The 2014 Legislative Session was productive and meaningful for the State of Florida. Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) was an active part in passing many bills that will help the hardworking communities of North Florida. He maintained strong advocacy for the needs of his 11 counties: Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla.
When asked about the 2014 Session Senator Montford said, “The country can easily look to Florida as an example of how common-sense and principled answers can be found on both sides of the aisle and quite frankly in the middle of the aisle. We have and will continue to work together, Senate and House, Democrat and Republican to do what is best for Florida.”
In the 2014 Session, Montford helped shape the following legislative decisions:
Springs Protection: Montford co-sponsored legislation with four other senators in a bipartisan effort that became known as the “Springs Bill,” which addressed the many water issues that the state is facing. While the bill passed the Senate, it did not make it out of the House. “We started very important and dire conversations about the state of our invaluable and irreplaceable springs in Florida and we have every intention of continuing them next year,” he said.
Maintaining the Florida Retirement System and state employee health insurance: Montford is well-known in the Senate as an advocate and voice for state workers and as such he helped to maintain the current, sturdy Florida Retirement System that faced many challenges throughout the 2014 session. He was also instrumental in defending the well-managed health insurance policies for state workers.
Preservation of the Instructional Materials Process: Montford was pivotal in the preservation of the statewide instructional materials process, which will not only maintain cost savings for local school districts but also give parents more opportunity for input in their child’s learning materials.
Effective timeline for school accountability: As a longtime educator, Montford advocated for a realistic timeline to ensure the proper implementation of the many facets in the Public School Accountability program including technology and testing.
Local pharmacy choice: Communities will now be able to choose their local pharmacies or mail-order when ordering prescriptions on the State Group Insurance PPO (Preferred Provider Organization).
Tax cuts: The Florida Legislature came together this year to offer many hardworking Floridians much-needed tax cuts totaling $500 million. It included reduced annual motor vehicle license renewal registration fee, which alone will save drivers between $20 and $25 each.
Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC): The Legislature passed legislation to help cities in RACEC communities avert the cost of removing or relocating utility lines on the State Highway System in certain circumstances, by allowing FDOT to pay for such costs. In addition, the legislation will allow municipalities within a RACEC or a RACEC community to compete for project funding using Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) criteria.
Flood Insurance Legislation: Legislation was also passed to establish a private flood insurance market in Florida, which will hopefully lower flood insurance rates for Florida citizens. The proposal is aimed at addressing the federal flood insurance crisis caused by the rising rates being imposed by the National Flood Insurance Program.
Budget Items: In recognition of the importance of acting this year on Florida’s springs, the legislature funded $25 million for spring’s restoration plus another $1.7 million for springs monitoring.
The legislature recognized the importance of improved learning environments for children and funded $14 million for public school construction in Montford’s district.
The Senate and the House agreed on $6,937.23 per student, public school funding, which is $176 more per student than last year, and totals $18.9 billion towards public schools.
What got funded
Sen. Bill Montford worked to ensure Franklin County was awarded the following allocations. All line items are subject to the governor’s veto.
Apalachicola Bay oyster processor facilities upgrades $768,060
Chapman School Building $497,000
Fort Coombs Armory rehabilitation $350,000
Vrooman Park $50,000
Carrabelle Old City Hall - Phase II historical rehab. $50,000
Chapman Auditorium reroofing $50,000
Apalachicola Center for History, Culture & Art $25,000
Franklin's Promise Coalition. - Weems Arts In Medicine $25,000
Dixie Theatre Foundation, Inc. $16,950
TOTAL $1.83 million
FDOT road projects
Apalachicola Regional Airport stormwater and drainage $2.4 million
SR 30 (US 98) Ave. E from west of CR 384 (12th St.) to Apalachicola Bridge $833,096
Apalachicola Regional Airport rehab runway 18/36 Phase II $265,147
Carrabelle-Thompson Airport extend runway 5/23 $181,818
Crooms Inc. Transit Section 5311 Non-urbanized Area $131,628
SR 300 Island Drive from SR 30 (US 98) to St. George Island Bridge $75,441
TOTAL: $3.89 million
GRAND TOTAL: $5.72 million