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Flagler’s Legislative Delegation Is Taking Requests: Hutson and Renner Hear Wish Lists Dec. 7

| November 28, 2018

Sen. Travis Hutson, left, and Rep. Paul Renner, both Republicans, at last year's legislative delegation meeting in Flagler, held at Palm Coast City Hall. (© FlaglerLive)

Sen. Travis Hutson, left, and Rep. Paul Renner, both Republicans, at last year’s legislative delegation meeting in Flagler, held at Palm Coast City Hall. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 4:54 p.m.

Here’s your chance to make a pitch for changes you’d like to see in state law: House Rep. Paul Renner and Sen. Travis Hutson, who represent Flagler and surrounding counties in Tallahassee, are holding their annual legislative meeting for Flagler governments and residents on Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. in the County Commission’s board chambers at Bunnell’s Government Services Building.

All local governments usually send a representative to the delegation to submit legislative poriorities. But the meeting is also an opportunity for local non-profits, business and individuals to submit their own proposals directly to the legislators, who then consider whether to turn the proposals into bills. Any bill’s chances of approval has long odds. But the odds narrow when a county’s legislative representatives have more seniority and more pull in committees.

That’s increasingly the case with Hutson and Renner, each of whom is angling for his chamber’s top leadership post. Assuming he continues to win races and the GOP remains in the majority, Renner is in line to be House Speaker in 2022. Hutson chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation, tourism and economic development.

The legislative delegation has been busy on behalf of Flagler, securing millions of dollars for the lion’s share of the ongoing, $28 million dunes-reconstruction project along Flagler’s shore, money for sewer p, money for improvements to the the Mala Compra drainage basin, money for extra help for County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, and, a few years ago, a bill that restored local government regulatory authority in vacation-rental rules–a bill that vacation-rental proponents have been trying to nullify since.

The 2019 legislative session begins March 5 and runs through May 3. It will be the first under a new governor in eight years. The new governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, is the first since colonial times to have direct ties to Flagler County, having been its congressional representative since 2012. DeSantis, however, was not very active locally nor as familiar with Flagler as, say, John Mica, who had represented most of the county for a few years before redistricting and DeSantis’s election in 2012.

Local governments hold their own legislative-priorities meetings weeks or months ahead of the meeting with legislators, and generally work from their previous year’s priorities as a baseline, with many issues recurring year after year.

Flagler government’s priorities still include renewing the financial help for an extra county judge: the current year appropriation was for one year only. Priorities also include securing more financial assistance to defray the cost of natural disasters (the county is still paying heavily for hurricanes Matthew and Irma), maintaining the status-quo with vacation rentals, protecting home rule, and keeping aviation fuel taxes at their current level, though it is a legislative goal to eventually eliminate those taxes. In that instance, Flagler’s goal runs against Renner’s, who favors the elimination. The fuller list, with rationales behind each priority, is here.

Palm Coast’s three priorities, discussed at a workshop in late July, are securing capital funding for the extension of a sewer main along with fiberoptic on the barrier island up to Marineland as part of a long-term goal to get barrier island residents off septic systems and broaden the city’s Fibernet reach; support the Flagler County school district’s classroom-to-careers initiatives; and secure capital funding for the next phase of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation’s planned cultural and performing arts center in Town Center. The priorities have not yet been formalized in a document. “We have been working on drafting the language of the specific requests with our partners,” Mayor Milissa Holland said.

Palm Coast discussed its regional priorities at the same workshop in July and adopted a formal resolution about them in August: protecting home rule–which has taken a beating in recent years with Tallahassee’s increasing appetite for “pre-emption,” the doctrine that a state law not only has precedence over local ordinances, but pre-empts local ordinances from diverging from state law–seeking state dollars for water and sewer projects, and seeking more dollars for beach protection. (The full list is here.)

But those priorities, Interim City Manager Beau Falgout explained, are intended to lend Palm Coast’s voice to more regional efforts with other local governments, through Flagler County and the Northeast Florida Regional Council, and differ from the more specific local priorities that will be presented to the legislative delegation in December. “When we get down to talking to our local delegation, we try to get specific items the city is focused on,” Falgout said.

Flagler Beach’s priorities mirror Palm Coast’s regional list, with one additional hope of accelerating reimbursements of disaster assistance. The Flagler Beach list is here.

