The 2020 State Legislative Session is set to begin in Tallahassee on January 14th, 2020. In preparation for the annual 60-day law making session, the St. Pete Chamber Legislative Committee has been working to formulate priorities to support as part of our Advocacy Program.
These priorities will be front and center at the Legislative Preview Luncheon, presented by Spectrum, on December 19th from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the Staybridge Suites St. Petersburg Downtown featuring State Senators Jeff Brandes and Darryl Rouson and State Representatives Nick DiCeglie, Ben Diamond, Wengay Newton, and Jennifer Webb.
This past summer, the Chamber asked members to provide their legislative priorities for consideration by the Legislative Committee. Those suggestions joined perennial priorities for vetting and prioritization. The committee, in consultation with the Public Policy Council and Chamber Board, decided to focus our priorities on: Funding for USF- St. Petersburg, Funding for the Arts including the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Funding for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center Incubator, Funding for TBARTA, and Funding for Mental Health Initiatives in Pinellas County.
USF St. Petersburg:
As the USF system enters into consolidation, it is important the USFSP branch campus receive the funding necessary to grow its research capabilities in order to be eligible for grant opportunities that only the Tampa campus can currently service. Our legislature has promised consolidation will not be detrimental to USFSP and this funding will be a major step in ensuring that commitment is realized.
Arts and Carter G. Woodson African American Museum:
St. Pete is known as an arts destination and our local museums depend on grants to host nationally recognized exhibits and programs. Additionally, the Carter G. Woodson museum is in need of renovations in order to meet the standards required to host national exhibits from museums such as the Smithsonian.
Tampa Bay Innovation Center Incubator:
The Federal Government has granted $4.5 million to help fund the construction of a business incubator in St. Pete’s Innovation District. Along with local dollars from Pinellas County, the project needs $2 million from the State of Florida to be realized. This important center will provide entrepreneurs with the facilities necessary to realize their potential.
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) received full funding for operations for the first time during the 2019 session and has embarked on an ambitious plan that would connect Wesley Chapel to Tampa to Downtown St. Pete via a regional rapid transit service. Also, TBARTA received funding to study the potential for hyperloop to operate in the region.
Mental Health Initiatives:
Mental health is a major concern in our state, especially in Pinellas County. An increase in Marchman Beds, services for mental health patients, and programs to address substance abuse will not only improve the quality of life for all our citizens but will improve the attractiveness of our region to businesses considering relocation to the greater St. Petersburg area.
Legislative Preview Luncheon:
Learn more about these initiatives as well as the priorities of our local Legislators at the Chamber’s Legislative Preview Lunch, presented by Spectrum, on Thursday, December 19th at 11:30 AM at the Staybridge Suites in Downtown St. Pete. There will be opportunities for questions from the audience.
St. Pete Day in Tallahassee:
The Chamber invites you to join us as we advocate for these priorities in Tallahassee on February 19th and 20th. Travel to the State Capitol with other community leaders, meet with legislative leaders and cabinet members, and witness the lawmaking process in person. Contact Matt Lettelleir at email@example.com for more information.