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Florida Legislative Session and Polk’s Priorities

Published on Feb 22, 2021

The Florida legislative session is about to kick off, but in a much different and subdued way than in past years.

There will be no Polk County Day, a time where local leaders would be able to rally legislative support for local priorities. And all interactions with lawmakers are being limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, none of that means that Polk County's priorities are any less demanding than in past years.

Polk's commissioners, along with county management, still want and need to press the county's legislative priorities, which can be boiled down to a few categories that include:

  • State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) – support all money in the State and Local Housing Trust Funds for affordable housing and the elimination of the cap on the State and Local Housing Trust Funds;
  • Behavioral health – support recurring funding of the Criminal Justice Mental Health and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant program (CJMHSA) with recurring state funds to counties that have received reinvestment grant funds and support the reinstatement of full funding for the CJMHSA program. The county also supports appropriate funding for behavioral health services including core mental health and substance abuse services;
  • Unfunded state mandates – oppose any legislation that imposes new state mandates or other financial burdens on county governments;
  • Nuisances within unrecorded subdivisions – adopt legislation expanding Chapter of Florida Statutes related to Nuisances to include nuisances within unrecorded subdivisions meeting certain criteria regarding size, ownership and prohibited activities;
  • Heartland Headwaters Protection and Sustainability Act – support legislation that would enable Polk, on behalf of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative to secure funding to develop non-traditional alternative water supply projects and interconnect piping to "wheel water" throughout the county, optimizing existing allocations and facilities.

This year's legislative session begins March 2 and ends April 30. You can watch the session on PGTV at