Lawmakers Tout Session Accomplishments

Todays News

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Joe Gruters speaks at Tiger Bay

State lawmakers boasted about this year’s legislative successes and defended controversial legislation at a Sarasota Tiger Bay meeting on Thursday.

Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, in addition to defending online sales tax legislation as recouping $1 billion owed to the state, also fielded criticism of impact fee legislation passed this year. He predicted his bill, which caps impact fee increases at 12.5% each year, will be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I'm a believer that development should pay its own way. I live near Clark and I'm thinking to myself all these homes are built out there, they should have expanded Clark Road first,” Gruters said. But he said some counties last year raised impact fees by between 100% and 300%, which makes the cost of homebuilding impossible to control. “What we did is we created predictability in the marketplace,” Gruters said.

Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, pushed off questions about whether the Legislature help grow sports tourism. He said as far as funding. “If you find me an economist to tell me it's a good return of investment for the state to spend money on stadiums or something else, then I would say we can talk, but I think the reality is you're not going to,” he said.

But not everything discussed with Tiger Bay attendees generated controversy. Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, touted environmental spending, most notably $100 million secured to clean up the Piney Point industrial site. “For that issue to pop up, for the delegation to come together and for us to get $100 million in the budget to solve that issue was incredible work,” he said. “It took a great team effort.”

Rep. James Buchanan, R-Venice, said the Legislature passed important processes for improving wastewater facilities and dealing with sea level rise in the state. “There is no denying that we are seeing sea level rise,” Buchanan said. “We're seeing increased flooding, and we want to get out in front of this. Too often in politics, at any level, folks wait and we kick the can down the road. This was something that we wanted to get on and not wait until it's a five alarm fire.”

And Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, finished her first session most excited about work on early education and in environmental projects. “I was proud to have my hand in that,” she said. ”A lot of the work this year, it’s not sexy. It’s quiet work that we’ll see the benefits of 10 years into the future after we’re all out of office.”

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Joe Gruters speaks at Tiger Bay

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