Move Florida’s capital? Lawmaker proposes alternative to Tallahassee

A study could determine if Central Florida is a better location for state government.
Published Aug. 7, 2019|Updated Aug. 9, 2019

In an idea that has popped up repeatedly — and been rejected — in the past, a South Florida Democrat is asking lawmakers to consider moving the state capital from Tallahassee.

Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, filed the proposal (SB 112) for consideration during the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January.

The proposal seeks a study by the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability about the cost of relocating the capital to Central Florida, as well as the economic impact to Tallahassee and the surrounding area.

Rader, who would like the study completed by the end of 2021, wants the review to include calculations about the cost to travel to the state capital for members of the public and lawmakers.

Rader proposed similar legislation for the 2019 session, but it did not get heard in committees. Similarly, then-Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, proposed a measure in 2018 to form a task force to look at options for relocating the Capitol building, executive-branch offices and the Legislature.

Hager’s proposal also failed to get heard in committees.

Tallahassee was selected as the territorial capital in 1824, as it was the midway point between the state’s two principal cities --- St. Augustine and Pensacola, according to the Florida Department of State.

Florida voters in 1900 rejected a referendum to relocate the capital.

In 1969, when plans were advanced to build a new Capitol, a debate on relocation surfaced but never made it to the ballot. In 1972, the Legislature agreed to build the 22-story Capitol building that stands behind the Old Capitol.