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2016 Legislative Days
February 1, 2016 - February 2, 2016
NUCA of Florida’s Legislative Days a Success
By Kari Hebrank, Executive Vice President
The National Utility Contractors of Florida (NUCA FL) members gathered in chilly Tallahassee on February 1-2 for NUCA FL Legislative Days. The event kicked off with an Executive Committee meeting luncheon at Hotel Duval, immediately followed by a productive Board of Directors’ meeting. Bruce Kershner, lobbyist for the Association, gave a brief overview of critical legislation before NUCA FL members hustled to the capitol building with their colorful legislative brochures in hand to meet with their state representatives and senators, sharing both issues of concern and support for diverse legislation working its way through the process. In the evening, attendees gathered at the Governors Inn to enjoy light refreshments and cool beverages while networking with industry colleagues. A few lawmakers stopped by the reception to chat and learn about issues today’s underground utility contractors face.
The next morning the Legislative Breakfast briefing began with a full breakfast buffet and Senator Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), Chair of the Senate Community Affairs Committee, providing his interesting insight into the Session, state regulations, environmental and infrastructure funding issues and water policy. An advocate for the construction industry, Senator Simpson graciously stayed beyond his “allotted” time to answer questions, and if not for the insistence of his aide that he had to hustle back to the capitol for a Senate floor session, Chair Simpson might still be conversing with our group!
Subsequently, Majority Leader Representative Dana Young (R-Tampa) gave an overview of the many issues lawmakers must balance and deal with and the “flow” of this year’s Session. She mentioned that Suncoast Utility Contractors Association (SUCA) was one of the first groups to financially support her campaign when she first ran for the Florida House of Representatives. Speaker Young also commented that she felt confident that the Legislature would pass a budget before sine die on March 11. In closing, she mentioned that with the Senate districts redrawn, she would be running for an open seat in the Florida Senate.
There was plenty of discussion when Drew Winters, Deputy Director of Professions and Jerry Wilson, Director, Division of Regulation, at the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, addressed the attendees. Both spoke about the recent activities and improvements at the department, such as the new mobile app for reporting unlicensed activity. They asked for feedback from the NUCA FL members on ideas to better serve contractors. Last, (but not least) Wayne Bertsch, Vice President of Political Operations at Wilson & Associates gave an overview of the redistricting debacle, the impact on future elections and the current political “shape” of our state. He also gave a plug for the importance of NUCA FL members to contribute to the PAC to support industry-friendly candidates.
After breakfast, NUCA FL attendees converged on the capitol to “walk the halls” and to ensure the voice of the state’s underground utility contractors was heard “loud and clear.” On behalf of your state association, we thank our Legislative Days sponsors—Utility Service Company (Platinum) and Nelson Construction (Gold)—along with those who took the time to travel to Tallahassee and participate –it makes a difference!