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Local Delegation Hearing Highlights Neighborhood And Statewide Concerns

State lawmakers from the Big Bend region gathered to hear the concerns of local constituents this week.
Steven Adams via Flickr

Local state lawmakers gathered in Tallahassee this week to hear concerns from constituents.

Politics, some say, is a dirty business.  Most probably have no idea just how right they are.

“The Leon Soil and Water Conservation District would like to discuss a path towards getting the residents of that neighborhood hooked up to that sewer system,” district spokesman Brian Lee says.

This is the fodder of state government.  Entirely necessary, entirely unexciting projects that could have a major impact in their communities.  Lee’s focusing on a project in the Oak Ridge neighborhood just south of Tallahassee.  Lee explains the county extended a sewer line into the area when Oak Ridge Elementary was built.  He wants state lawmakers to help residents get connected rather than continue relying on septic systems. 

Kelly Otte, executive director with the PACE center for girls in Leon County, has local requests but she has broader ones, too.  PACE runs about 20 centers across the state working with young at-risk women. They provide social services to help keep them in school.  At the top of PACE’s list for the coming session is what’s known as expungement legislation.

“Juvenile records are hurting our girls later on,” Otte says.  “You have girls that make mistakes when they’re very young and they’re haunted by them for years later and we need to have an opportunity for girls to be able to really transition—all children—to be able to transition into a new chapter in their lives.

PACE also wants to see an expansion of the state’s civil citation program, so kids aren’t dragged into the criminal justice system.  These changes could have long-lasting statewide impacts, but a bit closer to home, PACE Leon is running out of room.  Otte says they currently serve about 60 girls but they’re allowed to serve 75—they just don’t have the space.  

Moving into next year’s session in January, local leaders will cross their fingers the delegation has a bit more success.  Very few local appropriations made it through the Legislature and even fewer were spared the veto pen.