Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Duncan is not just dealing with constituents and problems that exist on the 10.8-mile island where he lives.
Although Longboat Key continues to be his top priority, he has also taken on a regional role with the ManaSota League of Cities.
Chosen by the Longboat Key Town Commission as the town’s ManaSota League delegate for the past two years, Duncan was also selected to lead the organization as its president in November after he ran several meetings when the league’s former president was unable to do so.
Duncan and the league are wrapping up the busiest time of the year, which involves trips to Tallahassee, Washington, D.C., and offices of several legislators in the U.S. House and Senate to lobby for legislation that affects local cities and counties.
“We’re an advocacy group that advocates for legislation that affects member cities and towns, including Longboat Key,” Duncan said. “Member cities determine the legislative priorities we create.”
At its March 10 quarterly meeting at Sarasota City Hall, the league reviewed an update on its legislative priority progress, including updates on two issues that barrier island officials are watching closely.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation last week that will provide relief to Floridians faced with steep rate hikes for flood insurance premiums. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bipartisan bill. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which the House already passed with a vote of 306-91, also provides long-term certainty to the real estate market and relief to homeowners who bought their homes after the current flood insurance law took effect in 2012. Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, called the bill “a victory for thousands of struggling homeowners in Sarasota and Manatee counties.”
“It’s going to the Senate floor soon, and we’re keeping a close eye on it,” Duncan said. “We had a great meeting with Congressman Buchanan and his staff, and we feel good about it.”
The ManaSota League is also monitoring a vacation rental bill that would restore control of vacation rental restrictions to local municipalities. A 2011 law prohibits municipalities from regulating short-term rentals unless the municipality has an ordinance giving it the grandfathered right to do so — as Longboat Key does.
Although SB 356 would not impact Longboat Key because of its grandfathered ordinance, the bill would restore control of rental restrictions to local officials in the cities of Holmes Beach, Anna Maria and Venice.
It has been a busy legislative priority season for Duncan, who flew to Washington, D.C., in February to hold several meetings with federal officials, only to be stranded during a winter storm. He has also held meetings with local legislators and traveled to Tallahassee to lobby on behalf of the league.
Duncan, a retired pharmaceutical executive, said he has embraced his new role.
“I like getting out and trying to sell things,” Duncan said. “Lobbying for our local region for what we want and need is just an extension of my former career that I enjoy.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]