Updating her legislative agenda, State Sen. Anitere Flores offered Kendall residents an “open door to my office” during the 2014 session of the Florida Legislature that opens in Tallahassee on Mar. 4.
Her invitation came during a friendly visit with District 37 constituents at a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) meeting at the Civic Pavilion in Kendall Village Center on Feb. 20.
“If you have any issue or need that might need my help, I want to hear from you because your concerns for Kendall are mine,” she emphasized to an audience of nearly 100.
“I was born here, grew up here, was educated in Kendall schools and at FIU, and have represented the people of Kendall in the state legislature for 10 years. Kendall has always been my home. I want to make it better, just as you do.”
With that preface, the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation leader sketchedout the key elements of her “Work Plan 2014” before fielding questions on current issues raised by a dozen listeners.
Sen. Flores will play a key role in directing progress of legislation with her presence on seven Senate committees, including chairing the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities, which places her in the forefront of one of Miami- Dade’s hottest controversies — location of FPL transmission lines in southwest Miami-Dade.
“I was really surprised to see several South Dade city mayors band together to protest putting lines along US1,” she stated
when questioned about the proposed FPL line placement between Turkey Point and downtown Miami.
Side-stepping a specific choice, she said the original line placement along the US 1 commercial corridor appeared “logical” and not disruptive of Kendall residential neighborhoods to the west.
“I’ve already been in touch with the governor and every member of his cabinet to express my views,” she added, noting cabinet route approval may “come as early as the first week of the session.”
After RollBackTolls chair Carlos Garcia urged her support to eliminate mounting express lane expansions on Florida’s Turnpike, she noted her cosponsorship of Senate legislation to reform the Miami Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), also criticized for its expansion policies.
“We’ve had a very heated meeting over those issues,” she added about sessions with Florida Turnpike Enterprise and the Miami-Dade delegation, noting similar MDX reform legislation is sponsored by State Rep. Jeanette Nunez in the House.
“They know we’re coming for them next time around,” she promised.
Summarizing educational needs reduced by economy cutbacks, she expressed hope that much of state funding will be restored and appropriately apportioned for Miami-Dade school districts.
To improve education statewide, she wants to expand choices for families in poverty while “cementing a link between education and jobs” through higher participation of business and industry.
Other key points of her platform:
• A Florida GI bill to expand education and employment for veterans;
• Better safeguards against sexual offenders;
• Provision for guardian ad litem for every child in the court system;
• Improve transparency and accountability of assisted living facilities;
• A $500 million tax cut by reducing taxes and motor vehicle fees, and
• Improvement of government accountability and efficiency.
In issues raised by her audience, she warned that “not all proposed bills get to the floor of the House or Senate,” indicating she would watchdog those of special interest to Kendall and Miami-Dade, especially in fair apportionment of school funding and transportation improvements.
“As it’s been for the past five years, all major issues will ultimately revolve around budgeting,” concluded Flores whose two years in the Senate was preceded by eight years in the House, coserving then with former State Rep. Juan C. Zapata, now County Commissioner for the West Kendall District 11.