Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

2008 Legislature2008 Legislature

Hernando issues to get push in Legislature

Dottie Meares, 76, reprises her 1951 role at Weeki Wachee Springs last year. The park is being taken over by the state.

Times files (2007)

Dottie Meares, 76, reprises her 1951 role at Weeki Wachee Springs last year. The park is being taken over by the state.

BY JOHN FRANK | Times Staff Writer

The two-month legislative session starts today in Tallahassee. Expect to hear a lot about the Big Three: budget deficits, property taxes and homeowners insurance. It's a familiar refrain for the four lawmakers who represent portions of Hernando County. But amid the noise on these statewide issues, the delegation also will focus its attention on a number of local efforts. Here's a look at a few issues being pushed by local lawmakers.


The nation's only City of Live Mermaids is in jeopardy.

As the state prepares to take control of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid attraction, state Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, and state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, plan to hold a delegation meeting sometime this session to consider revoking the city of Weeki Wachee's incorporation.

The city, population nine, is about 1 square mile, covering largely the attraction but also a number of neighboring businesses and vacant lands, which get taxed by the city and the county.

The only catch is a bill filing deadline that expired Monday at noon. But lawmakers contend that passing the measure this session is still possible.


Companies that bring large economic development projects to Hernando County currently enjoy expedited permitting. Now Schenck wants to see the Department of Environmental Protection and the Southwest Florida Water Management District join the movement.

The bill is titled the Mike McHugh Act, named in honor of Hernando County's economic development director who successfully advocated similar measures at the county level. It would grant qualifying businesses an expedited ruling within 30 days for wetland resource and environmental resource permit applications. "This is even more important in light of the downturn in the economy," Schenck said.


The almighty dollar isn't just a state issue. Local governments and organizations rely on state money. State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said it's been painful to watch lawmakers cut needed money from existing and future spending plans.

Instead of helping local interests get funds, at this point, she said, "My priority is preventing current projects from being cut."

One of those projects is a large chunk of change reserved for Hernando Beach dredging, Schenck said. He hopes that in the next two months the county will get the all-important notice of intent, which will guarantee the state money stays put.


As affordable housing units age and government tax credits expire, the landlords can sell or opt out of the program.

Fasano worries that this will lead to residents, in many cases fixed-income elderly, being displaced.

He filed a bill to spend $50-million to create the Florida Housing Preservation Program, which would help provide loans and finance the rehabilitation of aging multifamily rental properties and mobile home parks.

"This would help preserve older affordable housing complexes in Pasco and Hernando," he said.

Hernando issues to get push in Legislature 03/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 3, 2008 8:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.