Despite not returning to Tallahassee for anymore Legislative sessions because he’s reached the maximum number of terms in the House of Representatives, State Rep. Mike La Rosa is still working for the constituents of District 42.

And with the coronavirus pandemic, which was building as the session ended in mid-March, there’s plenty to work for — business owners trying to pick up the pieces of their life’s work, and furloughed and laid-off employees trying to get their re-employment assistance from a beleaguered state system.

“It’s a very unique situation, definitely not the way I expected by eighth and final session to end,” La Rosa said during a Positively Osceola online forum Monday.

La Rosa is successful in business in Osceola County, working for a family real estate company, and knows the economy won’t improve as fast as it tanked.

“Not until there’s confidence that they’ll be okay eating in a restaurant, or going to a store or visiting an insurance company. We get there through testing as much as possible,” he said. “Florida wasn’t hit as bad by this virus as other places, our numbers are dropping while more people are tested. That’s the key for getting back sometime in the summer and fall without finding a treatment.”

With thousands out of work locally now, navigating the Department of Economic Opportunity’s system and website, bogged down by hundreds of thousands of claims in a couple weeks, is key.

“We have hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents we’re working with to try to get them compensation. The first few weeks were rough when conversion rates were so low,” La Rosa said. “It’s been all hands on deck, we have to focus on getting our constituents help.

“The DEO operates the system, but Gov. DeSantis brought in new leadership to make it work within a week of signs of trouble. He’s looked into what’s gone wrong.”

And while he doesn’t have to go to Tallahassee anymore for sessions (“Part of me wants to go up there and try to fix this,” he said), La Rosa will stay in Osceola County with wife Holly and his three sons and see when and how things improve locally in a tricky market.

“Tourism is the big revenue driver, and without state income tax we rely on property tax and income tax,” he said. “We missed a lot of the Florida spring break. There has to be the confidence to travel. People want to get out, the weather is great, the attraction is great, but the governor didn’t focus on tourism in Phase I. I would expect to see that in Phase II.”