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Government Affairs Trip to Tallahassee
On Tuesday February 12, a group of Chamber members from the Government Affairs Committee traveled to the State Capitol in Tallahassee to advocate for the Chamber's 2019 Policy and Legislative Priorities . Pictured above, attendees were former Clearwater City Councilman Bill Jonson, CRCC VP of Government Affairs Darryl Henderson, Government Affairs Committee co-chair Don Ewing, Brian Diehl of Pennoni Engineering, Tom Kennedy of Westport Group, and David Weber of Adviser One.

After a great lunch at Andrew's Capital Grill, we jumped right in to a full slate of meetings. Our first meeting was with House District 21 Representative Charles "Chuck" Clemons, who chairs the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, followed by a meeting with District 23 Senator Joe Gruters, who chairs the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee. Both of these meetings primarily focused on expanding funding for Tourism Marketing, as well as continuing funding for research towards mitigation, prevention, and messaging to combat the negative economic impact of Red Tide.

We then met with a couple of members of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation to close out the day - District 67 Representative Chris Latvala and District 66 Representative Nick DiCeglie. Both are tremendous supporters of CRCC's legislative priorities, and expressed their gratitude to both the Committee and the Chamber at large for our support of their advocacy on behalf of the citizens of Clearwater and Pinellas County.
On Wednesday morning, we met with Vice President David A. Hart and Robert Streater, Corporate Relations Manager for the Florida Chamber of Commerce , as well as Donna Wright, Chief Operations Officer for the Florida Chamber Foundation . We had a lengthy productive conversation regarding a wide variety of issues, and were all pleasantly surprised to learn how closely our legislative priorities matched up with those of the Florida Chamber. We renewed our commitment to work closely with the Florida Chamber on vital issues moving forward, and we were invited to and have in fact joined the Florida Chamber's Infrastructure Coalition .
Next, we met with our own District 16 Senator Ed Hooper who, among other roles, serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, as well as the Senate Committee on Infrastructure and Security.
Although there were a couple of meetings that we were not able to have - including a photo opportunity with Governor DeSantis - we did manage to have a couple of unscheduled meetings with members of our Delegation, including District 24 Senator Jeff Brandes, and House District 69 Representative Jennifer Webb. Both are staunch advocates for Regional Transit and Transportation solutions for Tampa Bay, and the key takeaway was a call to action for the CRCC to rally the stakeholders in our region behind a single plan that our 3 county legislative delegations can support with both legislation and funding.
The final meeting of our visit was with District 33 Senator Perry Thurston Jr., who is Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. As you might imagine, we were able to have substantive discussions on most of our legislative priorities, and he pledged to meet further with Senator Brandes and Representative Webb regarding our advocacy of transit and transportation solutions for Tampa Bay.
The members of the CRCC Government Affairs Committee who made the trip were all very glad that they did, and felt that is was well worth the time and effort.

"Thanks for including me on the trip to Tallahassee. It was a great opportunity to meet with all of the legislators on both sides of the aisle, as well as the Florida Chamber, to discuss ideas and the Clearwater Chamber initiatives. It was very encouraging that the Clearwater Chamber agenda lined up almost exactly with the Florida Chamber agenda, and the legislators were on board as well. As an engineer, transportation is a high priority. From what we heard, the legislature is making transportation issues in Tampa Bay a priority as well. " Brian Diehl, Pennoni Engineering

"I appreciated Don Ewing’s detailed preparation of talking points relevant to most of the legislators that we visited with. I was heartened that the Legislature seems to be focusing on the best way to solve statewide issues instead of trying to find someone to blame. Great briefing at the Florida Chamber of Commerce." Bill Jonson, former City of Clearwater Councilmember

"Thank you for inviting me to the Tallahassee / Clearwater Regional Chamber delegation event. As a new member of the Clearwater chamber I am very impressed with the political and policy support the Clearwater Chamber gives to all of its business members by visiting with the State House Representatives and Senators to bringing their attention to those issues that are needed in Clearwater and Pinellas County. The trip was very well organized, and the messages delivered to the state representatives were well received especially in this new political climate in the state capitol. The effort was so tremendous every business owner in Clearwater and surrounding areas should be a member of the Clearwater Regional Chamber. My other takeaway is how positive the political bipartisan climate is in Tallahassee to move this state forward economically." David Weber, Adviser One

"The trip was a great opportunity for the Clearwater Regional Chamber to showcase its Policy Agenda and Legislative platform with the key committee chairs / vice chairs and members of our delegation at the State Capitol. The team of volunteer chamber leaders and members who went on the trip presented a well-orchestrated approach to discuss the key legislative issues facing our member businesses in the Clearwater region. We were able to meet with 8 key legislators from the Senate and House as well as the Florida Chamber during the two day visit. The big takeaway from the meetings was that with a new Governor, new Senate President and Speaker of the House plus 114 legislators that have served two years or less. there is a brighter spirit of cooperation and collaboration that hasn’t been seen in Tallahassee in many years. We are cautiously excited that many of our member issues are also favored issues in the legislature this year which will make it a good outcome for Florida businesses! Thanks to Darryl Henderson and the great staff at the Clearwater Regional Chamber for making it happen!"
Don Ewing, Florida Business Software Solutions LLC, and Co-Chair CRCC Government Affairs Committee
Many thanks to Anita Berry and the team at Corcoran & Johnston for their assistance in making this trip a huge success!

Darryl J. Henderson
VP, Government Affairs

Questions or comments?



Next Events:

Government Affairs Committee meeting: Tuesday March 19 - 7:45 am

Transportation Committee meeting: Tuesday March 19 - 9:00 am

Location:
TBD