For Broward, Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat who chairs the Broward delegation, has filed a bill that would allow each county to create a special taxing district to fund school resource officers and mental health services for students. The Broward delegation will also pursue a local bill that would allow only Broward County to carry out the plan.
“Bills like that typically get heard,” Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, said of the local bill.
This year, the Miami-Dade delegation compiled its list of priorities in a way that would not isolate any members. “If one member had an issue with a bill, we didn’t include it in the legislative priorities,” Gonzalez said.
That may explain why the list is so short. The priorities include requiring an inspector general to oversee the scandal-plagued Citizens Property Insurance, and extending the existing caps on Citizens’ rate hikes to new policy holders.
“We need to see a true 10 percent rate cap,” said Diaz, the vice chairman, noting that new policy holders can be hit with far larger rate increases because of a loophole in existing law.
A less flashy proposal would make it easier for Miami-Dade County to comply with new regulations for waste-water disposal. County officials have said the measure could save $1 billion over the next three to five years.
And then there are the budget items.
The delegation has cobbled together an ambitious appropriations agenda that includes funding for the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the League Against Cancer, Jackson Health System, the Miami-Dade public schools, Farm Share and the Florida International University Medical School.
Miami-Dade lawmakers also hope to win $900,000 to build a new library and museum in Hialeah Gardens honoring Brigade 2506, the band of exiles who attempted to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
But some bills have already proved divisive.
The Dolphins Stadium proposal, for example, has failed to win universal support among Miami-Dade lawmakers, even though the football team has agreed to hold a countywide referendum on the matter. The bill would enable Miami-Dade County to increase the bed tax paid by mainland hotels to help fund $400 million in renovations at Sun Life Stadium, and provide a sales-tax subsidy for the Dolphins.
Observers are split on the bill’s chances of becoming law, especially in light of public backlash against a 2009 deal that allowed public money to be spent on the new Marlins Ballpark. Moreover, the proposal has the potential to burn some of Miami-Dade’s political capital early in the session, the way the destination resort casino bill did last year.
Fresen, who is a co-sponsor on the Dolphins bill, said he isn’t worried.
“I’m confident that with our collective power in the House and Senate, we’ll be able to accomplish most of our goals,” he said.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.