Dozens of Keys officials, others in Tallahassee to lobby during Florida Keys Day

The Legislature is in the middle of its annual two-month session.
The Legislature is in the middle of its annual two-month session.

Planners of today's Florida Keys Day at the state Capitol ordered extra chocolate-covered Key lime pie on a stick for state lawmakers and staff.

"We had 1,000 last year and ran out," said Erin Muir, legislative aide for event host state Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo). "We're making sure we have enough this time."

Also offered at a 5 to 7 p.m. outdoor event at Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee will be island favorites including shrimp, fish dip, conch chowder and conch salad.

More than 75 municipal and Monroe County officials are expected to attend the annual Florida Keys Day to speak with legislators on issues of local concern.

Chief among those are the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, with seeks a 10-year commitment to provide $25 million annually for Keys environmental and water-quality projects, including the purchase of vacant lots that may never qualify for building permits.

Raschein's stewardship bill was adopted by the Florida House in its budget, but its final fate will be decided in an upcoming budget conference with the Florida Senate, Muir said.

The local contingent traveling to Tallahassee will begin a slate of meetings scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. today. "It's going to be very busy day," Muir said.

Also in Tallahassee this year are Florida Keys Community College students who will speak on behalf of a bill filed to allow construction of a dormitory capable of housing 400 students. The college already has a dorm for 100 students.

The bill is needed to obtain a special exemption from the rate-of-growth ordinance, part of the Keys' Area of Critical State Concern designation, that limits the number of new housing units in Monroe County.

"The bill is scheduled to be heard [today] while the students are here," Muir said.

Florida Keys Day is "a pairing of both the public and private sector presenting to the Florida Legislature and the governor of Florida a unified voice for Monroe County's unique needs [such as] wastewater policies and funding, affordable housing, property insurance issues and tourism initiatives," says a description from event sponsor Leadership Monroe County.