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Local Issues - Local Topics

 

Everyday new issues crop up in our area.  Here are some of the most pressing.

The Power Pyramid

Elections

The Homeless

FPL Rate Increase

Volusia County Teachers and support Pay

Beach Driving

CRA

Taxes

Medical Marijuana

Other current topics

DON’T TURN AWAY

What Big John might call the “least worst” session of the Florida Legislature in recent years has closed its run, with final judgement on its accomplishments awaiting the results of possible veto actions by the Governor. The media attention now turns to some of those outcomes, but the spotlight dims on the way legislation really is created.

 For those concerned with the way government impacts our lives and pocketbooks, the end of the session should mean the start of planning and action for the next one. That’s the way the lobbyists and big money players work, and the way people can actually make a difference in whether actions taken in Tallahassee are done TO us or FOR us.

For example, the rule of thumb is that legislation tinged with controversy usually takes two or three sessions to win approval or be permanently shelved. What current members said during this session and what candidates will say between now and the November election will tell a lot about what happens in 2017 and beyond.

For example, if you care about education, looking at the positions of legislators and candidates on the issue of taking money from public schools to fund the growth of Charter schools and move them further from local controls. There are 251,000 youngsters enrolled in 650 Charter schools and 2,7 million in more than 3,600 District schools, but some house members pushed hard to provide $90 million of capital funding for the charters and only 50 million for all the rest. Good charter schools are generally applauded for contributing to quality education. But how much tax dollar funding they should have is a real question and the time to get it discussed is during elections, when candidates listen, and before the next Legislature convenes.

Don’t think that gambling issues are dead. Or the tug of war between taxi companies and the ride-share operators like Uber and Lyft are sidelined. The National Rifle Association saw pet legislation shot down, but don’t think their efforts are stalled. A ban on providing public funds for organizations associated with abortion clinics passed late in the session, assuring candidates for the House and Senate will hear about those issues during the summer and fall.

Other issues that have the potential to affect lifestyle and taxes that you may want to form and express an opinion on include:

· Planning for the impact of ocean rise, which in the next decade will impact some 60% of Florida’s population living within 10 miles of the coastline.

· The related impact of salt water intrusion on the water table, and the availability of fresh water to sustain the current population, and support continued growth.

· Florida’s connection to the national concern with lead contamination, more here from pipes in older homes than water systems. Whose responsibility is it to detect and correct problem areas?

· Expansion of gambling. From the Seminole Compact to adding more card rooms, many dollars ride on outcomes.

· Environmental Protection. The Governor and Legislature have diverted Department of Environmental Protection funds for operation and acquisitions that citizens had been assured were “locked in” for operating expenses of other departments replacing general revenue. In the current session those who care didn’t make enough noise to stop the pickpocket practices.

· Judicial Reform. From inequities in bail bonds from county to county to uniform sentencing to deteriorating prisons, the system is generally considered in need of major overhaul. Do taxpayers support that effort?

· Infrastructure. Bridges. Water and sewer lines. Waterways vital to tourism and commerce. Public buildings. The wheels on which government provides public services are shaky and starting to fall off. Piecemeal patching is costly and inefficient. Planning isn’t apt to happen unless taxpayers demand it.

· State vs. County. The Legislature has moved in the current session to usurp a variety of controls long considered the province of the counties. Control of transportation services (i.e. Uber, et al); county control over fracking; setting election dates and a variety of other “nibbles” at prerogatives that counties, especially those with Home Rule charters like Volusia, have considered their responsibility. The trend does not seem likely to go away and those who care should speak out while they can still be heard.

These are just a few of the issues that will benefit from discussion during the election season and before the next legislative session. Use GovGripes on this site to share with us items that concern you. Too few of us realize that, thanks to committee work and year-round lobbying, major issues are often largely decided before the Legislature is called to order. Tallahassee is a stage on which actions are formalized, but those actions are shaped by the input Legislators and decision makers deal with at home.

USE GOVGRIPES AND COMMENTS

If you have an issue on which you’d like more information or information you’d like to share with others who care about keeping government responsive, use the GovGripes/Comments tab at the top of the page to let us know. We’ll seek answers, if the interest is wide, we’ll suggest Big John discuss it on GovStuff Live!, or take your comment to an appropriate official or bureaucrat to see what they say. If you have a violation of a city or county code in your neighborhood, or see one elsewhere, grab a picture and send it to us to add to our Code Red tab. The goal is to make it hard to ignore the many violations that foster blight when ignored. It’s another way YOU can make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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