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Local lawmakers hold hearing

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By Alice Du Pont

Gadsden County’s legislative delegation, Rep. Alan Williams and Sen. Bill Montford, held a public hearing Feb. 18 to discuss issues that may affect the county in the upcoming session, which begins March 5.

By law, legislators are required to hold a public hearing prior to the opening of each session.

Doug Croley, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, listed the 2013 legislative priorities for the county. The legislative issues were the result of those expressed by local governments and county interests.

“The members of the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners acknowledge the outstanding support that our community has received from the state of Florida. The Gadsden County Legislative Delegation has been very effective in conveying the challenges faced in Gadsden County throughout the legislative process. We have faith in and support for our delegates as we move forward into the 2013 Legislative Session. The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners is appreciative of all of the support and pledge our best effort to stand with the Gadsden County Legislative Delegation as the Florida Legislature deals with the problems posed by the current economic conditions,” Croley said in his opening statement.

The major legislative objectives Croley listed were:

* Oppose privatization of Florida State Hospital

* Provide funding in high priority need areas such as transportation, parks, infrastructure, public safety and health care.

* Ensure effective economic development efforts; stimulate employment growth and target actions to protect against job losses to economic instability.
* Oppose proposals that shift cost from state to local level and oppose actions that increase local costs.
* Identify and eliminate, waive, delay or mitigate requirements, regulations, mandated criteria, reports, studies or other requirements not critical to operations or have unintended consequences and result in increased local spending.
* Ensure meaningful local involvement in state and regional activities and decisions.
Both Williams and Montford agreed the requests were reasonable and promised to continue representing the county and its needs to the best of their abilities.

Dr. Joy Anderson, executive director of the Gadsden County Health Start Coalition, told the delegation because of their help, nearly 1,100 women and babies received in excess of 19,000 services.

“As a result of local and statewide efforts, the infant mortality rate has decreased by 28 percent since the inception of the Health Start initiative. The most recent date released in May 2012 indicates that Florida’s rate continues to drop and is now 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Thanks to your support and our commitment to be good stewards of the dollars allocated to our programs the Healthy Start initiative has been thriving for over 20 years,” she said.

Williams said he knows of the work Health Start has done in Gadsden and urged her and the coalition to continue.

Williams reminded the audience that due to reapportionment, Representatives Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda and Marti Coley no longer represent Gadsden County. However, he said he had been assured both still have the welfare of Gadsden County in their thoughts.