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Date of Issue: December 09, 2009

Island concerns top legislative agenda

Beach renourishment, offshore drilling, growth management and regulating waterways top a list of proposed legislative priorities for state lawmakers representing Manatee County.

Each December, as state representatives and senators ready for another legislative session in Tallahassee, local officials deliver lists detailing their priorities for the upcoming session.

The list of legislative priorities for Manatee County includes issues of concern on Anna Maria Island, including beach renourishment, waterway regulations and offshore drilling.

The county legislative agenda, endorsed by the county board of commissioners Dec. 1, states the following positions:

• Oppose offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some state lawmakers have proposed opening up state waters to drilling companies to raise money.

• Support the continuation of dedicated state funding four beach renourishment and legislation that protects the immunity of counties with regard to beach mitigation liability.

• Support a requirement for remote vendors — including Web retailers — to collect and remit state and local option sales taxes.

County officials previously have raised concerns that Web-based sellers of local products, including the leasing of resort accommodations, are not collecting sales tax.

• Support the continuation of the Florida Forever land-buying program to acquire land for natural resources and green spaces.

• Support legislation that would allow local governments to use automated traffic enforcement — red-light cameras — at intersections.

• Support authorizing counties to implement a local option rental car surcharge for regional and local transportation initiatives.

• Support the restoration of state aid to public libraries. Funding for fiscal year 2009 was nearly $10 million less than in 2000.

• Support expanding the charter county transportation system surtax that would give Manatee County the authority to hold a referendum on a 1 cent sales tax to finance mass transit, new roads and bridges and to issue bonds for transit.

• Support a state role in growth management that recognizes local home rule power and enables counties to develop “local solutions to local problems.”

• Support continued state funding to remove derelict vessels and legislation that provides public access to waterways and preserves.

• Support legislation that allows local governments to create a trust fund to pay for enhanced manatee protection, including local law enforcement.

The local legislative delegation will hold a meeting Dec. 15 to discuss priorities for the 2010 session, which convenes March 2.

County legislative delegation to meet

The Manatee County Legislative Delegation will hold its annual meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the Renaissance on Ninth Center, 1816 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. 

The delegation will hear discussion on proposed local bills, general presentations and constituent concerns, but will not take any budgetary requests, which have been made at past annual meetings.

“Given the continuing fiscal challenges our state is facing and our need to focus efforts on solutions to balance the state’s budget, we will not be opening the Community Budget Issue Request System this year,” Florida state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said in a statement. “With the further decline in state revenues, it is my desire to avoid creating unrealistic funding expectations.”

The delegation includes Bennett, state Reps. Ron Reagan, Bill Galvano, Keith Fitzgerald and Darryl Ervin Rouson and state Sens. Nancy C. Detert and Arthenia L. Joyner.

For more information about the meeting, contact Margaret Clark at 941-727-6349 or at clark.margaret@flsenate.gov.