All five members of council took a trip to Tallahassee February 2 and 3 to attend the League of Cities Legislative Action Days event that aims to inform leaders of municipalities of legislation that will affect the way the govern their citizens.
“I visited with 65 legislators and talked about Clam Bayou and vets, and really connected with the legislators,” Councilmember Christine Brown said.
Along with Brown, all members of council spoke to legislators one-on-one about issues close to them.
“It’s all about what we all went there to do: home rule,” Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman said.
This year’s session brought up issues such as home rule – municipalities’ ability to create rules and ordinances – which is a constitutional right for municipalities in Florida. The League of Cities monitors these legislative actions and informs and recommends supporting or opposing the bills. The League is currently tracking nearly 600 bills.
“I learned a lot,” Brown said. “It was very informative.”
One bill that the League is monitoring regarding home rule will disallow municipalities to hold elections in March, and require them to hold elections in November. Representative Kathleen Peters as well as the League oppose this bill.
Other priority issues for the League include public records, vacation rentals and transportation funding. According to information provided by floridaleagueofcities.com, Senator Jeff Brandes is in support of a bill that provides opportunities for increased and alternative revenue sources for municipal transportation infrastructure projects.
It’s been about seven years since an entire Gulfport Council made the trip together to Tallahassee, according to Mayor Sam Henderson.
“I know everybody has different approaches and different ideas … that’s why it’s not one person running this city; it’s five,” Henderson said.
Henderson added that he will be sending a letter supporting five of the house and senate bills, while opposing five of them.
“I picked some of the bigger ones, mostly related to home rule,” Henderson said, passing around copies of his letter to council.
“It was fabulous,” Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman said about her experience. “I schooled everybody and told everybody about Clam Bayou.”