The school board is focusing on seeking additional mental health funding to hire school counselors and expand mental health services in schools, ensuring that school choice is paired with continued local control of charter schools (the Legislature has been attempting to dilute or eliminate local school board’s oversight of local charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run), improving Flagler’s share of per-student funding, which remains among the lowest in the state, and help with its classroom-to-careers flagship programs. The full list is here.

After local elected officials address Renner and Hutson, the floor is turned over to organizations and individuals, about a dozen of whom usually make appearances and requests of their own. A speaker card is available here or below.

Interested citizens wishing to be placed on the agenda for the December 7, 2018 public hearing are asked to contact Representative Renner’s District Office staff (Samantha Story at (386) 446-7644), or fill out the form below. Those wishing to provide materials or handouts to the Flagler County Delegation members can mail them in advance of the public hearing to Representative Paul Renner’s District Office located at 4877 Palm Coast Parkway NW, Suite 1, Palm Coast, FL 32137.

Delegation meeting Speaking Request:

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5 Responses for “Flagler’s Legislative Delegation Is Taking Requests: Hutson and Renner Hear Wish Lists Dec. 7”

  1. Pogo says:

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  2. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Thank you, once again FlaglerLive, for letting me know what Flagler County refuses to tell me- or anyone else – that we are paying through the nose for our unsafe drinking water for one entire year!

    Although I have attended every meeting when the ‘Flagler County Utility’ appears on the agenda – mostly on the famous ‘Consent Agenda’ and have asked that the users and payors receive direct notification of all issues and have requested a citizen board of users and payers be created I have been I G N O R E D.

    The users and payors are pawns of the county’s waste of our money and more importantly playing their political games at the expense of our health as well. I would not have known that our drinking water failed 4 quarters in a row. SCARY as well as MALFEASANCE in my opinion for starters.

    We are now paying double what we paid before the county made their deal with the former owner to pay double the then appraised value of $2,5 million – . Problem is they voted on spending money of those without any vote or special election and the users in Volusia County don’t even get to vote commissioners out of office who squander their, and my money. The entire setup seems illegal to begin with but if everybody accepts this continual scam what else can I say other than I am not going to anymore,’
    Thanks Pierre – thanks a lot for telling me how my health and money are both of no concern to Flagler County

  3. Facts says:

    I hope they listen. But the odds on that happening are zero. If you search vacation rental regulations you will find a lot of cities through out this country tightening up regulations not loosening them. But that’s what Travis Hutson wants to do. Last year he voted against his constituents in favor of the vacation rental industry. I challenge Hutson and Renner to introduce a bill that will repeal 2011 Senate bill that took away local home rule and removed the right of local municipalities to use their zoning laws to protect single family neighborhoods from incompatible uses. Because all these vacation rental businesses are transient public lodging establishments. They all use licensing agreements just like a hotel, motel and B&B. All these public lodging establishments should be regulated locally and all the regulations should be uniformed. All these dwellings should be inspected twice a year for life safety not just 10 percent. Remember when Flagler county started theses inspections over 90 percent failed. But these vacation rentals been operating for years prior. Why where they allowed to conduct operations? These owners where not in compliance with the Florida Fire safety codes and most where not paying the required taxes in addition to not carry the proper liability insurance.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    Our Tallahassee lawmakers need to make stiffer penalties and stricter enforcement for litter violators like Arizona and other state have: “Class A misdemeanor. Fine up to $500 (§534.040). First conviction of intentional littering: fine between $500 and $1,000, and eight hours community service in a litter abatement program. Second conviction: fine between $1,000 and $2,500, and 24 hours community service”. Littering can be reported at Don’t Trash AZ’s website [link: ] or by calling the litter hotline toll free at 1 (877) 354-8837.
    In Arizona, throwing a cigarette butt out of a car window while driving on the freeway can nab litterers a class 1 misdemeanor and a $500 fine. According to A.R.S. 13-1603, all littering that happens without being within 50 feet of a highway (or beach, for that matter) makes for a class 2 misdemeanor.Jul 15, 2017.
    Litter allover Florida worsened in the last couple of years and need to be resolved by addressing the violators first as a deterrent by hitting their pockets and when needed also jail. Our code and law enforcement officers need to be given the authority to give a fine on the spot to litterers and also make it easy for the public to report violators like AZ does.

  5. Just the facts says:

    It is just for show. They will do whatever lobbysts pay them to do, as they always have.

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