Rick Roth, West Palm Beach native and vegetable farmer, has completed his first year in the Florida Legislature serving the 85th district. He discusses his first year as a representative and his plans for his second year serving Florida.
Roth says he found the legislative process to be very exciting. “It was an information party,” he says. As a vegetable farmer who is passionate about the issues faced by Florida’s agriculture community, policy and political information have always been Roth’s main interests. He says that he has been political all his life, so public office seemed to be a good fit for him.
Roth’s main goals going into his first year were to learn the process and how to be a team player. He believes he achieved those goals. He learned that when speaking up, less is more. “I was a quiet, studied legislator,” Roth says.
The biggest surprise he found during his first year was how much information there was to consider and how quickly it was thrown at him. The amount of material to consider or memorize as a legislator may seem intimidating, but Roth handled it well. “The good thing about being a first-year is you get to kind of take a backseat, ask some key questions, make some key votes, but don’t get out in front and try to be someone big and important,” Roth explains. He notes that asking plenty of questions helped him get through his first year.
It is no secret that Florida agriculture took a big hit this legislative season. “It was a very interesting year for me,” Roth says. Florida’s agriculture industry faced the Legislature with issues regarding the budget, water, land conservation and more. However, Roth offers a glimmer of hope for the industry. He says agriculture is an incredibly influential group from the Legislature’s perspective and industry leaders may need to think about getting involved way ahead of the sessions to get their issues to the forefront. “The earlier they get involved, the better off they’ll be,” Roth advises.
He is already looking ahead to his second year on the Florida Legislature while working on a couple new bills this summer. This time last year, Roth chose not to formulate new legislation, but focus on the bad legislation instead. “As an old farmer, I went (to Tallahassee) to kill bad legislation,” Roth says. He adds that he is proud to say that he did have a hand in killing a number of toxic bills this past year.
Roth says he is thankful for his fellow legislators who helped him get through his first year in the Florida Legislature. “It was very much a learning year,” Roth says. He encourages business owners and growers to make relationships with the legislators or to enter public office themselves. “We need more business owners in the Legislature,” he says.
Roth is proud to serve in the Florida Legislature and he is looking forward to next year. “If you’re a farmer and you live in Florida, this is as good as it gets,” he concludes.
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