Keys contingent speak with state leaders

Keys contingent speak with state leaders

Locals hear two Keys-specific bills introduced at the Capitol

More than 75 ambassadors from Monroe County invaded Tallahassee this week for “Florida Keys Day” at the state capital. The one-day session, which began in 2009 under the direction of State Representative Holly Raschein, has provided a vital platform for local delegates to interact with some of the state’s top officials—while lobbying for support on an array of issues such as environmental, economic and education items.

Wednesday marked the eighth opportunity for Monroe County officials and leaders to embark on Florida Keys Day, which Rep. Raschein originally conceived while serving as a legislative aide before being elected to the State House of Representatives in 2012. The day not only provides a symbolic voice of unity from representatives throughout the Keys, it also grants attendees the unique opportunity to meet with key decision makers throughout the capital building.

“I think Wednesday was the most successful Florida Keys Day on record,” said Raschein. “Particularly when you consider the community turnout and the agenda we had in place. When you look at the folks we met with and advocated with—there is just no substitute for our local community learning from and offering input with so many different agencies.”

On Tuesday evening, Florida Keys delegates were treated to a private reception with Raschein. And Wednesday’s engagements with state leaders allowed participants to engage with figures such as Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senator Anitere Flores and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

But one of the Wednesday’s most exciting moments occurred on the House Floor when Florida Keys Community College President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, accompanied by more than 20 FKCC students and staff, witnessed government in action. The local contingent saw Raschein move forward House Bill 341, which will pave the way for additional dorms at the college.

Also, Senator Flores presented Raschein’s “Florida Keys Stewardship Act” to the Senate floor. The historic bill was originally sponsored by Rep. Raschein in the House and potentially serves as one of the most significant steps to preserve and protect Monroe County’s water quality and wastewater infrastructure. And while a vote on the bill was postponed in the State Senate, the measure was another step forward for the Florida Keys.

“In terms of the process, timing and relationships — all of those were in play on Wednesday,” said Raschein. “We had the Stewardship Act being proposed on the Senate floor and the college bill in the House, so the timing couldn’t have been better.”

Of course, any Florida Keys themed event isn’t complete without a reception, which Raschein and her staff pulled off with perfection. Following Wednesdays’ session, a Keys-styled social outside of the capital building came fully equipped with frozen Key lime pie on a stick, rum punch and tasty portions of conch chowder.

“Everyone’s favorite happy hour, every year, is the Florida Keys Day reception in the courtyard,” said Raschein. “It was a smashing success and I’ve gotten nothing but amazing feedback from my colleagues and staff alike”

 

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