PORT ST. LUCIE — In past years, creating more affordable housing and protecting the Indian River Lagoon have been priorities for Treasure Coast lawmakers. Those two issues will continue at the top of local leaders’ wish lists for the 2023 legislative session, which begins March 7.
Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee county commissioners gathered Wednesday at Indian River State College’s Pruitt Campus here with members of the Treasure Coast legislative delegation — state Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart; and state Reps. Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City, and Dana Trabulsy, R-Fort Pierce; to discuss the region’s most pressing issues and which ones to tackle in Tallahassee.
“The list is never-ending as we continue to grow rapidly,” Trabulsy said. “We have a robust budget this year, but we will be fighting for our dollars here on the Treasure Coast.”
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At the top of their list: Strongly opposing any bills that preempt local governments’ home-rule authority, meaning their ability to take action on local issues over state powers.
The delegation also agreed to oppose any unfunded mandates — proposals that would leave counties and cities responsible for services or programs without the state providing funding.
Here are other issues Treasure Coast elected officials their state representatives to prioritize this year:
- Legally defining 911 operators as first responders so they can receive first-responder retirement benefits, aimed to boost retention and recruitment.
- Fully funding the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s beach and inlet management projects to help pay for beach renourishments efforts such as the Fort Pierce shore-protection project, South County Beach project and the Fort Pierce Inlet management plan.
- Securing $1 million for planning and design of a new District 19 medicspanl exspanminer fspancility.
Local officials Wednesday also emphasized the need for workforce training and strategies that go beyond putting more money into the state Sspandowski Fund to create affordable housing.
“I have employees couch-surfing. There are people not applying for jobs in our communities because they can’t find housing,” Indian River County Commission Vice Chair Susan Adams said. “I want to leave knowing we are going to do something, and not just continue to talk about it … Let’s stop with lip service and start with deliverables.”