Legislators and stakeholders discuss future of federal courthouse

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Senator Marco Rubio has joined the fight to keep the federal courthouse in Northwest Florida.

Rubio and Congressman Neal Dunn met with local legal and business stakeholders this week at the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.

In December, it was announced that the lease on the current downtown building would not be renewed when it expires in December 2018, which means if another location isn't secured, the services could be moved to Pensacola or Tallahassee.

Dunn said Wednesday he and Rubio plan to petition their colleagues in Washington D.C. and officials with the General Services Administration (GSA). He added it's crucial to keep the courthouse central to the district's six counties, although he's unsure if it will remain in Panama City.

"If a witness is going to testify in a trial, we can't compel him or her to go more than 100 miles so we might not be able to get witnesses in federal court," Dunn said about the consequences of not having a federal courthouse in Northwest Florida.

Jackson County officials have communicated with the GSA in hopes of bringing the federal court back to their county.

Dunn believes they'll find a solution that won't cost any more than the current lease, which he said is always a good thing for taxpayers.


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