State Politics

Rep. Galvano briefs county on session

BRADENTON — It was a challenging year in Tallahassee, state Rep. Bill Galvano told the Manatee County commission.

Galvano appeared before the commission Tuesday to give members a post-legislative session report, his seventh since taking office.

He reviewed the work the Legislature accomplished during the House leadership turmoil and a time of economic uncertainty.

“We met during a special session earlier this year to cut the budget,” he said. “Then during the regular session passed another lean budget.”

The Bradenton Republican said he understands the one issue that affected the work of the commission directly was controversial. The growth management bill reduces local control on some planning rules to make it easier for developers to build. Galvano voted for the bill, known as SB 360, because it promoted economic development, he said.

“This bill is not as good as the proponents think,” he said, “or as bad as the opponents think.”

The measure could be used to correct urban sprawl, and used in conjunction with another piece of approved legislation, the targeted industries bill, could bring more industry to the county, Galvano said.

Also, the development of regional impact exemption for the Port Manatee Encouragement Zone was a success for the county, Galvano said.

“This will promote flexibility at the port,” he said, “and in years to come Port Manatee will be the port of choice.”

Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she followed Galvano’s efforts in Tallahassee via the public broadcasting of the legislative sessions and was happy with the work the Legislature did on revamping the Citizen’s insurance program.

“Citizen’s is now allowed to raise rates,” Whitmore said. “They were way underfunded because of the freezing of rates a few years back.”

Galvano said the state insurance company had too much of the market share in homeowner policies.

Another legislative action Galvano was proud to have been instrumental in getting passed was the Florida KidCare program revisions.

“We got it streamlined down and it will bring dollars from the federal government,” he said. “This will have a positive economic impact for the county because it will not send people to the emergency rooms.”

The Florida KidCare program is a state health insurance program for uninsured children under 19 and covers doctor visits, check-ups and shots, hospital stays, surgery, prescriptions, emergencies, hearing, vision and dental care.