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It’s Time to Talk About Moving Florida’s Capital

January 29, 2018 - 6:45pm

I recently introduced legislation in the Florida House to start the process of moving the Capital to better serve Floridians - for the next 500 years.  Tallahassee was the right place for Florida’s Capital 150 years ago, when the state’s center was between Pensacola and Jacksonville. That criteria (the state’s center) still applies today. 

My bill is simple.  It calls for: (1) a study commission to identify a better location; (2) moving only the piece of government that people want in person access to - the Legislature and the Cabinet and (3) keeping the state agencies and 99 percent of the jobs in Tallahassee, given e-communications. 

A lot has changed in 150+ years. The state and its population has changed dramatically.   That is why it is time to move the Capital.

·         First, Florida’s Capital does not belong to a town or a county or a university or a region.  It belongs to the people of the state of Florida.

 ·         Access is Currently Denied:  A radius consisting of about three-hours of driving time around Tallahassee encompasses about 3 million Floridians. That same radius around Orlando encompasses about 15 million Floridians.

 ·         The only people today that can afford to come to the Capital to meet with the Legislature from outside the region are: (1) the wealthy; (2) the lobbyists; and (3) trade groups on their day at the Capital.  This is due to the overwhelming time and cost involved in visiting Tallahassee, with airfare sometimes as much as $900 for a one-way ticket or that of flying the length of Florida and three states north of Florida - just to get to the Capital.

 ·         To put this issue of proximity into perspective, I was visited in Tallahassee recently by a group of students with disabilities from my district.  Their trip is typical: it included rumbling in a van ten hours each way for two days, spending the night in a Tallahassee hotel, all to visit my committee to testify for 15 minutes on legislation.

 ·         Because of the current location of the Capital, people are in fact denied access to their government and that is wrong.

·         Scandal: Studies show that isolated Capitals are associated with corruption and scandal due to an “out of sight” mentality. With the slew of sexual harassment and misconduct claims against several Florida state Senators, it is time we move the Capital closer to the people.

·         Cost: Under my proposal, only the Legislature and the Cabinet move and the cost is minimal – a one-time cost of less than 1/4 of 1 percent of the annual budget (0.0025).  I say the cost of giving people access to their government is priceless.  

·         Be Bold.  Tallahassee politicians will act only when Floridians demand action.  The Capital is yours. Demand access to your government. 


State Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, was first elected to the Florida House in 2012. 


What's needed is good passenger rail interconnecting the secondary and primary FL cities, with really fun, clean, tourist & business-person friendly passenger cars, complete with small conference tables, dining cars, power, and no extra cost gigabit WiFi. It doesn't have to be high speed rail right off the bat. Let tourists discover old FL towns that really could use an economic boost. Those "rural" destinations could offer family friendly meals, small hotels and great outdoor recreation, all along the routes. Provide economical recreation spots for hard working city workers. Interconnect destinations that have different things to offer. Appeal to all ages, not just 55+. Yes, that means adding whatever features and options that appeal to millennials. Move volumes of people all over FL comfortably with great ease. Politicians could work 'n ride, be on the ground in FL for a few hours, vs up in the skyscrapers all the time. Staff could afford to go along and still get the necessary office work done. Staff could commute home more during session, staying connected all along the route. Perhaps if politicians all had a day out of the office once in a while, enjoying zipping around FL on the ground they would all have more "respect" for this vast and great state! They could enjoy meeting up with fellow politicians along the way, and mingle with a broad cross section of actual voters getting on and off at the various stops. Perhaps by slowing down just a bit and enjoying the trips they could govern with a wiser and steadier hand. Fl also needs much better commuter air service. In CA you can go from San Diego to San Francisco round trip for under $120. And CA is a big state! The last thing FL needs right now is a construction stimulus, and state capital buildings are not cheap! Someone spoke of 30 year bonds as if that is all cost free, all I can say is "wow man", that's the ultimate in fake news! A dollar of taxpayer money spent today is exactly that; if you pay it off over 30 years its much MORE than a dollar. Taxpayer money is never free. Thinking like that is really warped. If you are going to blow $200m in FL for development (and that estimate is way low, covers the "bricks" only, not any of the soft costs) do something outside ag and tourism that has a long-term (30+ yr) economic benefits. Yes, high tech manufacturing jobs would be good! Build up the FL university to local business partnerships, tech transfer, and job development. Kids in FL want good jobs, family friendly incomes. Beaches are beautiful and fun but you can't make a living there. FL is living off imported boomer retirement savings accounts like the middle east was living off a rich supply oil. Boomer retirements and Micky Mouse vacations have lasted a good long time, but will not go on (and up) forever. Invest for the long term - less politics, less government - more long-term international competitiveness for FL residents. News flash, as boomers die off if there is anything left of the retirement savings it goes to the kids who are working hard NOT IN FL. All that retirement spending in FL dries up very rapidly. Then the condo and time shares go on the market all at once... Changing where politicians go and sit is little more than playing "Ring Around the Rosie". Lots of confusion and laughs, but very little actually accomplished. Time and money spent, but in the end nothing to show for it.

