VERO BEACH – Three members of the Vero Beach City Council along with key staff will be in Tallahassee this week to lobby state representatives who are currently in their legislative session.
Scheduled to attend the round-robin meetings are Mayor Kevin Sawnick, Vice Mayor Sabe Abell and Councilman Ken Daige, along with City Manager Jim Gabbard and City Attorney Charlie Vitunac. The key legislation they want to talk about is Rep. Debbie Mayfield’s bill to place the Vero Beach Utility under the authority of the Public Service Commission.
The Vero Beach contingent is taking part in the Florida League of Cities Legislative Action Day and are scheduled to meet with state representatives Ralph Poppell, and senators Joe Negron and Mike Haridopolos. During the Indian River County Legislative Delegation meeting earlier this year, Negron and Haridopolos indicated support for the Mayfield bill, while Poppell voiced opposition.
Vice Mayor Abell said he expects the council members to be busy Wednesday when the bulk of the meetings are slated to take place. They plan to start at 7 a.m. with a breakfast with the participating members of the Florida League of Cities, during which organizers will address the issues they believe will have an impact — for good or for bad — on Florida cities both large and small.
After the breakfast, the individual municipalities’ representatives will meet with their respective legislators. In between meetings, they will also have the opportunity to attend various committee meetings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“The day is pretty full,” Abell said.
Abell said he expects the topic of Mayfield’s proposed utilities legislation, which the city is against, to be a hot topic.
“We’re not in favor of it,” Abell said. “But, if it happens, it happens.”
Abell said that even if the council were able to meet with Rep. Mayfield, he would expect them to discuss other issues with her rather than her legislation.
“We’re not going to convince her to change her mind,” he said.
Also, the legislators’ time is limited, Abell added, explaining that because they are currently in session, they have many meetings to attend. Most of the meetings are scheduled for about 15 minutes.
“You don’t get much time” to talk with them, he said, so the council is expected to prioritize the issues they wish to address with the legislators.
Daige said because of the short time available, being ready is key at these meetings.
“You have to be prepared when you get in from of them,” he said. “You have to be ready to go and know what you are to talk about when it is your appointment time.”
Among the other topics likely to come up are red-light cameras at traffic intersections, the local preference ordinance and pension reform.
Online Editor Debbie Carson contributed to this report.