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Strategic Economic Committee Never Met

April 15th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

The economy is considered the number one priority by voters and most state lawmakers. Both the House and Senate in Tallahassee created select committees to stimulate the economy, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the House Committee has never gotten around to meeting.

Lawmakers say the economy is a top priority, but on the house side, a sign on the door is all that exists for the select Policy Council on Strategic and Economic Planning, Theres never been a meeting.

Keith Fitzgerald had high hopes when named to the committee.

Never had a notice. Never met,” Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) said. “I think its a very big topic and would love to sit down and have a conversation.”

We asked Carlos Lopez-Cantera, one of 14 Republicans on the Committee, why its never met.

Youd have to ask the chairman that, Lopez-Cantera (R-Miami) said.

We tried, but the chairman was nowhere to be found.

In contrast, the Senate select committee on the economy has met seven times, and its held three public hearings.

In addition to meeting, the Senate Select Committee on the Economy is actually passing bills. One makes it easier to get permits, another streamlines job creation; a third creates tax credits. Chairman Don Gaetz is proud of the work.

Also, we have legislation that we birthed out of this committee, that unclogs the research phase for solar projects,” Gaetz (R-Niceville) said.

When created, the House committee was charged with taking a long range view of the states economy…something that will be hard to do with less than three weeks left in the session.

House Spokesperson Jill Chamberlain provided the following response:

“The Select Councils charge is to develop ideas, recommend proposals and evaluate legislation to address the states LONG RANGE challenges and opportunities, and to complete its work by November 2010. The states fiscal condition for this fiscal year and 09-10 is so imperiled, absent solutions to meet todays urgent needs, that the leadership its devoting its time and energy first to solving the immediate problems. There will be enough time for the Council to look at long-range possibilities between now and November, 2010. (and beyond)”.

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