A few months ago, the Marion County Board of County Commissioners called on Senator Dennis Baxley to keep four priorities in mind for Marion County. The first and second requests are for funding for a state veterans’ nursing home and the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion, respectively. The third and fourth priorities are for policy action regarding modifications to local sales tax and transportation tax, as well as water resources and springs protection. The County also supports measures such as allowing local government zoning flexibility for medical marijuana treatment centers, statewide mental health initiatives and programs to address the opioid epidemic, the modification of existing laws to implement a state animal abuser registry (Molly’s List), and finally they seek legislation that would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida.
The first priority calls for the state’s eighth state veteran’s nursing home to be built in Marion County. With a veteran population numbering over 45,000 Marion County is also centrally located in the state and capable of serving surrounding areas. Veterans often need both medical care and housing, which this nursing home would help to provide as they assist the elderly veterans who served our country.
The second priority request is for funding for the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. The Pavilion hosts hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors in hundreds of events annually. The premier agricultural complex for the state asks for $2,483,508 from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services budget to expand the facility. An appropriations request of roughly $580,320 will also be submitted to help the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion serve as a hurricane shelter for livestock.
The third priority calls for modifications to local sales tax and transportation tax. According to the County Board of Commissioners, “Existing laws do not provide the flexibility local governments need.” This is why they ask for “1.) a discretionary sales tax that can be used for general purposes, including operational expenses and 2.) enactment of the transportation sales surtax for non-charter counties.” In other words, the County Board of Commission wants new means to collect taxes, particularly in sales and transportation.
The fourth and final priority is less detailed, but no less important. Marion County has “voluntarily taken an aggressive stance to protect and preserve our water resources, and we ask the State to take further action to safeguard our water resources for present and future use.” Our water is in danger from many things, including bottling companies and contamination from industrial centers. Even individuals or the local government itself can contaminate water sources when not careful… but they are also some of the only people who will protect it.
As far as the other supported measures, medical marijuana is still yet to fully arrive in Marion County. While some may be able to get prescriptions from a doctor, they still do not have a dispensary to supply them with that medical marijuana in Marion County. Molly’s List was recently passed and adopted in the City of Belleview, largely due to the fact of one local woman’s hard-fought efforts. Texting and driving remains a divisive issue but is still one that can end lives in just a moment.
Do you feel one of the supported issues should have been a fully listed priority?
Do you see something that belonged in either of those lists, but was not? Marion politics would love to hear about it, and we are sure the Board of County Commissioners would too. Their offices are located at 601 SE 25th Ave., Ocala, FL 34471 and their phone number is 352-438-2323.