State Rep. Matt Willhite (D-District 86) visited the Wellington Village Council Tuesday, June 8 to provide a legislative session update, with a special focus on the new fireworks ban bill designed to protect Wellington’s equestrian area.
Willhite said that it was nice to be getting back to normal in the legislature after a year of social distancing and Zoom-style communications. He missed the interaction with the local community while serving in Tallahassee.
“We didn’t have Palm Beach County Days this year where we can have the Village of Wellington there and have so many of you there to share the festivities and advocate for your interests,” he noted. “This year, we passed a budget that was the largest single budget in the history of the State of Florida at $101.5 billion.”
Willhite explained that 275 pieces of legislation passed out of the 3,500 that were filed. Among those that passed are four that Willhite sponsored, including the fireworks prohibition that will either be signed by the governor or will automatically become law, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
“Hopefully, this fireworks ban will get signed and there will be no problem with it,” he said. “We think it’s a big deal, and, obviously, I think all of you do, too.”
The bill would allow Wellington to prohibit the use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day in the village’s Equestrian Overlay Zoning District. It is designed to protect horses, which are easily spooked by fireworks.
A new law Willhite is particularly proud of has hit close to home.
“My mother was released from Wellington Regional Medical Center on Thanksgiving Day, and they handed her a prescription with no way to fill it on Thanksgiving,” he said. “I thought how a lot of other people have been affected by the rule that says you’re not allowed to take medication with you when you leave the hospital.”
Now, they will be able to dispense a few days of medication when patients leave the hospital if they need them to continue their healthcare.
Willhite said this is especially good if one has visited the emergency room.
“Maybe you’re leaving the emergency room and just can’t stop at the pharmacy,” he said. “It’s two in the morning or you have kids in the car, or you just don’t feel like it right then. You want to go home. You’ll have medicine to take home.”
Another new law is the Purple Alert, which goes along with the already existing Amber Alert and Silver Alert.
This is for people who have memory problems or learning disabilities, brain damage or injuries. If they are lost, this will help them get back to their family as quickly as possible.
After Willhite’s presentation, the only other piece of business was the authorization to allocate additional money in the amount of $75,000 to pay for outside legal counsel for specific cases that involve specialized legal experience. The motion to approve the outside legal fees passed unanimously.
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, June 22 and include a public hearing for the village’s proposed golf cart ordinance.