Tallahassee Chamber chides Rep. Hager for ‘dangerous, disruptive idea’ to move capital

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce said Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, doesn’t know much about history.

Chamber President Sue Dick, Tuesday called out Hager for pushing a “damaging, disruptive and dangerous” idea.

The South Florida Republican wants to move the state Capitol from the sunny, southern charms of Tallahassee closer to where most Floridians live, among the theme parks of Central Florida and South Florida’s tropical beaches.

A prepared statement from the Chamber pointedly noted Hager’s proposal isn’t even an original idea. He simply “resurrected” a bill the Legislature rejected more than a half-century ago.

“Now, as then, lawmakers should quickly recognize that Tallahassee is and always should be home to Florida’s capital,” Dick said. “Moving the capital of state government would be unwise, unnecessary, costly, inconvenient and just plain wrong.”

Hager filed a Capitol Relocation Task Force proposal Monday. It would direct the state chief financial officer to provide funding to identify relocation options of executive and legislative offices.

Hager apparently is frustrated by the cost of the commute to his legislative office in Tallahassee and his Miami beachfront suburb, according to the News Service of Florida. His proposal to move the Capitol has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

The last time the Legislature indulged a downstate lawmaker’s protests that their job required them to travel was in 1967 when Sen. Lee Weisenborn pushed for a commission to study a move to Orlando.

His efforts were immortalized by a bronze plaque installed on the first floor of the 22-story Capitol building.

“This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Weissenborn, whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for the construction of this building,” said the marker inside the building, which opened in 1977.

Hager’s proposal didn’t sit well with Mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor.

“I’m vehemently opposed to this proposal as both the Mayor of Tallahassee and as the future Governor of Florida,” Gillum said.

His campaign spokesman, Geoff Burgan, added, “The Mayor is exceedingly proud of the All-American city of Tallahassee as our state capital. We hope Speaker Corcoran and the House Republicans focus their attention on real issues to help Floridians like affordable health care or a better economy for working people.”