The Rural Caucus was convened by Chair Scarlet Frisina from Columbia County.  The Caucus introduced a large number of newly elected commissioners in attendance and welcomed them to the FAC family.  The Caucus then heard a presentation from the Small County Coalition on their 2013 Legislative Program.  The Coalition identified several new priorities for the coming year including revenue flexibility, Medicaid cost share, funding for rural economic development and for the Regional Planning Councils, and marine fisheries in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon event.  

The Caucus heard a status update regarding the Rural Economic Study required by proviso in the General Appropriations bill.  In short, the Study is being prepared by Enterprise Florida (in conjunction with the Department of Economic Development and Workforce Florida) and will identify and rank those issues both effective and problematic relating to promoting economic growth in rural communities.    

FAC staff then addressed issues of significance to rural counties and discussed existing policy statements addressing issues such as funding for Fiscally Constrained Counties.   To that end, FAC policy statements included support for the Small County Technical Assistance Program, and funding for Growth Management and Infrastructure, Water Supply, Agricultural Preservation, and capital improvements for small county courthouses and related facilities.  

Finally, FAC staff discussed new policy statements proposed to address issues likely to be the subject of legislation this session, including Medicaid, County Health Departments, and the cost shift between state prisons and county jails. 

For more information please contact FAC Advocate Stephen James.