By Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca
It is the beginning of a new Florida Legislative session in Tallahassee, which means I will be traveling to our state’s Capitol on your behalf to advocate for many of the issues the Board of County Commissioners has identified in our 2013 State Legislative Program. Last year, I reported to you on my activities in Tallahassee, which included presenting during the opening week of the Legislative session in a panel discussion before the House Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee. The presentation, "Local Government Economic Development Tools: Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy," focused on the County’s collaboration with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. I was also pleased to meet with Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam, members of both the House and Senate Leadership and the members of our Broward Legislative Delegation to discuss beach renourishment funding, as well as funding for Port Everglades.
My priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session have changed little – our beaches continue to be a critical part of our travel and tourism industry, generating jobs and revenues. They continue to remain our first line of defense against hurricanes and storm surge threats to life and property. We know this all too well with the recent damage to A1A and the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There was also extensive damage to both the Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach fishing piers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that more than one-third of Florida’s 787 miles of beaches are in a state of critical erosion. With that said the Board has identified our support for a $20.8 million state appropriation request submitted by Broward County to support mitigation construction, sand and monitoring of the Segment II Beach Renourishment Project as a federally-reimbursable project.
Additionally, as one of South Florida’s leading economic powerhouses, Port Everglades is the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. Already the second busiest cruise port in the world, Port Everglades is also one of the nation’s leading container ports and south Florida’s main seaport for receiving petroleum products, including gasoline, jet fuel and alternative fuels. The total economic activity at Port Everglades is approximately $15.3 billion. Port Everglades employs 11,300 people who work for companies that provide direct services, and has an impact of more than 160,000 Florida jobs. These jobs generate $532 million in state and local taxes. The Board is supporting a $34.5 million appropriation request for funds for preliminary engineering, design, permitting and construction for projects associated with the Southport Turning Notch, which will create 2,227 temporary construction jobs, 5,529 new regional permanent jobs and $252.2 million in local and state revenue.
Likewise, I have also identified two additional priorities that I plan to advocate for on your behalf: Early Voting Site Expansion and legislation prohibiting Texting While Driving. For those of us who live in eastern Broward County from county line to county line, we have almost no access to early voting sites located near our homes or places of businessI worked very closely with the staff in the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Office to identify many different possible locations, but due to state statutes, the SOE is limited in the type of locations that she can use. The Board, at my urging, is supporting legislation amending state law to allow Supervisors of Elections to designate municipal community centers as early voting sites in addition to the current locations (city halls, SOE branch offices, and public library facilities).
It is documented that texting while driving causes 1.6 million accidents per year; 330,000 injuries per year; 11 teen deaths every day; nearly 25 percent of all car accidents; it also makes you 23 times more likely to crash. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. This is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded! For all of these reasons the Board is supporting legislation prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle while manually typing in a wireless communications device.
These are just a few of the items that I will be advocating for on your behalf in Tallahassee. As always, each Commissioner identifies his/her own priorities and focuses on those issues, and together we work to advocate on behalf of all of Broward County. You can view the County’s 2013 State Legislative Program in its entirety on our website, www.broward.org and searching under the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs page.
I never lose sight of what is important. That is you the residents of our beautiful district. If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 954-357-7004 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay updated by viewing our website broward.org/commission/district4, as well as signup to receive email updates from us.
As always, it is an honor to serve you.