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Rep. Rodrigues provides report to Council

August 20, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Florida Rep. Ray Rodrigues has been visiting municipalities in Dist. 76 to offer services and give brief summaries of past state sessions. He spoke to Town officials at the Fort Myers Beach Town Council meeting on Monday evening.

Rodriguez was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012. He belongs to five committees within the House and is vice chair of the Higher Education & Workforce Subcomittee.

"I am very pleased with the work of the Fort Myers Beach City Council," he said. "You are very active during the legislative session. I can tell you it goes a long way."

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FMB Councilwomen Rexann Hosafros and Summer Stockton were heralded for the completion of a Florida League of Cities three-day course in Delray Beach. They received certificates at the Council meeting Monday evening.

The Estero resident applauded Town officials on their efforts for traveling up to the state capitol and for attending a recent Congressional briefing in the nation's capital. Councilman Alan Mandel was a key member of the Town during those trips.

"For the ones who made the trip, those of us that were up there know that," Rodrigues said. "It carries a great deal of weight when someone comes up from here to advocate."

The House of Representatives and Senate legislative branches were involved in a special session in Tallahassee from Aug. 7 until Aug. 15 for the sole purpose of passing a U.S. Congressional map. The regular 2014 legislative session was completed earlier in the year.

Rodrigues pointed out that only 15 percent of approximately 1,800 proposed bills were passed in the last regular session.

"We had the fewest number of bills passed in the 2014 session, going back 15 years," he said. "I am pleased to say we passed a balanced budget. We filled a constitutional responsibility by doing that."

Other actions include decreasing state debt, trading three sales tax holidays and approving a taxpayer rebate.

"There were $5 million in taxbacks that will primarily focus on vehicle registration fees and tag fees that had been increased back in 2009," Rodriguez said. "We are able to give that money back to the taxpayers."

The House also passed a GI bill to make it the most "veteran-friendly state in the country" and passed other legislation to make Florida very uncomfortable for sexual offenders.

"We passed a bill to help our veterans fight unemployment and also with tuition to go back to school in a state college or university," Rodriguez said. "We cracked down on sexual offenders in the state by passing legislation by mandating mandatory sentences because we want this to be the worst place in the country."

Water project funding saw a significant increase as well as Everglades restoration projects, says Rodrigues.

"We were very fortunate that Sen. (Joe) Negron was chair of the appropriations committee and made that one of his priorities," he said. "They had a lot of muscle in the budgetary process, and Sen. Negron was not afraid to use that."

While water quality may not be as much of a high ranking news topic as it was last year, Rodrigues stated the issue is still being tracked as important.

"Water quality, even though it is not in the news like it was last year at this time because we are not getting the rains like we did, is still very much on the radar with our legislator leaders in Tallahassee," he said.



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