The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in Central Florida, is asking legislators to bypass state rules and a moratorium on new nursing homes so it can construct one in the sprawling retirement community. HB 1159 would carve out an exception that would allow nursing homes to be built in communities with large elderly populations and relatively low numbers of nursing home beds.
According to state analysts, that description fits only one place: the Villages.
The community says it needs nursing homes to start addressing the long-term care of its aging residents. Rep. Marlene O'Toole, whose district includes the Villages, sponsored HB 1159. Sen. Alan Hays, whose district also includes the Villages, sponsors the Senate version, SB 1482.
The town says it will need nearly 800 nursing home beds to ensure a 16-to-1 ratio for its current population, O'Toole said Tuesday. "We think the need is now," she said.
The request underscores the power and influence of Villages developer and mega-GOP donor Gary Morse. And it has Democrats and even some Republicans in the Legislature uneasy about playing favorites.