Pasco's Legg, Fasano getting an early start on legislative session
NEW PORT RICHEY - With the 2012 election in the rear-view mirror, Pasco County's state lawmakers are driving fast toward the 2013 session of the Florida Legislature. State Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, and state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, already are crafting their legislation and setting priorities. Legg recently was named chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Legislative committees are holding preliminary meetings this week. Legg's District 17 includes sections of Pasco from Little Road to Zephyrhills.A first-term senator, Legg also drew a spot on the Senate education appropriations subcommittee. He served on similar groups during his years in the Florida House. "As a father of five, a certified classroom teacher and school administrator, I understand how vital public education is and how equally important it is to Florida's employers to have a solid workforce to draw from," Legg said in a news release. For the past 10 years, Legg has served as a Florida certified teacher and business administrator at an A-rated West Pasco charter school, Dayspring Academy. Legg's other committee appointments are ethics and elections, government oversight and accountability, military affairs, space and domestic security, and the select committee on patient protection and the federal Affordable Care Act. "Our office's top priorities are going to be economic development, education and transportation," Legg said in an email reply to inquiries about his 2013 legislative agenda. "With education and economic development we will be focusing on developing industry certifications in high schools that will make 11th and 12th grade relevant for students as well as matching our higher education degrees with marketplace demands in employable fields," Legg said. "Our transportation focus will be on solutions to serve the Tampa Bay region by linking Pasco to Hillsborough and downtown Tampa," he added. After returning to the House after a decade in the Florida Senate, Fasano is adjusting to a limit of filing six pieces of legislation for each representative. He served in the House from 1994 to 2002 before shifting to the Senate. Term limits barred Fasano from seeking a third consecutive four-year term in the Senate this year. Fasano's House District 36 includes all of Pasco west of Little Road. Among other priorities, Fasano wants to refile an ethics commission bill. Grand jury recommendations include more authority for ethics groups, holding officials more accountable, increasing transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest. Another bill will propose more stringent background checks for staff members at assisted-living facilities and grant residents more protections. A Fasano proposal would create statewide insurance pools for windstorm and sinkhole coverage. He thinks such coverage has become too expensive through Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The pools might be one way to lower premiums. Fasano will renew efforts to repeal the advanced nuclear cost recovery fee for utilities. The Legislature first approved the monthly fee in 2006 to help pay development expenses for nuclear power projects. Fasano said lawmakers were duped with low fee estimates when the fee was approved. He thinks company stockholders should bear the costs, not customers, until the nuclear-powered plant opens, which could take more than a decade. He questions if some nuclear facilities will ever open. Legislation also will address prescription drug abuse. Counties and local governments could pass regulations that are more stringent on pill mills than state laws, under a Fasano proposal. Fasano hopes to require physicians to consult the state prescription drug monitoring database before they prescribe a controlled substance. The current law does not require them to do so. He also wants to win authorization of state funding for the database, which has relied on federal grants and private donations since going into operation.
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