By John Morton
As of March 22, Florida House Bill 923 was still in the midst of being reviewed by the first of three committees to which it has been assigned.
That title is the designation given to Save Siesta Key’s incorporation effort, which entered the Florida Legislature fray on Feb. 17 when state Rep. Fiona McFarland, the bill’s sponsor, formally filed the bill.
A favorable vote from both the state’s House and Senate, and subsequent support from Gov. Ron DeSantis, are required for the bill to move out of the state capitol and back to Siesta Key for a referendum vote.
The legislature vote is likely to take place in late April or early May. Should it pass, a vote by island residents would not take place until the general election in November of 2024.
But first, it was the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee that had a crack at the Siesta Key bill. A positive vote there moves it ahead to another committee — the other two in waiting, should the bill advance, are the Ways and Means Committee and the State Affairs Committee.
Save Siesta Key board members declined comment regarding the process, choosing to let it take its course and await results. The group does have multiple lobbyists in Tallahassee right now, working on its behalf.
Save Siesta Key’s quest to make the island its own municipality began in March of 2021. In January of 2022, the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation voted 3-3 in regard to forwarding the bill to the legislature, killing it.
A year later, the same body (with one new member and three former members no longer involved, due to redistricting) approved the advancement of the bill with a 3-1 vote.
Several decisions by Sarasota County, which governs the Key, fueled the incorporation efforts, its member report. The approval of the mixed-use Siesta Promenade project at U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, along with the dredging of Big Pass to provide sand for Lido Key, are at the forefront.
The county’s approval in the last two years of three large hotels further motivated the Save Siesta Key effort.
You can follow the bill’s progress at flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/923.