Legislative Session 2014: Issues of Interest

Coast to Coast Bike Trail

The Coast to Coast connector, a bike trail stretching 275 miles from St. Petersburg on Florida’s Gulf coast to Canaveral National Seashore on the Atlantic Coast, may become a reality this legislative session. While Governor Scott vetoed the funding for this project last year, he has made public comments supporting efforts to fill in the gaps in the trail, much of which is already built.

Funding for Spring Restoration and Protection

On January 21st, Governor Rick Scott called on Florida’s Legislature to spend $55 million to help restore and protect Florida’s springs, recommending $25 million in funding for water quantity and quality protection and restoration projects.  Over in the Senate, consideration for $380 million for springs protection is in the works, which would include funds  to remove or improve septic tanks to protect springs, create best practices for agriculture, develop uniform rules for residential fertilizers and create a new entity – the Acquisition & Restoration Council – to review funding applications.

Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority

After the Authority approved the hiring of former Representative Steve Precourt (R-Orlando) as the new executive director following a contiguous debate and split vote, State Attorney Jeff Ashton sent a letter to the Board suggesting that the appointment be postponed.  The State Attorney’s office is currently conducting an investigation into the events leading to the resignation of the previous director and Ashton stated the results of this investigation could add relevant information.   The Board subsequently recommended a month to month employment contract, an offer which was rejected by Precourt.  During a subsequent meeting, the Board voted to suspend the appointment of a director for two months.

Common Core

In 2010, the State Board of Education approved the national Common Core State Standards for K-12. These standards have been, and remain, controversial.  New Education Commissioner Pamela Stewart has been working to revise the Common Core requirements to make them more compatible with Florida’s education system.  During a public meeting of the Board on February 18th, there were over three hours of public testimony before the members voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of Commissioner Stewart.  Ninety-eight changes to the previously adopted standards were authorized.


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