State Legislators Hold Public Forum - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

State Legislators Hold Public Forum

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State legislators gave Bay County residents the chance to have their voices be heard, Thursday.  

Both Bay County House Representatives and Senator Don Gaetz hosted a public hearing to get constituents opinions prior to heading into the legislative session next March.

Many residents expressed some concerns, but there were also just as many people there to say thank you to the representatives for the work they have done up to this point.

"Really, it seems to me that the real value of meetings like this tonight is that we hear from people on the cutting edge of the economy, that we hear from people who are dealing with people real needs and hurt.. and that's what we heard tonight. It's like doing your homework," said Florida Senate President, Don Gaetz.

At the beginning of the meeting, Rep. Jimmy Patronis, Rep. Marti Coley and Sen. Don Gaetz discussed four local bills that will be introduced to the Florida house.

Those include one about entertainment districts in Panama City and also a precautionary measure to protect Bay Medical Center employee pensions.

Once the official business was taken care of, many residents approached to talk on behalf of many different organizations about many different issues. Those include things like Health Department funding, the state of Florida fisheries, the Medicaid program, and others.

One topic came up more than once, gaming.

 "There were a couple constituents that come up regarding a gaming issue and one was an opponent and one was a proponent of gaming," said Republican Representative Jimmy Patronis, District 6. "I think those are very emotionally charged issues, some feel is a libertarian issue, some worry about what it does to the community if it is allowed to be established. I think all of that type of feedback.. we don't get enough of it."

After everyone had the chance to speak, Representative Patronis officially swore in Senator Don Gaetz as a the new chairman for future Bay County Delegation meetings.