State Rep. Bill Hager, pointing to travel costs for Floridians, wants the state to consider moving the Capitol from Tallahassee, its hometown since 1824.
Hager, R-Delray Beach, filed a proposal Monday (HB 1335) that would establish a task force to look at options for relocating the Capitol building, executive-branch offices and the Legislature. Among the charges for the task force to consider would be the ease of travel for the public, the cost for lawmakers for interim committee weeks and the 60-day regular session and the economic impact on Tallahassee and Leon County.
While relocating Cabinet offices — agriculture commissioner, attorney general and chief financial officer — would be on the table, moving the state agencies under the officers isn't. Nor is the state Supreme Court mentioned in the proposal.
Hager's bill, which does not have a Senate companion, is filed for the legislative session that started Tuesday. Tallahassee was selected as the territorial capital in 1824, as it was the midway point at the time between the state's two principal cities — St. Augustine and Pensacola, according to the Florida Department of State. Florida voters in 1900 rejected a referendum to relocate the capital.
In 1969, when plans were advanced to build a new Capitol, a debate on relocation surfaced but never made it to the ballot. In 1972, the Legislature agreed to build the 22-story Capitol building that stands behind the Old Capitol.
A tribute by North Florida lawmakers was placed inside the first floor to the late Florida Sen. Lee Weissenborn, who represented Miami-Dade County and in 1967 pushed for a commission to study moving the state capital to Orlando.
“This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Weissenborn, whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for construction of this building,” said the marker inside the building, which opened in 1977.