State House District 72 seat special primary to be held Dec. 5, followed by election on Feb. 13, 2018

Legislative session begins on Jan. 9 and ends on March 9

Rep. Alex Miller. Contributed photo

The special primary to replace state Rep. Alex Miller of Sarasota will be held on Dec. 5, with the special election for the Florida House District 72 seat set for Feb. 13, 2018, Ken Detzer, Florida’s secretary of state, has announced.

The qualifying period will begin at 8 a.m. on Sept. 28 and conclude at noon on Sept. 29, Detzer added in his notice.

A candidate may qualify by petition if he or she obtains 305 valid signatures of citizens. Otherwise, a partisan candidate must pay a fee of $1,781.82, while a candidate with no party affiliation has to pay $1,187.88.

Two people have announced their intention to file for the District 72 seat — James Buchanan of Longboat Key, son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key; and Alison Foxall, a Libertarian.

Miller informed state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, the speaker of the State House, that she would be resigning effective Sept. 1 because of personal demands on her time.

She is the CEO of Mercedes Medical, which has announced plans for a new complex in Lakewood Ranch, and she has two teenage boys, as she pointed out in her Aug. 24 letter to Corcoran.

Even before Detzer made his announcement last week, Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert had voiced concern that until Miller’s successor was elected, the county’s legislative delegation would be one person short.

Because 2018 is an election year, the Legislature will convene on Jan. 9; the last day of the regular session will be March 9.

Sarasota County commissioners are focused on several initiatives this year, including attempts to win state funding for the widening of segments of River Road; the purchase of property and enhancements needed to create the North Extension of The Legacy Trail; and water improvement projects.

Another issue they have cited, which has become more pressing in the past couple of years, is the need to prevent legislative initiatives to pre-empt “home rule” — enactment of state laws that supersede county regulations.

The Florida Senate has posted this timeline for the 2018 legislative session. Image courtesy Florida Senate

The commissioners also have expressed concern about any new legislation that could affect property tax collections and the county’s decisions about spending Tourist Development Tax revenue. Before the board held its June budget workshops, for example, county financial management staff had produced models showing improving trends for the coming fiscal years. Then the Legislature approved referenda for the 2018 General Election ballot that will allow voters to decide on new homestead exemptions that would have a significant impact on county property tax revenue.

A former state representative and state senator, Detert told her colleagues she fully expected the homestead exemptions to win voter approval.