – $340,000
To install emergency bypass pumps at four locations throughout Chattahoochee. The pumps will be operated by an independent set of float controls
HB 2539 – Lively Technical Center – Instructional Aircraft – $250,000
To purchase an instructional aircraft for students enrolled in the Aviation Maintenance Program students’ preparations for the FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certification.
HB 2683 – Mental & Telehealth Services for Children & Families – $485,000
Funds will be used to hire physicians, nurse practitioners, and mental health clinicians to meet the increased need for services by children and families affected by the hurricane.
HB 2685 – Alzheimer’s Project, Inc. – $140,740
The money would provide assessments and coordinate services and establish an additional social respite sites in Leon, Jackson or Madison counties to provide support to caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
HB 2687 – Independence Landing – $800,000
Spearheaded by Allison Tant, who is running for state House to replace Ausley, this bill would create permanent housing units for independent living for adult persons with developmental disabilities.
HB 2695 – Leon County Fred George Wetland Restoration – $1,000,000
The money would pay for a regrade of the topography to intercept debris at a major inflow point to Fred George Sink, a karst feature located within the Ochlockonee River watershed and the Wakulla Springs basin area.
HB 2697 – Leon County Centerville Trace Septic to Sewer Project – $1,000,000
The project to connect the Centerville Trace neighborhood to the City of Tallahassee sewer system would reduce the total nitrogen load by 3,100 pounds per year.
HB 2699 – Leon County Fords Arm Restoration – $5,100,000
The project would retrofit Timberlane Creek to improve the quality of storm water before it enters Lake Jackson, a State Aquatic Preserve and an Outstanding Florida Water.
Paddling out to enjoy the full moon at Lake Jackson.
HB 2863 – Quincy Sparkleberry Rd – Oak Grove Ln Utility Extension – $2,100,000
To extend sewer services to a neighborhood of 70 residences and construct a 10,000-linear foot gravity sewer collection system and lift station.
HB 2865 – Midway Septic to Sewer – $2,605,000
The project would begin removal of septic tanks in five of the city’s subdivisions.
HB 2867 – Gretna Emergency Services-Lift Stations – $425,000
The project would install mounted emergency bypass pumps at 5 locations throughout the city.
HB 2869 – Quincy Lift Station Resiliency – $510,000
The project would install mounted emergency bypass pumps at 6 locations.
HB 2871 – Havana Lift Station Rehabilitation – $300,000
A maintenance project at two lift stations may include the replacement of pumps and controls, lining of wet wells, electrical upgrades and site improvements.
HB 2909 – Chattahoochee City Hall/ Emergency Mgmt. Building – $500,000 Chattahoochee wants to renovate a building to serve as an emergency command center.
HB 3013 – TCC – Leon Works Expo Program – $100,000
The Leon Works Expo and Junior Apprenticeship Program provides students with entry-level skills training and work experience.
HB 3015 – TCC – Building Automation System – $1,500,000
Remodel 16,550 sq.-ft of space into student labs for the Building Automation Systems program.
HB 3017 – FAMU Brooksville Research Station – $1,719,136
The research station provides farmers and students technical information on sustainable agriculture, food safety and business management.
HB 3025 – Havana Sprayfield Land Acquisition – $1,500,000
Havana wants to purchase 125 acres from Coastal Lumber Company for the town’s effluent spray field.
Writer James Call can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @CallTallahassee