Florida House District 3 Representative Jayer Williamson today filed House Bill 1035, legislation aimed to change the deadline for submission of incorporation feasibility studies. HB 1035 would also require those studies include the results of a non-binding “straw poll,” demonstrating that at least 60% of voters within proposed future city limits want lawmakers to proceed.
“As a State Representative, filing legislation that protects the will and the wallets of my constituents is one of my top priorities,” Williamson told South Santa Rosa News. “My policy for requiring a group that wants me to run a bill to establish a new taxing authority is a common-sense approach that both my fellow Representatives and House staff are excited about.”
Williamson said formalizing this “logical step” not only ensures that those being taxed are truly supportive of the initiative but also provides guidance to the group directing the efforts, and home rule prevails. “Gauging public support through a non-binding referendum is an opportunity to facilitate legislation collaboratively.”
Local government watchdog Jerry Couey, who is well known for his “No New Taxes” mantra, said the bill is the “smartest move” he’s seen Williamson make. “It’s important to check the pulse of the community before you undertake an effort to set up a new taxing authority.”
Williamson’s bill would create an August 31 deadline for the year PRIOR to the legislative session in which lawmakers would vote on proposed incorporation.
Therefore, a feasibility study related to Navarre’s proposed incorporation would need to include the results of the planned November 2022 non-binding referedum and, subsequently, be turned into the state by August 31, 2023 in order for lawmakers to take action during the 2024 legislative session.
“Navarre Area United agrees with the bill. It provides clarity to the incorporation process,” said Jonathan Cole, director of NAU, one of two local political action committees aiming to incorporate Navarre.
Cole said NAU will release its feasibility study for public review around April 2022 then submit to the state legislature the results of the anticipated November 2022 non-binding referendum ahead of the August 31, 2023 deadline.
Williamson for the upcoming session has also filed a bill to create a special fire district for Navarre Beach after voters in 2020 approved by supermajority the creation of that new taxing authority, which will impose additional annual assessments of $500 for residential properties, $63 for vacant land and $0.41 per square foot for commercial properties on Navarre Beach.
JOINT RECALL RESOLUTION
Furthermore, Williamson during the upcoming session will try again to pass legislation to allow voters to remove county officials and commissioners.
Currently voters in District 3, which includes most of Santa Rosa County and the northern portion of Okaloosa County, are unable to recall elected county officials. Only voters in Florida’s 20 chartered counties can do so.
To change that, Williamson co-sponsored 2021 legislation, but the measure didn’t pass a required committee. Since then he has teamed up with Senator Joe Gruters, who is also chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and they’ve filed joint resolutions for the upcoming 2022 legislation to enable voters in all Florida Counties to remove county officials, including commissioners.