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Montford’s North FL perspective on the 2017 legislative process

from Senator Bill Montford’s office

TALLAHASSEE- When the 2017 Legislative Session wrapped up on May 8th, Senator Bill Montford had reservations about the session process but reported many good things for North Florida. “I am proud to report that North Florida will benefit from many of the legislative initiatives this session,” he said.

TRIUMPH GULF COAST: The Senate unanimously passed HB 7077 on Triumph Gulf Coast. Senator Montford had this to say, “For the better part of the last decade, our communities have been feeling the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This legislation affirms our longstanding commitment to keep these critical funds in Northwest Florida. It was a pleasure to work with Senators Broxson and Gainer in reaching this milestone. Both of these fine colleagues worked diligently to ensure we had a fair and comprehensive plan. We look forward to working with the Triumph Board.” The bill allocates 300 million dollars from the litigation to a board appointed by the Legislature and Governor to spend on local and regional projects.

COMMON SENSE EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILTY: “Together, with a bipartisan coalition of Senators, we worked to provide teachers and students with relief from the environment of high stakes standardized tests. I was proud of the work product that passed off the floor of the Senate that included elimination of tests and removing the requirement for school districts to use the complex and controversial value added model to evaluate teachers. However, the bill died in the House and only a few of these much-needed changes were added to a budget conforming bill that encompassed many provisions that will hurt our public education system. While I am grateful for the elimination of at least one exam, it came with too many provisions I cannot support. I believe our students and teachers deserve much more and I will continue to fight for them,” said Senator Montford after he voted against a more than 200 page education budget conforming bill that ultimately passed the Senate and House.

PAY RAISE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES: “People often talk about running government like a business and I agree. Which is exactly why we have to give our most valuable asset, our employees, a raise. Florida has one of the lowest per capita state employee ratios in the Nation and one of the lowest salaries. If we want to retain and attract the best and brightest to our workforce, we have to offer a competitive compensation package. This year, in working with my colleagues, I was able to secure a base pay increase across the board while holding the benefits and retirement package harmless,” Senator Montford commented about the $1400 dollars for employees who make under $40,000 and $1000 for employees whose salary is over $40,000, as well as increased starting salaries for corrections officers.

PREEMPTION TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS STALLED: “Florida is a richly diverse state and ensuring local control honors the fact that a one size fits all will not work. Local government promotes robust input from voters and I am proud to work against attempts to undermine that system,” said Senator Montford about the many proposals this year to preempt local governments, including a substantial preemption bill that died in his committee after he refused to place it on the agenda.

Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) represents the Florida Senate’s third district, which includes the following counties: Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla.  Senator Montford was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and subsequently re-elected in 2012 and 2016.  He serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism, Vice Chair of Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities and member of Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K - 12 Education, Health Policy and Rules.

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