I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Big Day in Tallahassee Today, Part I

Today is a big day in Tallahassee.  Members of the Florida Association of Counties, commissioners from around the state, are coming to Tallahassee to speak with our representatives about several areas of concern, most notably the ongoing attempts by the legislature to erode local control of counties and cities.

While erosion of local control is a real concern, several recent attempts at this have been blunted by FAC.  Proposal 95 from the Constitution Revision Commission has been beaten back and did not emerge from the committee process.  Several other proposals did emerge and will be challenged going forward.

A recent law passed by the legislature allowing cell phone co-locating on county owned property for next to no compensation continues to anger locally elected officials statewide.

This year, a pair of new bills being pushed by the legislature (SB1400 HB773) are aimed at limiting what types of regulations counties and cities can implement and enact on housing that is frequently rented to visitors on sites like air BNB and VRBO.  The crux of this proposed legislation is that it ties the hands of local leaders by NOT allowing any locally generated regulations be aimed at these short term rentals specifically;  the law, if enacted, would make counties and cities tailor any law for short term rentals to apply equally to ALL other housing units in a jurisdiction's boundaries.

New initiatives aimed at improving cyber-security for County Elections supervisors are being watched closely by FAC--as everyone supports enhanced security.  The problem becomes the funding of these new ideas.   If new measures are mandated by the state without an ongoing funding mechanism to support these measures--this  could translate into another unfunded mandate for counties around the state.  The good news that came from our morning session was that the equipment and the first year's operational costs are supposedly going to be funded by the state.  After the first year, it was mentioned that the yearly maintenance costs for this cyber security system may be minimal ($650-$1,200 Monthly).

Another big push from FAC members today will be on the issue of affordable housing.  With Hurricanes Irma and Maria wrecking havoc this year, there is a movement afoot in the house to make 100% of the SHIP funds available exclusively for hurricane recovery--meaning the entire panhandle would receive none of these funds this year.  (Last year Escambia County received $1.3 Million in SHIP funding) The Governor's proposal funds Hurricane recovery and traditional SHIP funding roughly equally, and the Senate's budget fully funds both traditional and hurricane recovery usages for affordable housing monies.  FAC urges the legislature to senate's version.

I have met with Rep. White, and I'll meet with Rep. Ingram and Senator Broxson while I am here to advocate for these positions listed above and most importantly I'll lobby these gentlemen to please preserve and respect local control, because government closest to the people governs best!

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