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Lawson touts $18M in House budget for local projects

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) speaks at a check presentation ceremony in Gadsden County on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Valerie Crowder
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) speaks at a check presentation ceremony in Gadsden County on Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Congressman Al Lawson says he helped secure more than $18 million for local projects in a massive spending package that the U.S. House passed this week without Republican support.

Gadsden and Leon Counties would get most of the funding — more than $14 million — for local projects.

The House passed a roughly $563 billion spending package on Wednesday without a single Republican voting for it. The Senate hasn't yet passed an appropriations package for next year.

Under the House's plan, Gadsden, Leon and Madison Counties would get funding for the following projects:

  • The town of Gretna would receive $4 million for a new sewer transmission system to support commercial development.
  • The town of Midway would get nearly $4 million for a septic-to-sewer conversion project that would reduce contamination to Wakulla Springs from about 128 homes.
  • The county would get $1.2 million to build a teen multipurpose center.
  • Second Harvest of the Big Bend, a Leon County-based nonprofit that provides meals to low-income residents, would get $3 million to build a new 20,000-square-foot warehouse facility.
  • Leon County would get $1.6 million to replace the Veterans Memorial Drive bridge, last constructed in 1955. The bridge is along a hurricane evacuation route and its failure would create an 18-mile detour.
  • Tallahassee Community College would get $500,000 to expand its truck-driving program, which trains students to get a Commercial Driver's License.
  • Madison County would get $110,000 for emergency repairs to nearly 80-year-old wastewater infrastructure beneath Range Avenue.

Lawson also secured nearly $4 million for Duval County. That includes $3.4 million to help the city of Jacksonville finish transition all homes from septic tanks to the city's sewer system. It also includes $750,000 to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety from Myrtle Avenue to Main Street in Jacksonville.

Lawson, who's seeking reelection in the newly-drawn District 2, is campaigning largely on his ability to secure federal dollars for local community projects in his current District 5.

Lawson isn't facing a primary challenger and will run against Republican Congressman Neal Dunn in November.

Florida's new congressional map places Lawson, who resides in Tallahassee, in District 2. It eliminates Lawson's current District 5 — which stretches from Gadsden County to eastern Duval County. The new District 2 covers 14 whole counties, including all of Leon, Gadsden and Madison Counties.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.