As they prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session, Central Florida lawmakers are looking out for help for the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County, the demise of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona, and I-4 throughout the region.
Those are things almost everyone in Central Florida’s delegation is examining. The Democrats add, don’t forget about Pulse, and the economic fairness and mental health issues everyone spoke of during the election campaigns this year.
But it’s a session with new rules, especially in the House, perhaps limiting how lawmakers go about securing money for pet projects.
And with the retirements of Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Central Florida has no direct leadership this year, but lawmakers are expressing confidence they’ll make up for it.
And it’s early; a lot of local requests and legislative strategies still are being formulated.
“A lot of things are still coming in,” said state Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Republican from Sanford.
Showing up on almost everybody’s list for likely legislative attention is the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Kissimmee, a project to develop high-tech jobs in the quietly massive electronic sensor industry, through the Belgian-based International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research and the University of Central Florida. Its first phase is to open next spring, and plans are for it to grow to the point of providing thousands of jobs in an area dominated by the low-wage hospitality region.
“It diversifies the workforce by bringing in an industry that currently doesn’t exist, high-tech sensor research,” said state Rep. Mike La Rosa, the Republican from St. Cloud whose district comes close to the center. “I believe it’s the government’s role to create the infrastructure and environment and allow businesses to come in and compete, and this is truly an opportunity for that.”