LIVE OAK, Fla. — Heading into his first term in office, District 10 Representative Chuck Brannan knows a lot of what he’ll be working on once the legislative session begins in March will be dictated by his committee assignments.
Still, the Republican from Macclenny, who serves the district that includes Hamilton and Suwannee counties, has co-sponsored one resolution already and he also voiced his frustration with the continued wastewater spills in Valdosta, Ga., that lead to health concerns in North Florida.
“It ought to be a huge concern for the entire state,” Brannan said of the sewage issues in Valdosta where twice in December heavy rains led to wastewater spills into the Withlacoochee River.
“I don’t want to use poor language, but I’m definitely aggravated by it.”
Brannan said it figures to be a topic of discussion at the various legislative delegation hearings across the district — which includes Suwannee County on Monday and Hamilton County next Wednesday — adding he’s already discussed the issue with officials in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Speaker of the House, Jose Oliva.
“We have to fight and do whatever we can,” he said, noting it is complicated by the fact that Valdosta lies outside the state. “We want to get everybody on the same page. We need everybody to get on their soap boxes.”
Brannan said that includes the DEP, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Suwannee River Water Management District as well as looking into what continues to cause the issues in Valdosta and what potential solutions are.
If necessary, Brannan said the state needs to be ready for a serious fight, one that could lead to federal court similar to the battle over the water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin.
“We have to figure out what the issues are, and what’s in the pipeline, no pun intended,” he said. “We’re worried down here about people’s septic tanks and what is coming out of it and here we have an entire city’s sewage system spilling into the river.”
As he heads into his first session, Brannan is also looking to clean up the way constitutional amendments are proposed to voters. He has co-sponsored a bill with Cord Byrd (R-Neptune Beach), Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) and Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) that would eliminate the bundling of subjects in proposed amendments, noting Amendment 9 in November banned both offshore drilling for gas and oil as well as using e-cigarettes and vaping devices indoors.
“I didn’t like it and I heard a lot of complaints about it,” he said.
While those issues are among Brannan’s concerns heading into the session, he also is preparing for the work that will come as part of his committee assignments, which include the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. Brandon will also serve on the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee, the Children, Family and Seniors Subcommittee and the Judiciary Committee.