State Rep. Holly Raschein was pleased with her accomplishments in Tallahassee during the recent legislative session that ended May 13, the freshman lawmaker told members of the Key West Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
"I think as a freshman I had a pretty stellar year," said Raschein, a Republican who acquired a prior understanding of the state's political machine while working as legislative aide to former State Rep. Ron Saunders.
She opened her presentation to the chamber with a description of the first-ever "familiarization tour" she helped organize with FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates for Monroe) to show state insurance officials the strength of Keys buildings and their ability to withstand hurricane winds.
"They were blown away by our mitigation techniques and our building standards," Raschein said, adding that lawmakers this year "made Citizens (Property Insurance Corp.) more accountable" by adding an inspector general to the state-owned windstorm insurance company as well as a board member to act as a consumer advocate.
Raschein promised chamber members that she was keeping the pressure on state transportation officials about the pace of construction along North Roosevelt Boulevard. She encouraged everyone to attend an Aug. 6 town hall meeting about the long-term project that is costing local businesses millions in lost revenue.
"Another big issue is wastewater funding, and I brought home $2 million out of the $58 million that's been allocated for the Keys," she said, emphasizing the need to include funding for Key West stormwater improvements in the discussion of sewer projects.
Raschein said she also "brought home money" for Florida Keys Community College and Lower Keys Medical Center to help pay for the care they provide to uninsured patients.
Local businessman Ed Swift thanked Raschein for her efforts and for her fight to pass a military housing bill that would have obligated private companies to pay local property taxes on civilian-occupied units.
"You fought a great fight; unfortunately, the governor decided to veto it," Swift said, adding that the county's affordable housing shortage continues and criticizing state officials for raiding a fund designated for affordable housing.
City Commissioner Tony Yaniz emphasized the importance of Raschein's pressure on the Florida Department of Transportation, and criticized the length of the project.