Your 2020 Legislative Update, Week 1 of Committee Meetings
This week wraps up our first series of Committee Meetings for the 2020 Legislative Session. Because 2020 is an election year, Legislative Session will begin in January versus March, meaning that Committee Meetings have already started.
Scroll down for your update from Week 1 of Committee Meetings as we prep for the 2020 Legislative Session. I also encourage you to visit our member profile page to see the full list of bills we have filed and co-sponsored so far. More to come!
TAKING ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We are proud to re-file legislation that would bring Florida into the future by setting a renewable energy goal of 100% by 2050. HB97/SB256 is key to taking on climate change, and to kickstart this legislation we hosted a press conference in Tallahassee last week. You can watch the full press conference here and see articles below.
And on Friday we joined the global #ClimateStrike in Downtown Orlando supporting worldwide efforts to combat climate change. Hundreds gathered in Orlando and millions around the world. I have never felt more hopeful to take on climate change than I do today.
If you didn’t catch my recent op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel on climate change, you can find it here.
SENATE HOSTS HEARING ON MASS SHOOTINGS
On Monday the Florida Senate hosted a hearing within the Infrastructure and Security Committe focused on mass shootings. This Committee is chaired by Senator Tom Lee, and panelists included experts in the fields of law enforcement and mental health. There was criticism that the panel of experts did not include people of color, and the conversation tended to stay away from the regulation of guns. You can watch the whole three hour hearing at this link.
We were proud to see Moms Demand Action volunteers along with other advocacy groups in attendance. Senator Tom Lee was quoted by the Tampa Bay Times as saying better gun background checks “makes sense” — a promising notion for what feels like a legislature of inaction when it comes to common sense gun safety legislation. You can read more here about the new grassroots pressure in Florida to see policy change on guns.
We also wanted to give a quick shoutout to House District 47 constituent and Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf who testified to conference this week for federal gun safety legislation. You can watch his full testimony here.
FLORIDA’S BUDGET OUTLOOK
According to state economists, Florida’s Long-Range Economic Outlook is bleak, trending $867 million lower over the next two years than expected. According to Florida Politics, “Hurricanes from 2016 to 2018 and global macroeconomic uncertainty is driving this, as does a softness in the residential construction market.” You can read more here.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING & TINY HOMES
During our Local, Federal, and Veterans Affairs Sub-Committee Meeting the focus of discussion was affordable housing. Two organizations provided in-depth presentations, and there was an emphasis by myself for the legislature to examine the experience of renters when it comes to affordable housing, and to not rob the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds. You can watch the whole committee meeting at this link.
Later that day, another House Committee hosted a panel discussion on tiny homes. As you may already know, last legislative session we sponsored legislation to define tiny homes in Florida law, with the hope that the adoption of tiny homes by the Florida Building Commission would lead to more local governments passing tiny home ordinances. Though our bill never saw a hearing, we were thrilled to learn last month that tiny homes will be added to the 2020 Florida Building Commission Code, and last week’s panel discussion added even more momentum to the topic. Click here to listen to that panel discussion, too.
While in Tallahassee, we also visited a tiny home community called The Dwellings in Tallahassee! This is a low-barrier housing program for individuals who struggle to find or maintain housing. You can learn more about The Dwellings here.
SUPPORTING EQUALITY IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
We are proud to stand in support of the Competitive Workforce Act (CWA), legislation that would ban LGBTQ discrimination in Florida. This legislation has incredible bi-partisan support, and we are hopeful for a bill hearing in 2020.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND FLORIDA’S PRISON SYSTEM
Our legislative team has been diving deep into the criminal justice system by working on bipartisan policy solutions to reduce mass incarceration while also working with families of the incarcerated and the Department of Corrections on eliminating abuse within our state prison system.
We have a long way to go, and yesterday made a surprise visit to Lowell Correctional Institution, the largest state prison for women in Florida, to see prison conditions and speak to inmates, including those who are pregnant. Afterwards we participated in a community town hall in Ocala focused on the criminal justice system.
CELEBRATING PEACE DAY
Earlier on Saturday we stopped by Peace Day in the Park. Hosted in Winter Park by the Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute (PJI), this was a beautiful and powerful gathering of Central Floridians all celebrating peace. I am proud to be a longtime member of the PJI Advisory Board, and to be supporting these efforts.
If you haven’t read PJI’s principles of respect and community building, you can at this link.
That’s it for our Week 1 of Committee Meetings update! Remember that we are hosting a Diaper Drive this week, and that I will be out of town for the United Nations Climate Change Summit! You can always reach us by replying to this email, or by contacting our legislative office directly.
Representative Anna V. Eskamani
PS: When someone at a Tallahassee coffee shop asks you to hold their kitten, you say yes!