Our team has been hard at work responding to the COVID19 crisis with a focus on the needs of everyday people. Scroll down to see a quick review of what we’ve been up to, and please remember that tomorrow is the Voter Registration Deadline. Click here to register to vote online, right now! Click here to visit our How To Vote section on our website for more guidance on voting in Florida.
Let us know how else we can support you and your family.
Representative Anna V. Eskamani
UPDATED CENTRAL FLORIDA COVID19 GUIDES
We are proud to provide quick access to COVID19 resources via our website at the links below. These links also include specifics on where you can get tested for COVID19.
We know that Floridans are struggling right now, but we want you to know that you are not alone. Below are a list of crisis hotlines to keep on hand, and to share with others. We are here to serve, and will always do what we can to help.
FLORIDA IS NOW IN PHASE 3
Despite health concerns being expressed by medical experts, Governor Ron DeSantis announced two weeks ago that Florida would be entering Phase 3 in reopening the state, meaning restaurants, bars, salons, and other businesses will be allowed to reopen under full capacity. Local governments will not be able to restrict bars or restaurants to 50 percent capacity anymore, without providing justification and detailing the costs. Click here to read more.
Businesses can still require customers to wear masks, but DeSantis said “all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended.” In response, local elected officials expressed frustration, especially since they were not given advanced notice about the decision of Florida moving into Phase 3. Last week Mayor Jerry Demings shared the following details of how Orange County is interpreting the Governor’s call into Phase 3:
UNEMPLOYMENT & CARES ACT RELIEF
This past week saw more layoffs announced in Central Florida, including 6,700 non-union Disney employees. We continue to remain committed to assisting Floridians with their unemployment claims, and encourage anyone who is facing issues with their unemployment benefits to fill out our DEO Escalation Form here. Please also click here for our newest review of recent unemployment FAQs.
The Tampa Bay Times noted our office as one of the most effective in the state with providing support to unemployed Floridians. By one count, we’ve referred more than 16,000 of the 60,000 people to DEO for support, by far the most compared to any other lawmaker. This is in large part to our staff and volunteers who help to bring claims to DEO’s attention and troubleshoot problems one-on-one too. Every Friday at 5:00pm we host a Virtual Office Hour on Facebook and Instagram to help answer DEO questions. Be sure to join us this Friday.
REMINDER: Orange County will reopen its CARES Act crisis assistance program this week. The county has $56 million remaining and will announce soon when the crisis assistance hotline would reopen, how much money would be allocated to it, and who would be eligible to receive payments. Read more here. If you don’t live in Orange County, contact your county and/or city elected officials to see what local programs they might have available for you.
If you are unemployed and looking for a job, we encourage you to contact a local Career Source Office for support. Click here to learn more.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% in August, compared to its 13.8% in April. Unfortunately the rate remains a lot higher in Central Florida, and we know that many folks who have gone back to work are working reduced hours, and are still unable to make ends meet. Click here to learn more about this disparity from First Coast News.
HOUSING & UTILITIES SUPPORT
Governor Ron DeSantis did NOT extend Florida’s limited Executive Order protections on evictions and foreclosures. This order expired on October 1st. Read more here.
At the federal level, the CDC recently announced a federal, temporary halt on evictions in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 “due to economic hardship.” The federal eviction order protects a tenant or resident of a residential property in the U.S. who meets five factors and provides their landlord with a declaration indicating such. You can learn more and see a sample declaration form here. Note that this federal order is being challenged in court.
Click here to see our updated guidance on evictions and foreclosures. Two weeks ago we hosted a virtual workshop focused on the CDC eviction order with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar that you can watch here. We also sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis last week asking for additional CARES Act dollars to be allocated to support Floridians who are behind on housing payments, and to support those who are precariously housed and living in hotels. Click here to see that letter.
Last week we called on Florida utility regulators and Governor Ron DeSantis to “step up” on an electricity shutoff moratorium and relief from accumulating unpaid balances for thousands of Floridians who are behind on their power bills. Three of the state’s investor-owned utilities — Tampa Electric Co., Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light — have resumed shutoffs for those who don’t pay their power bills, citing the cost of unpaid accounts.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is expected to discuss a 90-day moratorium request at a hearing this week. Unfortunately PSC staff recommended that commissioners deny the proposal, saying the certification process it would have customers go through to avoid a shutoff is “too onerous” on both the utilities and customers. We encourage Floridians to contact their local government officials, their utility company, and dial 211 to see what relief for utilities might be available to you.
We continue to push the Governor and all elected officials on the importance of wearing a mask to reduce the transmission rate of COVID19. Special thanks to Orlando Magazine for giving us a shoutout not only in wearing a mask, but also in our support of local businesses who are making masks, too!
REMINDER: COMPLETE THE U.S. CENSUS
A federal judge has issued an order to clarify that, for now, the U.S. Census Bureau must continue counting for the 2020 census through Oct. 31 after finding the bureau made multiple violations of an earlier order that extends the national head count’s schedule. Click here to learn more and follow this link to fill out the US Census: https://www.census.gov
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
This month, Representative Anna V. Eskamani was recognized by two different organizations and Orlando Magazine for her leadership in our state.
Equality Florida marked her as one of their 2020 Voices for Equality Honorees, and the National Association of Social Workers of Florida’s Central Unit selected her as their Elected Official of the Year! Orlando Magazine recognized Anna as one of 18 Local Leaders in an Age of Crisis, highlighting her leadership alongside that of Representative Carlos G. Smith. Read more here.
Last week Anna was also a featured virtual speaker for several events including those hosted by Best Buddies, the Adult Literacy League, the Multistate Tax Commission, and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. She also joined airport workers as they demanded their jobs back from HMS Host. We won’t stop tackling the tough issues, and empowering Floridians across our state.