Local officials speak up in Tallahassee

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - With the 2018 state legislative session underway, many local representatives are heading to Tallahassee to listen in and speak up about issues they believe in.

Last week, Walton County Commissioner Cecilia Jones made her way to Tallahassee.

Jones is concerned over a constitutional revision allowing state lawmakers to determine rules and regulations on a smaller scale, which would take away some lawmaking abilities from city and county officials.

"I'm all about local government and local control. I feel like we, as elected officials, know better our constituents and the needs of our county. We certainly appreciate Tallahassee, you know, and we always welcome input but I think the final decision should rest with us," Jones said.

Jones voiced that one concern is the right to decide where certain establishments, such as marijuana dispensaries and strip clubs, could be would be made by state lawmakers and not local officials.

"The bill I'm so concerned about would tell us where to put strip joints, where we could put the drug distributing houses. We want to keep those places away from our children, away from our churches, and we want to make the decision on where these places go," Jones added. "It would hurt our local businesses because they would be making decisions in Tallahassee. Local businesses would have to go over there, spend their money to try and fight for their rights."

While there, she also listened in on session discussion on customary land use.

"I did attend the customary use session and it's the same thing going on with other issues. Tallahassee wants to move the decision making to Tallahassee," she said, stating the economic importance of pubic use on the beaches. "I support the public use of the beach. I feel like we have customarily used these beaches as long as I ever remember and even back as far as the [Native Americans] were here. So again, I think it's a local decision that the local government makes."

Jones said although the talk about customary land use is moving forward, it still has many obstacles to overcome before a final decision is made.

Tuesday, Walton County commissioners agreed to sign a letter against 'home rule.'