Elections bill stalls in committee

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

A local bill to make the elections for the City of Sanford and Lee County Board of Education partisan failed to move out of committee this week after not receiving a favorable recommendation.

Rep. Mike Stone, who represents Lee County and filed the proposed law this spring, told The Herald on Thursday that H.B. 490 is still eligible to be voted out of the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee despite not getting the green light the first time.

“With so many committee members absent at the time of the vote, as well as the committee time constraints [during the time] the vote for H.B. 490 was taken, it was wise for the Senate committee chairman to realize this and allow the bill to be brought back before the committee at a more appropriate time,” Stone said in a written statement.

The Lee Board of Education and Sanford City Council both passed resolutions earlier this year against the proposed law, and school board member Tamara Brogan spoke in opposition to the bill during the committee meeting Tuesday.

“Because we, as a board, are in opposition of this bill, I was glad it did not pass in committee,” she said. “But it is still in committee, and I don’t know it will come back up. It’s all up in the air.”

Stone’s bill did not receive an unfavorable report either, and he said “the vote on Tuesday is one part of the process for this bill to become law.”

The bill, which was filed April 1, passed the House a few days later and has been stalled in the Senate committee since April 8.

Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive said she’s relieved the bill hasn’t moved out of committee and hopes “it dies a quiet death.”

“The role of the municipal elected officials, in my opinion, is focusing on serving the public — not on someone’s political position,” she said. “We have had a hard enough time without having the complications of introducing political partisanship into the arena.”

Those seeking office shouldn’t be worried about forwarding party agendas and should instead focus on how to best serve the public, Olive said.

The proposed legislation would not impact the Town of Broadway.