Libraries and state parks may be closed, says Fla. Rep. Rooney

With new district boundaries expected early next year, Florida Rep. Pat Rooney predicted the town of Palm Beach will be carved from his District 83 in northeastern Palm Beach County.

In an informal speech to the North Palm Beach Republican Club, followed by a question-and-answer session, Rooney shared his disappointment over that expectation, as well as his ideas for helping his legislative colleagues reign in the state’s budget.

Balancing next year’s spending plan is a task Rooney admits will have Florida’s elected officials making some of their toughest decisions yet.

The West Palm Beach Republican has already outlined his priorities for the coming legislative session, including changes to the way our schools handle deaf children, the way funeral protesters are allowed to conduct themselves, and new ideas for connecting big businesses with smaller, local charities to help the community.

As the father of a child with mild autism, Rooney has served as the director of the Autism Project of Palm Beach County and works closely with many local charities. He knows how the special-needs system works in the schools, and he is concerned about the way deaf children are being lumped in with other special-needs kids.

As for cost cutting, a few of the more innovative ideas Rooney mentioned are not proposed laws, but ideas for research conducted by him and his staff as groundwork for more common-sense and cost-effective rules for the future.

The proposal Rooney seemed most optimistic about involves using video conferencing to attend the Legislature’s many random off-session committee meetings held throughout the year. The travel time to Tallahassee does not justify the cost to taxpayers for meetings that often last just an hour or two, Rooney said, especially given today’s technology.

Another idea, which requires significant hours of research, would eliminate many of the duplicative rules and regulations that Gov. Rick Scott wants streamlined. Rooney, a member of the Rules and Regulations Committee and a long-time businessman, has been assigned the job of reviewing over 1,000 such laws now on the books.

Rooney also warned the Republican Club that traditional state funding for local priorities, including beach restoration and public libraries, may be on the chopping block next session.

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