We’re finally here. The 2017 session of the Florida Legislature officially starts Tuesday when the House and Senate call their chambers to order, then gather for a joint session to hear Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State address.
This may be the first and last time this year we see the “three-legged stool” that is the foundation of our state government in one piece. Things are tense, folks.
Here are a few things I will be watching for this upcoming session:
1. Where the Senate lands on the economic development debate. The governor and House, led by Speaker Richard Corcoran, have been trading shots via social media and interviews over their disagreement on business incentives and tourism marketing.
I don’t expect Senate President Joe Negron or his colleagues to join the public feud; they’re wise to stay out of that. But when it comes to actual policy, the Senate could position itself as the mediator or align more closely with either the House or Scott’s position. What they do will have implications over the rest of the session.
2. Whether a gambling bill includes slot machines for Duval. Right now, the Senate has a bill that would allow Bestbet Jacksonville its slots. The House gambling bill does not. If the Florida Supreme Court finally announces a ruling on the lawsuit involving Gadsden County’s slots referendum, it could turn the gambling debate on its head.
3. The budget. So much is wrapped up in where and how the state chooses to spend its money. Will the St. Johns River get a dedicated funding source for conservation projects? Will traditional public schools be required to share property tax revenue with charters? Will hospitals see state funding slashed?
4. You. Yes, you! It’s time for your elected officials to hear from you, and over the next 60 days you should be letting them know what you think. Whether the feedback is positive or respectfully negative, they need to hear it directly from you.
Here is a contact list for the entire Northeast Florida delegation. Clip it out or print and save it for later.
AARON BEAN (R) — Nassau and part of Duval — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-757-5039
ROB BRADLEY (R) — Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Suwanee, Union and part of Marion — email@example.com, 904-278-2085
AUDREY GIBSON (D) — Part of Duval — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-359-2553
TRAVIS HUTSON (R) — Flagler, St. Johns and part of Volusia — email@example.com, 386-446-7610
KEITH PERRY (R) — Alachua, Putnam and part of Marion counties — firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-264-4040
ELIZABETH W. PORTER (R) – Baker, Columbia, Hamilton and Suwanee and part of Alachua — email@example.com, 386-719-4600
CORD BYRD (R) — Nassau and the Beaches in Duval — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-242-3495
CLAY YARBOROUGH (R) – Arlington and the Southside — email@example.com, 904-723-5300
TRACIE DAVIS – (D) – Downtown, Northwest Jacksonville, San Marco and West Arlington — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-353-2180
KIMBERLY DANIELS (D) — Northside and Westside — email@example.com, 904-696-5928
JAY FANT (R) — Westside and Baldwin — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-381-6011
JASON FISCHER (R) — Southside and Mandarin — email@example.com, 904-332-7297
CYNDI STEVENSON (R) — St. Augustine and northern St. Johns — firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-823-2300
W. TRAVIS CUMMINGS (R) — Orange Park and northern Clay — email@example.com, 904-278-5761
BOBBY PAYNE (R) — Putnam, Bradford and Union and southern Clay — firstname.lastname@example.org, 386-312-2272
PAUL RENNER (R) — Flagler, southern St. Johns, northern Volusia — email@example.com, 386-446-7644