State leaders talk bills with public

State Rep. Holly Raschein and state Sen. Dwight Bullard will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss legislative priorities for Monroe County and get input from constituents.

The meeting will be held at the Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The biggest priority for Monroe County in the upcoming March session will be the passage of the Florida Keys Environmental Stewardship Act, which would tap into money from the passage of Amendment 1.

The bill sets aside about $20 million a year for the Keys conservation projects in the next 20 years. Amendment 1 is designed to generate $600 million a year across the state for land conservation, wastewater, stormwater and other water-quality projects.

Raschein, R-Key Largo, is the sponsor of the bill. She has been working with Keys leaders on the language.

Keys leaders want to use the money to buy conservation land, fund canal clean-up projects and continue work connecting homes and businesses to central sewer systems.

“The county and Key cities have a great lobbying team working on this,” Raschein said. “There is a real A-Team involved in this. The goal is to get it (the bill) in and get it in early. It’s a big ask.”

Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, plans to work on building coalition in the Senate for passage of the bill.

“It is extremely important to have this dedicated source of funding for these important projects,” Bullard said.

Raschein, who is starting her second term, serves as vice chair of the Highway and Waterway Safety Subcommittee. She is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, Regulatory Affairs Committee, and veteran and military affairs subcommittee.

Bullard, halfway through his first term, serves as vice chair of the Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Agriculture Committee, appropriations subcommittee on education, Education Pre-K-12 Committee, Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, joint Administrative Procedures Committee, and joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining.

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