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Date of Issue: December 31, 2008

Renourishment on legislative agenda

The 2009 legislative platform adopted by the Manatee County Board of Commissioners called on the state to institute a policy to include sand sources as “critical state resources.”

The county’s platform, which has had endorsement from Island officials, states, “Florida statutes should be amended to include offshore beach compatible sand as critical state resources. In particular this would eliminate concerns — present and future – of permitting of activities that would impact our beach renourishment resources.”

Some renourishment is expected to take place on Anna Maria Island as early as 2009 and a large-scale renourishment project is scheduled for 2012-2013.

Earlier this year, county commissioners, working with congressional representatives and Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key officials, successfully challenged a proposed natural gas pipeline route that would have made a likely sand source off limits for renourishment.

Port Dolphin Energy is now preparing plans for an alternative route for the pipeline, part of a $1 billion project that involves a floating port about 28 miles off Anna Maria Island and a pipeline that would cross the bottom of Tampa Bay and reach the mainland at Port Manatee.

The county’s legislative platform also endorsed “continuation of a dedicated state funding source for beach renourishment at or above statutory levels.”

Additionally, the platform calls for:

  • Full funding for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Child Protective Services program.
  • Development of a statewide funding system for school district workforce education programs.
  • Passage of legislation that would allow cities and counties to use automated traffic enforcement at intersections on state roads.
  • Flexibility for local jurisdictions in the use of gas-tax revenues.
  • Establishing a TRIM notice that is streamlined and easier for the taxpayer to understand and includes disclosure of maximum millage calculation instead of “roll-back” millage.

The county commission also went on record opposing legislation that limits local regulation or enforcement of illegal fireworks and legislation that preempts local authority on the use of fertilizers.

A special session of the Legislature will take place Jan. 5-Jan. 16 to deal with an estimated $2 billion-plus shortfall in the current fiscal budget.

The regular 2009 legislative session begins March 3 in Tallahassee. Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom, in a letter to representatives, said the state’s economic recovery must be top priority in the spring.

“During these challenging times, our focus for the 2009 Session must be on Florida’s economic recovery, the adoption of a responsible balanced budget, and the streamlining of the overly demanding regulatory system. The challenges we face are complex, and we should strive to capitalize on the opportunities for improvement to our economy presented by the financial challenges we are experiencing,” Sansom wrote.

A Manatee Chamber of Commerce roundtable luncheon to discuss the 2009 legislative session will take place at 11 a.m. Jan. 29 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Bradenton.

Local elected officials, including state Reps. Keith Fitzgerald, Bill Galvano, Darryl Rouson and Ron Reagan, and state Sens. Mike Bennett, Nancy Detert and Arthenia Joyner, were invited to speak.