With term limits forcing her out of the state House after 2020, state Rep. Holly Raschein is looking to deliver on her goals of helping the Florida Keys and the state’s environment as a whole.
But the Representative from House District 120 also knows the Legislature has several polarizing bills to attend to this Session, including an effort to require parental consent prior to a minor undergoing an abortion. She says she hopes lawmakers will still find time to focus on other areas where there is broader agreement.
“Those more controversial issues will kind of take away from the other things like, for example, what I’m working on with the environmental budget,” Raschein said.
“But those are just a part of life, I guess, and part of the process. And I hope that the tenor of the debate will be respectful and we won’t be stuck on the floor for hours on end and that people will respect our time there.”
As Raschein referenced, she was a strong supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to secure $625 million of environmental funding during the 2019 Session.
The Governor has said he hopes to retain that funding level for each year throughout his first term, and Raschein is looking to deliver on those efforts in 2020.
“That’s my goal and I haven’t heard otherwise that we’re reversing that direction,” Raschein said.
“Over the last year or so, the Governor has really made the environment a priority. And that’s been really neat to work alongside his team — and obviously with the Senate as well — and pass historic levels of funding for water resources and water projects.”
Raschein chairs the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. Her district covers the Keys in Monroe County, as well as parts of southern Miami-Dade County.
Given the geographic uniqueness of her district, it’s no surprise the environment will once again be a key priority as Raschein looks to wrap her time in the Florida House.
“I’ve worked hard to really be bipartisan and work across the aisle. You know, with the environment, everybody loves clean water, beautiful parks and clean beaches. So my issue hasn’t really been controversial or partisan.”
In that arena, Raschein is also looking to secure additional funding for projects in the Keys under the Florida Keys Stewardship Act.
That measure, approved in 2016, allows money to be directed to the region for its critical lands and ecosystem.
“The Florida Keys Stewardship Act could fund up to $20 million for the Florida Keys,” Raschein explained.
“Last year, I brought home $6 million. This year I’m hoping to bring home more than that.”
Raschein also touted work on another Keys-specific measure (HB 587) which would put the state on the hook for half of compensation packages paid out due to takings cases.
Those cases results from the limit on permits in environmentally-sensitive areas of the Keys, which can sometimes lead to reclassification of certain parcels of property. That means purchasers who planned to use a parcel for one purpose can get shut out if the land is re-designated for another purpose.
That has resulted in court action in the past. Given the state’s decision to limit those available permits, Raschein wants to ensure they foot the cost of resulting legal bills.
“What is does, is it puts into statute — and very formally so — saying the state of Florida is going to be Monroe County’s partner should these takings cases come our way.”
With term limits staring her down, Raschein also spoke about what she has in mind after her time in the House comes to a close.
“It’s like 95% super exciting and then like 5% a little terrifying,” Raschein said of her as-of-now uncertain future.
That immediate future doesn’t seem to include another political run.
“I don’t know that I’m going to run for office again anytime soon. I feel like this has been a good go at it and I feel like the universe is pushing me to do something else.”
She told Florida Politics she hopes that “something else” includes involvement in the state government to some capacity.
“I don’t know that I want to go on the outside yet. I’ve been working for the state of Florida since I was 22 years old,” Raschein said.
“I’d certainly like to still stay in the environmental world because I feel like that’s where my strengths are. But we’ll see. I’m keeping all of my options open.”