Legislative Affairs oversees and manages the legislative and intergovernmental initiatives and functions for the County at the state and federal levels.
The department's responsibilities include developing the County's state and federal legislative agendas, coordinating the County's position and response to pending state and federal legislation, preparing resolutions, talking points, issuing briefs and legislative updates, and identifying and responding to federal, state, and local funding opportunities.
Each year, Legislative Affairs creates the State and Federal legislative agendas, which are used as advocacy tools to work with federal and state lawmakers and agencies. The agenda includes the County’s legislative priorities and the County’s positions on anticipated issues relevant to the County that are expected to arise in the current U.S. Congress or the current state Legislature. The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approves these agendas. The County’s legislative staff and federal and state lobbyists pursue the legislative issues listed in the approved agendas, placing special attention on the priority issues.
The County will continue to focus on unique water quality and land acquisition needs, the importance of wind insurance affordability, and vacation rental regulations. The County will also continue to advocate for the creation of a 50/50 rule for a joint County/State shared financial responsibility in takings-cases.
For the 2021 legislative session, the county will be tentatively seeking legislative appropriations of $20 million for water quality, $5 million for land acquisitions, $750,000 for the vessel pump-out program, and support for wind insurance glide path, vacation rental carve-outs, and affordable housing, among other things. The agenda will be discussed at the January 2021 Board of County Commissioners' regularly scheduled meeting.
The County’s federal priorities include primary issues of COVID-19 response and recovery, hurricane recovery, the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and protecting its affordability, Higgs Beach issues, water quality, payments in lieu of taxes, Everglades restoration and the health of Florida Bay, and oil spill protection. The agenda also discusses the environment, transportation, social services, public safety, and other general government issues.
Memberships in Legislative Alliances
- Florida Association of Counties
- Small County Coalition
- Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
- South Florida Regional Planning Association
- National Association of Counties
- Gulf States Counties and Parishes Caucus
Florida Association of Counties' Federal Committee
Monroe County also works in partnership with federal groups to advance the County’s priorities. This committee helps to shape FAC’s federal priorities, which include reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program.
National Association of Counties (NACO)
The NACO’s Gulf Coast Counties and Parishes Caucus focuses on issues related to the Gulf of Mexico. These issues include the National Flood Insurance Program and funding for the RESTORE Act. The RESTORE ACT stands for the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act that was created due to the BP oil spill in 2010. Monroe County Legislative Director Lisa Tennyson sits on NACO’s Public Lands steering committee that monitors and advocates for federal PILT funding.
Southeast Regional Climate Change Compact
Monroe County supports the Compact’s annual federal legislative agenda that advocates for federal action related to energy and climate issues.
The RESTORE Act is a 2012 federal law that established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. It provides programs, projects, and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast Region that suffered from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Legislative Affairs is responsible for the implementation of the $20 million in RESTORE Act funds the County is slated to receive over the next 15 years.
Florida Keys Stewardship Act
The Florida Keys Stewardship Act was passed by the Florida State Legislature and signed into law in 2016. It was passed after a single session of consideration and is a significant State policy shift towards protecting the Florida Keys nearshore waters and lands that are critical to our delicate ecosystem. It also codifies the State’s recognition of the importance of land acquisition and water quality projects as critical needs.