PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — State legislators are traveling the panhandle in an effort to hear from residents and city leaders.

Tonight’s Bay County delegation heard from their constituents on topics ranging from funding to homeowners insurance.

There were a wide variety of topics tonight, but the main three were the pedestrian walkway on Beach Drive, insurance rates, and of course funding.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever come up here and asked for money, but tonight I’m going to change that record. We have really a crisis,” said Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Lori Allen.

It was nearly a full house at the Bay County Legislative Delegation pre-session meeting. Representatives from non-profits, municipal officials, and local residents all hope to get a word Monday evening with state representative Griff Griffitts and Senator Jay Trumbull.

Those who spoke had their own agendas.

Several people voiced their displeasure with plans for a pedestrian walkway along Beach Drive in Panama City.

“Sometimes funding without a plan or notice to the public can be problematic. And the Beach Drive, West Beach Drive multi-use path is one of those types of projects,” A Bay County resident said.

“The beach drive walkway has caused some concern for some residents around that part of the world that the money was allocated through the state a couple of years ago. So, the city of Panama City has at it the ability to build that pedestrian walkway or multi-use path,” said (R) Florida Dist. 6 Representative Griff Griffitts.

According to Griffitts, they have the power to stop the project since it’s in their jurisdiction.
Several complained about skyrocketing insurance rates.

“We have to create an environment in the state where insurance companies want to come to do business. We through tort reform, we have given the insurance companies a lot of what they’ve asked for. So, it’s now time for them. To come to the table and honor what they’ve asked for,” Griffitts said.

Griffitts says he wants to lock down tort reform, which is an attempt by the state to make it more difficult for injured victims to file a lawsuit.

A number of elected officials made their pitches for state funding. They have infrastructure projects, to solve issues like flooding and stormwater drainage.

“I’m asking that you would help us continue to build for growth, and we’re focused on infrastructure for that. We know that stormwater is a huge issue in Bay County, and it has been our focus over the past two-plus years,” said Lynn Haven Mayor Jesse Nelson.

“We appreciate the citizens of our county coming out tonight, thank them for their input, and look forward to getting to work for us,” Griffitts said.

Seven weeks of interim committee meetings in the house began Sept. 18. Senate interim committee meetings start early this month. It starts Jan. 9 and is scheduled to end Mar. 8.