In this era of fast inter-connectivity, why have anyone in Tallahassee at all. Politicians can debate and vote using Skype, or other video conferencing methods. Why is it that important to be there in person. Leave it there. The only reason I go there is to visit my daughter and her State Trooper husband.

makes too much sense, which is why it will never happen...

DOA . . . . . the very fact that your proposal would not move state government, but simply split its functions between Tallahassee and Orlando points out its insanity (and naive understanding of how the Legislature and government actually works - unless of course you want no legislative hearings to find out facts from agency heads and staff who would have to travel constantly to meet your needs) . . . . . . not to mention its multi-billion dollar cost (not the $200 million you proposed - how much will a new Capitol and both houses of the Legislature, plus Cabinet and new support facilities all cost to build?). . . . . . "only the Legislature and the Cabinet move " - gee, I thought they all had a number of staff, and that the Cabinet members had agencies to run that will remain in Tallahassee, so this proposal will involve agency heads and staff constantly having to run down to Orlando to get their work and legislative support done . . . . . . . and of course, this makes a lot of sense if the other two branches of government (Governor's Office and Supreme Court) are remaining in Tallahassee, right . . . . . . . . plus, you'll guarantee with your reputation and family's worldly fortune that moving to Orlando will eliminate all corruption and sexual harassment that you believe exists due to the Tallahassee location . . . . . . . yeah, right . . . . . . . . . by the way, just how far is Pensacola from Orlando? . . . . . . . . . . . . just more partisan truthiness . . . . . . this proposal can't pass muster in any non-partisan meaningful Benefit/Cost analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . to state otherwise is simply a lie and absolutely . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC

No cost????? The next time there is a committee meeting and an agency head or subject matter expert is need to supply needed information they won't be responding in a matter of hours but days. Travel costs will sky rocket and if rooms cost more than $150 a night, state employees can't travel. Don't fooled by this fool.

It's an interesting idea with practical concerns. After reading the other comments, I think a "virtual" solution would be more appropriate. I am a native Floridian who has always found the people at the other end of the phone in Tally to be polite and helpful. I only traveled there when my son was at FSU. It is a VERY long drive from West Palm Beach and arduous for folk from the keys. Improving travel would actually be better for the panhandle and encourage South Floridians who want to be more involved in their state to explore the rich history and beauty of the area. Because we are such a long state, electronic solutions would be more accessible to more citizens and those who want to travel to the capital should be able to via more modern means. The recent "high speed" train is a step in the right direction. Trains were very important to the development of our state and they can be a very good solution as long as the wildlife corridors are protected. I think an exploratory panel could be tasked with pricing out various solutions to help our citizens be more engaged. Thank you for opening this discussion.

SO lets put a study commission together and decide Tampa or Orlando, where traffic is already clogged to the point that people are ready to shoot themselves and others on I-4 every single day? Yeah right. The Legislature should be smart and work with the corrupt city of Tallahassee and find ways to bring down exorbitant airline travel costs to and from Tallahassee. That fixes 50% of the purported problem. If Tallahassee to Miami was $199 a person, then we would be having this conversation, and there would be 4X the number of flights coming in and out of the Tallahassee airport. Much more access. The state has too much sunk cost in Tallahassee in buildings, personnel and infrastructure.

Jacksonville area would be best and fairest. Sits equidistant between both ends of Fla, and has int’l airport.

Wow,...that "move" could provide a whole new political support cadre of innocent, young, supple, nubility, who have no idea of what "political sexual harassment" is even comprised of...

Florida has so much money we want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to move the state government apparatus to some (unnamed) location elsewhere in the state to make it more accessible to those in South Florida? Limiting the move to the legislature and the cabinet only? That sounds like a political promise designed to make it easier to get the legislation passed and we can then forget about the arguments made prior to passage. I can make a phone call or send an email and voice an opinion. I have been in Tallahassee numerous times and never able (or tried very hard (to visit) any legislator as they are busy, away from their desk, otherwise occupied, etc. No doubt, Mr. Hager would spend more time at home in South Florida if we move the capital to Orlando—although anyone who has visited Orlando on business would never want to go back there and fight the traffic, construction and congestion again if it can be avoided. Personal convenience does not sound like a good rationale for spending millions to uproot the current system and move further south. If he is really concerned, splitting the state makes more sense. No doubt, priorities and values in South Florida are different and everyone would likely be happier to moving the capital.

Matters not where in the state you designate as the capitol... It will be at least a 5 hour drive from either Pensacola or Key West. Moving the capitol is not necessary today with the ability to have sessions and committee meetings televised or streamed IF the legislature wanted. Access by the citizens ..... Well there are these things called telephones and computers that allow access directly to legislators and agencies. People just need to use them and the legislators and agencies need to understand that cold bureaucratic responses only PISS OFF citizens. Finally, Scandals will occur no matter where the capitol is located. People need to either change their actions and / or be more accepting of the fact that humans do things which are not appropriate in everyone's eyes.

YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT BILL,.... LET'S MOVE FLORIDA'S CAPITOL TO....JERUSALEM !!!!!!!! (It's NOT where you "work",.. It's what you DO while you're there...) and after 150 years, we ALL know something is WRONG in Tallahassee... "South Florida" is slowly, but steadily, corrupting the entire State of Florida (formerly, the "Orange State", and sadly now "FlorRicoStan") ! The "Two State Solution" becomes more viable EVERY DAY !

This whiny complaining about access is a cover for something. What nonsense. Historically Tallahassee is our Capital. In the old days, legislators from down south had to come here by ship and then horse drawn wagons or horseback. They didn't object to travel. Florida citizens have plenty of access to their government by email, phone, letter and I assure you they use it. They can watch everything on TV or The Florida Channel live everyday during session. During session there is hardly a day that the capital is not OVERRUN with citizens from all over the state who didn't have a problem getting here. They clog the rotunda, the halls and the plaza. If you don't want to travel, don't run for the legislature.

Why don't you look at your own issues first? Try making State Legislators available to the voters, outside of canned speeches, and 3 minute town hall meeting comments. When ALL Senators start meeting with any voter who wants to talk to you, instead of just giving lobbyists appointments, then you can talk about moving the Capitol. Oh, and you cut state employee numbers, so there aren't enough folks to do the job, much less reply to email or answer the phone!

The capital being far away was only a problem in the days when the fastest transportation was by horse. If you were really forward thinking, you'd embrace the communication at light speed that technology has brought us.

I have a better idea. Course I am not a politician with nothing else to do. Why not admit defeat and split the state in two? Ocala would be bout right altho Gainesville might be better. We could keep the Gators, the new state called, oh, say. "The Mental Ward" could have FSU. It would be a good fit. It would take a merit based permit and environmental impact fee for anyone to move to the "new" Florida. Three to five day permits will be available. There will be background checks. It does seem as if evereeeeyy

Oops - computer glitch. Damn thing prolly made in China. It does seem as if every true, card carrying screwball lives in South Florida. Altho they are starting to spill over in the northern half of the state. Orlando has long been unfit to live in, with the influx of 300,000 welfare recipients with multiple chillrens that require schooling, bussing and lessons in English it will be worse. Let the Orlando wacko brigade, led by Buddy Dwyer, tax and build new schools. And roads. Oh, I think moving the capital to the new state a capital (sic) idea. We will leave our capital right where it is, you folks build a new one to suit yourselves.

I concur. I think about the capitol and the people it represents, there is a stale vacuum of space. I for one have needed to call state agencies in Tallahassee, and found that they are out of touch with the needs and lack the capacity to properly address the needs due to their unfamiliarity with our city's needs, conditions and respectfully the politicians that represent us like a "status quo" ( especially south Florida) . The clerical staff are senile and out of touch, not familiar with the offices they represent, Relocation, young clerks and staff with new enthusiasm is needed to reinvigorate the archaic way Florida is run within the inner sanctions not just our leaders. Moving them closer to more central area allows the state to become integral with the needs of all cities and counties and the constituents that are otherwise ill-served due to the expense to reach the capital currently.

So let me see if I understand this. We re-calibrate, I presume on census data, to ascertain the geographical center of the state and break out the shovels. By that rationale then folks in Key West are disenfranchised by keeping it so distant for those residents to access.. The bigger question ignored is who is going to pay for the land, buildings, furnishings, equipment and attendant relocation costs. Yep, we the taxpayers. If Cali can have their capital 550 miles away from San Diego and survive, why can't we? And think of all the local businesses that depend on state government to exist from dry cleaners to restaurants who will go belly up. Don't these citizens matter? Leave well enough alone. How about focusing on reigning in unsustainable entitlements instead?

No taxpayer moneys ! Sell bonds 30 year maturity compounded interest for 5 year terms

YEAH,...So let's use that TAX MONEY to build another "Football Stadium" (or two); maybe even hire another "Visit Florida crew" for another $30mill a year to teach us how to make popular Florida even MORE popular; or even hire "supposed experts" to teach us how to grow ORANGES; OR, we could "dole it all out" to "entitlement leeches" illegally invading our State borders, escaping areas they've already destroyed, and screwed up!!! YEAH,..THAT'S THE TICKET ! ! !

'sounds like a plan...please no Orlando. The traffic is horrendous with endless construction!!! The Ocala area would be good equidistant from Pensacola and Miami

Orlando is a "politicians' Hog-Wallow", NEVER to be reformed... And you "Orlandons" just keep on voting in the worst of the worst (like Demings and Murphy)....WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN?

I live in Fort Lauderdale. It costs more money to fly to Tallahassee, than New York City.

another politician trying to change History...Its been in Tallahassee...150 yrs or longer...Leave It There and WORK ON policies you were sent there to Crime n Drugs in Florida ...

Give me a break.. Your rationale would move Washington DC to Topeka Kansas. Your very attitude demonstrates the ethos of the career politician as opposed to the representative of the citizens. Get a Life!

And just where do you propose the "new capital" be moved to? Orlando, Tampa, St Pete, Jacksonville? No matter where the capital is people will have to travel a good distance except those within a few miles of it. Oh, and scandals will follow no matter where it is. People do not change just because they moved to a different city.

This is indeed the right move.

Comments are now closed.


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