Mote, Road Access on Galvano's Priorities List

Government

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY FEB 4, 2019

State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, spends much of his time in Tallahassee these days as president of the Florida Senate. But the needs of his constituents back home continue to drive his actions in the state capitol, he says in an exclusive with SRQ Media Group.

“One of the challenges of political life both at the state level and at the federal level is the higher you rise in leadership, the more demand is on you to be away from the people who got you into office in the first place,” he says. “I’m focused on doing the best by everybody in the state and to fulfill this role as it’s required. But you don’t stop being parochial.”

As the March 5 start of the 2019 Legislative Session inches closer, Southwest Florida will hold more power in Tallahassee than it has in nearly two decades. Galvano holds one of the three most important jobs in policymaking for the state government, rivaled only by state Speaker of the House Jose Oliva and Governor Ron DeSantis. At an Associated Press briefing last week, Galvano fielded questions from the capitol press corps about school safety, gay rights, medical marijuana and a host of broad topics.

But Galvano also took a moment to lay out plans for a highway corridor stretching from Polk to Collier counties, something that would dramatically change transportation in Southwest Florida, including Sarasota and Manatee. Hours later, he spoke with SRQ about that roadway ending an exodus from rural parts of the region, while acknowledging some will see a traffic corridor as a threat to their lifestyle.

“That way of life is already leaving,” he says. “With the citrus industry and the dire condition that it is in, you are ending up with areas where there is a dearth of new population growth.”

Another focus Galvano has this year, like every politician from the region, remains red tide. Galvano plans to work with state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, on establishing the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, and he wants it based at Mote Marine Laboratory. As chairman of the Bay Area Legislative Delegation in addition to his Senate presidency, Galvano hopes to rally lawmakers from both parties and from eight counties to that cause.

It goes to show whether he's at home often or not, the area's priorities remain his own.

“When you have people from your region who are in leadership,” Galvano says, "It doesn’t guarantee things because it’s a process involving 160 members. But you know it does create more of an opportunity for access and for advocacy.”

 

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Senate President Bill Galvano prepares in his office for the Legislative Session.

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