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Hillsborough Legislative Delegation Gives Its Take On Tallahassee Session

May 17, 2019

Several members of Hillsborough County's legislative delegation gave their take on the just-ended Tallahassee session Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

Three of the four lawmakers at the forum were Democrats, who are in the minority in Tallahassee.

Sen. Darryl Rouson, who represents part of Pinellas and HIllsborough, summed up their feelings this way:

"We played a lot of defense this session against some bad things which we couldn't win, but we could speak policy through our amendments, trying to make bad bills better," he said. "Unfortunately, they didn't take a lot of our amendments."

Still, Rouson says there were some positives that came out of the session, including criminal justice reform, getting several million dollars to fight opioid abuse, and restoring money for the arts.

On the other side of the coin was Republican James Grant, who represents northwest Hillsborough County in the House. Grant said he was most proud of  the legislature passing a bill enabling schoolchildren to get vouchers to attend private schools.

"If we talk about separate but unequal, the most discriminatory thing we have in our society today is the fact that the educational opportunities that exist in the state of Florida and around the country depend on the amount of money you have," Grant said. "I'm proud of the work that we have done to step up and continue saying that money should never be the differential between a world-class education or the best education."

Also speaking at the event were Democrats, freshman House member Fentrice Driskell and Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa.

Cruz said her biggest regret of the session was not getting a bill passed that would require old schools with lead pipes to install lead filters in their drinking water fountains.

Sen. Darryl Rouson at the microphone, flanked on the left by Rep. Fentrice Driskell, and on the right by Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. James Grant
Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media