Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

« New Medicaid law to sting Jackson | Main | Venezuela's the new Cuba »

Miami-Dade Delgation starts 2014 session with united front on budget issues

Late last month, state lawmakers from across Miami-Dade County hunkered down and drew up a list of their collective priorities.

The exercise was about more than creating a road map for the upcoming session. It was about presenting a united front to the Florida Legislature.

“For first time in a long time, the Miami-Dade delegation is seen as a substantive delegation, rather than a bunch of crazy people who fight each other,” said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican and vice chair of the delegation.

That newfound cohesion may help the state’s largest delegation accomplish its goals in Tallahassee this year.

The priorities are as diverse as the delegation itself: Protect funding for Jackson Memorial Hospital; increase incentives to lure the film industry to Florida; step up the penalties for hit-and-run drivers; and extend in-state tuition college rates to undocumented students.

Miami-Dade lawmakers will also work together to secure state dollars for local projects, from the Skyrise Miami observation tower to the senior centers known as comedores.

Still, some high-profile — and high-impact — issues are likely to be divisive.

Miami-Dade lawmakers have already expressed conflicting opinions on subsidies for sports stadiums, destination casinos and a half-penny sales tax to support construction at Miami Dade College and Florida International University.

Read more here.