Sarasota News Leader

06/28/2013

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Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 52 our legislators and letting them know more 17. The biggest change to the process will be about who we are." the addition of a legislative training session, intended to educate local nonprofits about the That means more than just asking for money. Shea credits Alliance members for stepping ins and outs of the bill and budget process. up as a resource for the delegation. When Detert had a question about how the proposed expansion of Medicaid would affect the state's elderly population, the group provided answers, saving Detert valuable staff time. When state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton had a question about funding for the Florida Center's fetal alcohol clinic, Shea was there to help. "We are seen as problem solvers," she says. The Alliance based its strategy on one used by health and human services nonprofits on the Treasure Coast, but it's still a rarity in Florida politics. "It does seem like a no-brainer, but there are actually very few communities in the state of Florida that are holding these legislative summits and breakfasts," Shea points out. Last year's pattern will largely be repeated this year: The Alliance will issue invitations to local stakeholders, asking them to suggest issues for the Legislature to focus on. The Alliance will review those proposals and then offer them to working groups at its Sept. 12 summit. Next, the refined priorities will hit the breakfast table Oct. Shea says the one source of disappointment during this year's legislative session was the decision to reject federal money to expand Medicaid as part of ObamaCare, despite Gov. Rick Scott's well-publicized about-face on the issue. Shea remains flabbergasted by the decision to "leave the federal dollars on the table." Not that the issue's dead. Some lawmakers are still urging Scott to call a special session to deal with ObamaCare, and its implementation will certainly be debated in the spring of 2014, when the Legislature next meets. Alliance members and community advocates will surely have something to say about it. At last fall's breakfast, Bennett called Shea a "wonderful lobbyist" who "will flat wear your ass out." During this year's session, the delegation members were so bombarded with community input they called up Shea and asked her to call off the attack. Those same lawmakers will be hearing more from the Alliance soon. % The modern Florida legislative building stands tall behind the Capitol in Tallahassee. Image from iStockphoto

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