MANATEE -- Local officials Wednesday asked state lawmakers to support continued independence for Port Manatee, help to restore their ability to regulate vacation rentals, and to craft a regional solution to traffic woes along busy University Parkway.
Two Manatee legislators, state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and state Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, immediately pledged to try to keep Port Manatee independent and to oppose any effort at consolidation with its bigger neighbor, the Port of Tampa.
"We understand there is some movement afoot to undermine the independence of Port Manatee," said Larry Bustle, chairman of the Manatee County Commission.
"We are uninterested in losing autonomy and control over what will surely be an economic engine for our county" for generations to come, he told the legislative panel.
Anna Maria Island officials asked the five-member legislative delegation for a legal fix to restore their ability to regulate vacation rentals.
Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen told the panel that in cities all over Florida, the rights of homeowners in their neighborhoods are being destroyed.
She said a clause in a 2011 law had removed local control of vacation rentals to the detriment of residents.
Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, suggested a study might be the way to solve serious traffic congestion along University Parkway, and the panel OK'd a motion to contact the Florida Department of Transportation about such a course of action.
The delegation, which met at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, includes Joyner; Galvano; Boyd; Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton; and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.
Lawmakers met to take testimony about what local issues they might address during the upcoming Florida Legislature session next spring.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter.