Lawmakers Tout Piney Point, Policy Wins As Session Wraps

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY MAY 3, 2021

The 60-day legislative session closed on Friday, with most lawmakers saying the Sarasota-Manatee area benefitted from work in Tallahassee. Local lawmakers played key roles in issues from insurance reform to a change in how sales tax will be collected.

“I am very proud of the work we have done on behalf of Sarasota County this legislative session,” said Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton. “The most important bill we passed is our annual budget. This balanced budget is fiscally responsible that addresses important needs for Sarasota County and all Floridians in a number of areas, including health care, public education and the environment."

And lawmakers through the region pointed to a major budget accomplishment, securing $100 million to clean up the Piney Point industrial site in Manatee County. A reservoir breach at that site forced evacuations of more than 300 homes mid-Session and the release of more than 200 million gallons of industrial wastewater into Port Manatee and Tampa Bay.

Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, praised “Gov. [Ron] DeSantis' leadership and financial commitment to resolving the decades old problems at Piney Point.” Even Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, D-St. Petersburg and the only Democrat representing the region in Tallahassee, said that nine-figure appropriation was the most significant gain for the region out of Session. Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, listed that as the top benefit to the region out of session as well.

There were policy fights. Rayner-Goolsby fought against a ban on transgender girls playing girls’ sports in school that the Republican Legislature ultimately passed.

Boyd sponsored a massive homeowners’ insurance overhaul that would be one of the last bills passed in session. It amends how attorneys’ fees are awarded and how rates are structured for Citizens Property Insurance.

Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, after three years successfully pushed through a major sales tax change, requiring online retailers to collect sales tax at point of sale. The expected $1-billion annual windfall will be used to replenish Florida’s unemployment trust and to slash commercial rent taxes by more than half.

 

Photo courtesy Florida DEP.

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