TALLAHASSEE — Collier Commissioner Jim Coletta came to advocate for a an Interstate 75 interchange at Everglades Boulevard.
Collier Commissioner Donna Fiala came to fight for library funding.
Coletta and Fiala traveled – separately – to Tallahassee this week to participate in the Florida Association of Counties’ annual Legislative Day on Wednesday. County commissioners from around the state converged on the state Capitol for a legislative briefing, and to lobby state leaders.
“We’re up here to be able to visit with our legislators and all forms of government. … to try to make sure that they realize that the area we represent is special and unique, and for various reasons needs a certain amount of attention,” Coletta said.
The morning started with the legislative briefing, followed by information sessions on growth management, the future of the embattled Florida Department of Community Affairs, and efforts to prevent the pre-emption of local governments.
“It’s just a great opportunity for our members to learn more about these issues,” said Cragin Mosteller, a spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Counties.
Collier County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow sat between Coletta and Fiala to avoid any potential sunshine law violations. Coletta drove to Tallahassee with Klatzkow, while Fiala flew up with Debbie Wight, Collier’s legislative affairs coordinator.
Coletta had afternoon meetings slated with Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, among others. Fiala met with Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, and Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton to discuss library funding, insurance and Collier’s Transportation Disadvantaged program.
“Just given the opportunity to be able to get 10 minutes out of the governor’s schedule, the president of the Senate’s schedule, means a lot. It really does,” Coletta said. “And when I get done I’ll be making a report back to my fellow commissioners exactly what I observed.”
Collier County’s 2011 legislative priorities include property insurance reform, state-level initiatives to combat illegal immigration, permanently prohibiting off-shore drilling within Florida waters, and home-rule over the county’s impact fee program.
“It’s so easy to send an email,” Fiala said of the trip. “It’s not so easy to actually come up here and sit down, and actually talk with them and ask them questions and get answers and get their input.”