A Palm Beach County representative thinks it’s time for Florida’s capital to move to new digs.
A bill (HB 1335) filed by state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, would require the formation of a committee to study moving the Legislature and the offices of the governor, state attorney and chief financial officer to a location that can be accessible to more citizens.
The “bureaucracy” would remain in Tallahassee because those state agencies do most of their business electronically and would not have to relocate, Hager told The Palm Beach Post Tuesday.
The proposal is reminiscent of the late Miami Sen. Lee Weissenborn’s failed attempt in 1967 to move the capital from Tallahassee to Central Florida. His efforts, however, did result in the construction of a building for the Legislature and executive branch offices, the Capitol that is still used today.
Tallahassee was established as the capital in 1824 when Florida was just a territory. But what worked nearly 200 years ago as the government and commerce hub of the state is now obsolete, Hager said.
About 3 million of Florida’s 21 million people currently live within a three-hour drive to the capital. A move to a more centrally located metropolis — say, Orlando — would make it easier for more citizens to meet with their legislators, Hager said.
“The point is to deal with an emerging Florida, to make government more accessible to the public,” he said.
A move also would be a boost for business as there are no direct flights to Tallahassee from such major cities as Chicago or Boston, he said.
But the proposal, as might be expected, is getting some backlash from Tallahassee’s business community.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Sue Dick – president and CEO of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce — called Hager’s bill “a deeply flawed proposal” that “should be quickly disposed of by the Legislature this week.”
“No study is necessary to determine that this bad idea would have a damaging, disruptive, and dangerous impact on countless families, businesses, institutions and an entire community,” she said.
Hagar responded to the Chamber’s position with a shrug.
“Tallahassee does not own this capital … Leon County does not own the capital,” he said. “The capital belongs to the body politic.”