County Commission approves 2021 legislative agenda

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Posted February 19, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette 

Commissioner Michelle Stone, left, sits socially distanced from other Commissioners during a Marion County Commission in October. This commission recently approved its 2021 legislative agenda.  [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners approved its legislative agenda, the county’s wish list for the year, during Tuesday’s meeting.

The purpose of the legislative agenda is to officially let state and federal lawmakers know local priorities. Lawmakers are not bound by the agenda but take it into account when in session.

The 14-page document was included as an item in the meeting’s consent agenda, and the county stated that its priorities were “economic development, environmental restoration, and support of appropriations toward multiple various county programs to include transportation, housing and urban development, as well as health and human services, to name a few.”

Among the items listed in the document, the county supported appropriations for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act to deal with Marion County’s ongoing opioid crisis. The county had 139 opioid deaths from January through August in 2020 compared to 69 during that same span in 2019.

The county is also supporting the remediation and restoration of Silver Springs. According to the agenda, Marion County is looking for federal funding for “springs restoration, research, trail connectivity, environmental remediation and cleanup, among other things.” The county stated that improvements are “vital,” citing the effect Florida’s large population has had on nutrient load in the springs and the large number of beneficiaries that come out of restoring the springs.

Commissioners also declared support for the creation of a veterans’ nursing home in the county, permanent re-authorization of the Rural Schools program, improvements to the national flood insurance program, efforts to provide quality healthcare to all patients and prevent health insurance companies from pushing more costs onto patients and federal programs that improve county services.

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