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Chamber sets legislative 2021 priorities

By CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - | Oct 30, 2020
PHOTO PROVIDED Southwest Florida Alliance of Chambers members at last year’s legislative session with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Sanibel & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee recently advised the board of directors to adopt five priorities for the 2021 Florida legislative session, which will start in March. All five address local water quality issues.

“We are gratified that the Southwest Florida Alliance of Chambers, which we helped found and have heavily supported, has adopted the same priorities,” chamber President and Chief Executive Officer John Lai said. “All eight chambers in the alliance are behind these, which ultimately makes us stronger in moving our priorities forward in Tallahassee.”

In the interest of clean water, the priorities support sustained funding for the Everglades reservoir and other Everglades restoration projects, the implementation of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force’s recommendations to reduce nutrient pollution from all sources, strengthening stormwater standards for urban and agricultural landscapes, funding for upgrading and building advanced wastewater treatment, and the establishment of statewide septic tank inspection and maintenance requirements.

“As in past years, we foresee the chamber and alliance exerting a strong presence at the state level in support of these priorities so that water issues are not forgotten in the wake of the pandemic,” Lai, who also serves on the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Resource Accountability and Collaboration Committee, said. “In 2018, the chamber began the Southwest Florida Day bus trip to Tallahassee, and it was highly successful. We hope to build on that momentum in more ways that benefit our membership and the region as a whole.”

During session, chamber representatives will meet with legislators and testify in the House and Senate on the priority issues. Last year, the chamber alliance pushed for some of the same issues, making headway on most. It also backed funding for and stabilization of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. With a big win in successfully obtaining both long-term reauthorization and $50 million in annual funding for Visit Florida, the chamber removed that priority for 2021.