Bradenton legislator gives students a snapshot of hectic session

vmannix@bradenton.comMay 8, 2013 

BRADENTON -- None of the questions state Rep. Jim Boyd faced Tuesday morning had to do with the state's Medicaid impasse, teacher raises or ethics reform.

Rather, fifth-graders at Rogers Garden Elementary School wanted to know other things.

To wit:

• Who's his boss?

"My wife, Sandy," Boyd said, adding that House Speaker Will Weatherford is who he answers to in Tallahassee.

• Who pays him?

"You do," Boyd said, sizing up a future taxpayer.

• What if we didn't have state representatives?

"Some would say we'd probably be better off," Boyd kidded.

Back in town after the just-ended legislative session -- unless Gov. Rick Scott calls a special session -- the 56-year-old lawmaker visited with Rogers students, some of whom will be taking an overnight trip Thursday to Tallahassee.

They'll visit the state capitol as well as Florida A&M and Florida State University. The trip is being funded with help from the Hernando De Soto Historical Society, Manatee Education Foundation, the NAACP and student fundraising.

So meeting Boyd was opportune.

"Maybe this puts a face and an actual person to a thing others might look at as big government," he said. "I'm here, I do care and hopefully this will allow them to say I know I can voice my concern and someone

will take that to Tallahassee and act on what's important to me."

Principal Anne Broomes hopes so.

"They're making a connection with someone who is influential and can make changes in their lives," Broomes said.

"I learned something about how our government works," said fifth-grader Estefani Ortez.

"I want to know more," said classmate Jorge Trujillo.

Boyd, who represents District 71, gave students an overview of life the last two months the Florida Legislature was in session.

"It's 24/7," he said. "There are meetings, committees, appointments, constituent visits, functions afterward, then reading up at night at home on bills and staff analyses on issues that are going to be debated or voted on the next day. It's fast-paced and a lot of work, but it's rewarding because hopefully we're doing good things up there."

Boyd chaired the House Ethics and Election Subcommittee and helped pass legislation on election and ethics reform, insurance, manufacturing and fire marshals.

"I was elected as a Republican, but I represent everybody in my district," he said. "What I try to do is listen to what's important in our community, what people's needs are. The hard part is balancing all that because I'm also one of 120 in the Florida House who represent 19 million Floridians."

Boyd's grandfather was a legislator in the 1940s and an uncle followed him, so he's carrying on a legacy of public service.

"A politician looks from election to election; a statesman looks from generation to generation," he said. "If I say something today that encourages you to run for office, that'd be a great thing."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service