This afternoon, the Orange County State Delegation which featured 4 new members, listened to almost 3 hours of public comment from various citizens and organizations.
The Group of Lawmakers included Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando), State Senators Darren Soto (D-Orlando), Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), and Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando). State House Members included Representatives Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando), Mike Miller (R-Winter Park), Bob Cortes (R-Longwood), Eric Eisnaugle (R-Gotha), Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora), Rene “Coach P” Plasencia (R-Orlando), Bruce Antone (D-Orlando), and Tom Goodson (R-Titusville).
The meeting opened with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcoming the delegation to the County Administration building, and praising the positive relationship the group has always had with the County Commission. Other elected officials providing comment included County Tax Collector Scott Randolph who encouraged the delegation to investigate upgrading the technology associated with his office’s operation, and County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette, who urged the group of state lawmakers to review upcoming education regulations regarding student testing and teacher evaluations that will soon take effect.
There were a wide variety of organizations addressing the board that included Americans for Prosperity, Planned Parenthood, and the League of Women Voters. All giving a brief summary of what policy work their groups performed and their stances on key issues. There were also several stand alone citizens who described what actions they would like see taken in the next legislative session.
At the end of the meeting, the groups officer elections took place. Sullivan was selected as Secretary, Miller as Vice Chairperson, and Plasencia was selected by his peers to be the delegation’s Chairman.
OPO spoke to outgoing Chairman, Darren Soto about his thoughts leading the delegation and concerns he heard from constituents today, that he felt the group could make progress on next session.
“Regardless of which party was the majority in the delegation, we worked together in bi-partisan fashion and got most of the speakers to address the delegation. Certainly, dealing with the statute of limitations for rape victims was an emotional moment here today. High stakes testing was very intriguing for the committee, and in addition people want to look at medicaid expansion again and be sure that Amendment 1 is properly implemented.”
Newly elected Chairman, Plasencia said this about being selected to lead the delegation and what he thought could get immediate attention from the state legislature.
“It’s very humbling to have the support of my peers, especially when you have the Senate President, when you have someone like Representative Eisnaugle who served a number of terms already. So we have some great people on our delegation. I know the biggest concerns are related to education and healthcare, when it comes to the decisions we’ll be making in the coming months, there is going to be a lot of debate in Tallahassee about it, hopefully there will be some effective legislating so we can bring some solutions back to our citizens.”