There’s no time like the present for Rep. Mike La Rosa, who will go to Tallahassee this fall and winter to represent District 42 and east-central Osceola County in the state House of Representatives. La Rosa, a real estate agent in his St. Cloud “day job”, won election to the House for the fourth time in 2018 — his final term there thanks to state-mandated term limits. His last legislative session — what the former Celebration School baseball player calls “a chance to leave it all on the field” — will be slightly unique, as it begins in earnest in January, a little earlier in an election cycle year. La Rosa, who chairs the House Commerce Committee — a high percentage of bills and other legislation passes through it — will go to Tallahassee this fall for a period of committee planning in order to hit the ground running come January.
“We’ll do all our prep work this fall, which is the planning phase for the session,” he said at a Wednesday morning sit-down with Positively Osceola. “In Florida we just have a 60-day session, so we need to have efficient agendas.
“It’s my final year in the House, so I want to make sure some of the things I’ve put a lot of time into will get done.”
La Rosa said he’ll be working with the House to make Florida a breeding ground for new business opportunities, support de-regulation of industries that don’t need such stringing regulation anymore, manage Osceola County’s (and Florida’s) growth in a smart manner, and champion education as, “Our best form of economic development.”
“Most of my ideas for legislation come from voters and constituents,” La Rosa said.
He said he expects the 2020 session to be more productive than 2019, when the Legislature and new Gov. Ron DeSantis were still getting used to each other.
“The governor comes with a very balanced approach between local and state initiatives,” La Rosa said. “The bills he vetoed sent a message. I’m looking forward to this session, we’ll get more done.”
As a business owner himself, La Rosa said eliminating regulations on business will create more opportunities and competition.
“By de-regulating industries when such stringent rules aren’t needed anymore, we should see Florida become a breeding ground for new businesses, where that’s been California, or Texas, or the Northeast being the place to go to create things. So we’re working to change the status quo,” he said. “In some industries, like interior designers, let’s lower the threshold of regulations we don’t need anymore. We live in a world of change and government needs to be aware of that.”
Florida, and Osceola County — it was named the 10th fastest growing county in the U.S. a couple years ago by Forbes Magazine — have seen that change in population growth, and La Rosa said action must back up awareness and talk.
“A lot of folks are coming from the Northeast — the numbers were up to 1,000 day,” he said. “It’s warm, our low tax structure and minimal regulations have a lot to do with that. At the same time we have to grow efficiently and effectively. When we look at residential developments or commercial land uses. That doesn’t happen overnight.
“That should have been thought of five, seven, 10 years prior. Cities need to create a 20, 25-year-vision, they have to be innovative and constantly update that vision for business and transportation growth.”
With growth comes new schools, and Osceola County has shown off two new innovative ones over the last two schools years in the STEM-heavy Tohopekaliga High School and the tech-savvy NeoCity Academy.
“Those two are a reflection of a reaction to what parents want in their schools, and those parents know their children best,” La Rosa said. “The response has been an investment in young people for a work force we need for tomorrow.”