State senator from South Florida proposes new home for capital

Sen. Kevin Rader seeks study of moving capital to central Florida

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
AP Photo/Phil Sears

Florida's new and old Capitol buildings reside in Tallahassee, but if a South Florida lawmaker gets his way, the state capital would move farther south.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - A state senator from South Florida has re-initiated the long-running debate about whether to move the state capital from Tallahassee.

Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Boca Raton, filed a bill Tuesday to study the possibility of moving the capital from its current location to central Florida.

SB 112 seeks to have the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability conduct a study regarding the relocation of the state capital.

The bill asks the OPPAGA to consider ease of travel to the state capital for the public, the cost of travel for members of the Legislature and the economic impact to the Tallahassee area as a result of relocation.

Rader, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, proposed similar legislation during the 2019 session, but it never made it to committee.

Another South Florida lawmaker, former state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, proposed a measure to explore relocating the capital in 2018, but it also went nowhere.

 

Tallahassee has been Florida's capital city since 1824, when it was still a U.S. territory. Tallahassee was chosen because it was roughly halfway between St. Augustine, the former East Florida capital, and Pensacola, the former West Florida capital.

South Florida has since become the state's most populated region, along with Orlando and the Tampa Bay area, all south of the current capital.

Florida voters rejected a referendum in 1900 to relocate the capital.

Another push to move the capital came about in the late 1960s, ultimately leading to the creation of a new state Capitol building that opened in 1977. The old Capitol building, which sits in front of the new Capitol, was preserved and is now a museum.

Rader's bill calls for the OPPAGA to submit a detailed report of its findings to the Senate president and speaker of the House by Dec. 15, 2021.

Attempts to reach Rader for comment were unsuccessful.

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