Local lawmakers and citizens share ideas for the ‘24 Florida Session at Duval Delegation meeting

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State lawmakers representing Duval County heard directly from their constituents hoping to gather ideas to bring to Tallahassee ahead of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session Thursday.


Roughly 100 people representing local government, organizations or even just themselves showed up to make their voices heard.

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Duval County School Board Member Cindy Pearson asked lawmakers to consider repealing a state law pushing back middle and high school start times and asked them to push for universal full-time Pre-K.

“If you feel like the price tag is too high, Duval County Public Schools would be happy to pilot this,” Pearson said.

A representative from the mayor’s office highlighted funding requests for projects at the shipyards and the Riverside Front Plaza.

Outgoing Duval Delegation Chair State Representative Wyman Duggan (R-Jacksonville) suggested many of the local budget request will revolve around parks, but he tamped down any expectations of state dollars coming in for a new Jags stadium.

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“There’s been a clear kind of policy preference from the legislature for at least five years that I’ve been there to not provide state level funding for any type of sports-related stadium,” Duggan said.

Duggan did note more money for the proposed downtown UF campus could be coming.

He’s personally hoping to secure money to help develop Cecil Field into a major space hub.

“I think there’s even more potential opportunity around commercial space activities, not launches, but mostly post-launch maintenance repair, overhaul, payload processing,” Duggan said.

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Duggan and Delegation Chair State Representative Dean Black (R-Yulee) both indicated there’s more on the horizon for property insurance reform as well.

“We’ve done a lot of work there. We think more work needs to be done,” Black said.

“It took the state many, many years to get into this hole. I would say it’s gonna take us a little while to get out of the hole in terms of rate relief, but at least now we have a ladder,” Duggan said.

Ahead of the meeting, a coalition of more than a dozen advocacy organizations rallied outside city hall.

“People! Power!” the group of roughly two dozen chanted.

Speakers highlighted their desire to see change on a host of issues, including a reversal on policies dealing with the teaching of LGBTQ and racial issues in the classroom.

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“Florida has the highest number of book bans of any state. Over 1,400 books currently banned. That’s 40 percent of our nation’s total,” Alexander Watkins with Families for Strong Public Schools said.

The organizations also called for lawmakers to address housing affordability, Medicaid expansion and urged them to make it easier for Floridians with felony convictions to vote after serving their sentence.

“Over 1.5 million do not have their right to vote because of SB 7066. The poll tax,” Rosemary McCoy, a local activist who has advocated in favor of felons’ voting rights, said.

Inside, the advocates brought their ideas directly to their local lawmakers, including their desire to see the passage of gun safety legislation.

“We know secure storage saves lives and prevents unintentional shootings, gun suicides, gun theft,” Katie Hathaway with Moms Demand Action said.

Many of those proposals will face an uphill battle with Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate, but Black told Action News Jax, the delegation meetings often do lead actual legislation.

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“This may be my very favorite meeting, because it embodies the right of the people to come and petition their government directly and it’s what makes this nation great,” Black said.

Next week Florida lawmakers will meet for a special session where they’ll start tackling some aspects of the property insurance issue, private school scholarship backlogs and pass policies intended to back Israel and Florida’s Jewish community.

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The 2024 session officially starts in January.

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