TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tallahassee has been Florida's capital city since before statehood, but new legislation calls for a study of moving the Capitol building and the Florida Supreme Court to "a location in Central Florida."
Here's five questions posed and answered regarding the move, including how Tallahassee got to be the state capitol in the first place.
1) Why has the legislation been filed?
The bill, SB 112, is the brainchild of Sen. Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton), one of scores of lawmakers forced to travel hundreds of miles to attend legislative sessions and interim committee meetings in the state's remote capital city.
For them, a more centralized Capitol would ease what is now a lengthy and sometimes quite costly commute.
2) What would the proposed study entail?
The study would survey the costs involved in moving the Capitol and Supreme Court to Central Florida, including the price tag associated with the construction of a new Capitol building.
It would also size up any economic consequences for Tallahassee, where the workforce is dominated by state employees and contractors.
3) Why was Tallahassee chosen as the state capital, anyway?
When Florida formed a territorial government in the early 1820s, the population centers were Pensacola and St. Augustine.
Legislative sessions were initially held in both cities, with each alternating as host from one year to the next. Because they bookended a Panhandle hundreds of miles in length and travel from one city to the other was a treacherous journey that took weeks, a decision was made to select a location between the two as the territory's singular capital.
In 1824, Tallahassee was selected as that place.
4) Why was a new Capitol building built in the 1970s?
Despite the inexorable southward march of Florida's population center in the 20th century, there was little interest in moving the state capital southward, as well.
In fact, in the mid-1970s, construction of a new, contemporary Capitol building was completed. The project was made possible by the influence of the 'Pork Chop Gang', a group of powerful Panhandle politicians who controlled state government at that time.
5) Is this the first time moving the Capitol has been proposed?
No. Legislation was filed last legislative session to study moving the Capitol to Orlando (versus the more germane "Central Florida" in the new bill). Furthermore, during a debate over building the new Capitol in the 1970s, Sen. Lee Weissenborn of Miami-Dade County pushed to relocate the Capitol to Orlando.
He lost his fight, but won a consolation prize: a tongue-in-cheek plaque near the new Capitol's first floor elevator bank saluting his "valiant" effort as "the prime motivation for construction of this building."