Your Official 2020 Legislative Session Update: Week 3 Committee Meetings
Last week was another series of Committee Meetings in Tallahassee, and this Monday we’ll be back in the Capitol for more meetings as we prep for the 2020 Legislative Session. Scroll down to see what we were up to during Week 3 of Legislative Committee Meetings, and don’t forget that Early Voting is open for Orlando City Elections! Orlando constituents can learn more by clicking here.
October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence affects millions of any gender, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it. We are firm advocates against control and abuse, and want Floridians to know that you are never alone when it comes to facing abuse and there is a way out.
We’re here to help, along with the resources shared in this graphic, and many more people and organizations.
ELIMINATING THE STATUTE OF LIMITATION ON THE RAPE OF MINORS
If a victim of sexual battery who is 16 or older does not report the crime to law enforcement within three days, a byzantine eight-year clock starts ticking on how long that assault can be brought for prosecution in a court of law. Such a provision, known as a statute of limitations, exists for many crimes. But for sexual assault in Florida, it’s governed by a patchwork system that varies depending on how severe the crime is considered to be or the age of the victim. Last session we sponsored legislation to eliminate the statute of limitation for the rape of minors, and are now serving as co-sponsors on the bill. On the Senate side the bill received its first hearing, and passed unanimously.
SALARY OF FCADV CEO TIFFANY CARR
The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) plays a critical role in our state. The organization contracts with the state Department of Children and Families to oversee domestic violence programs in Florida, and provide 42 domestic violence shelters with public funds. Unfortunately there have been deep concerns around the organizations salary structure, as their longtime president and CEO Tiffany Carr was paid $761,000 in one year, raising eyebrows and questions on the organization’s financial decision making. The Florida Department of Children and Families started a review of the coalition’s finances last summer, but have not been able to “move forward” with an audit for more than a year because FCADV will not hand over documents the department is requesting. We have sent a letter to House leadership asking for the legislature to investigate the misuse of funds ourselves.
Fighting for Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Last week we stood in solidarity with our young people to speak out against the forced parental consent legislation, House Bill 265. Forced parental consent laws have been shown to put the most at risk youth in even more danger. But, the truth is, if this bill becomes law in Florida it will put all of our abortion rights at risk.
As Senator Dennis Baxley and other anti-abortion leaders admitted recently, passing this legislation is the first step in a much larger and more alarming plan to have our constitutional right to privacy reinterpreted to no longer safeguard access to abortion in Florida. We’re fighting back and preparing to defend abortion access for the 2020 legislative sessoin.
MEETING WITH ADVOCATES IN TALLAHASSEE
We had some fantastic meetings while in Tallahassee. This included meeting with advocates from the Clarke Schools for the Hearing and Speech, members of Florida Makes to support manufacturing jobs in Florida, and Alzheimer’s Community Care, an organization that provides support to personal caregivers of loved ones who face Alzheimers.
STANDING WITH OUR FIREFIGHTERS
Last session we were proud to stand with firefighters across Florida in supporting the passage of Senate Bill 426, legislation that requires all firefighters to have access to cancer coverage in their health plans. One of our local firefighters Bernie stopped by our Tallahassee office to present us with a coin to mark that important legislative success.
MODERNIZING HIV LAWS IN FLORIDA
Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Justice have issued recent guidance to reform the HIV transmission laws in order to better align them with public health goals and contemporary science. Yet Florida is still far behind from these standards, leading to stigma around HIV and a decision by many to not get tested. We support efforts to modernize HIV laws in Florida, and are proud to co-sponsor HB427.
PROTECTING VOTING RIGHTS
In case you missed, Florida was marked by the New York Times as a state that is attempting to suppress students’ ability to vote. As always, you can count on us to push back against all acts of voter suppression. No matter the demographic, voter suppression is wrong.
LGBTQ EQUALITY IN SCHOOLS
Two weeks ago we learned that a LGTBQ teacher at a private voucher school in Brevard was fired for being gay. We immediately jumped into action, advocating for passage of both the Competitive Workforce Act, and the bill that we filed — HB45 — which would ban any private school who discriminates against LGBTQ students from receiving public money. Last week we spoke to that teacher, and are helping her amplify her story so no other teacher or student has to go through this type of hateful discrimination.
PROTECTING PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST & THE ENVIRONMENT
We are committed to ensuring public records stay accessible to Florida taxpayers, which is why we voted in support of legislation that would stop any government from suing a public records requester. This bill passed the full House Floor last session but did not make it onto the Senate Floor. In another committee, legislation that would allow for more sprawl growth did pass its first committee stop, but we were proud to vote against it.
BACK IN HOUSE DISTRICT 47
It has been a wonderfully busy time back in HD47. Last Friday morning we joined UCP of Central Florida for their annual breakfast event, and later that night we attended the 30th Birthday Bash for Best Buddies! We also welcomed an incredible group of FSU students to our Orlando district office.
On Saturday we had seven back-to-back events, starting with the Breast Cancer Prevention Walk in Downtown Orlando and VegFest at Festival Park. We also stopped by Valencia College to speak to 200 middle schoolers, Lake Holden for a neighborhood BBQ, Baldwin Park for the Hemophilia Foundation Walk, Thornton Park for the 7th Annual Halloween Bash, and Winter Garden to celebrate the birthdays of Sisters Ann and Theresa, two of our Apopka nuns who advocate for the rights of our local farmworkers.
Then on Sunday we joined the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness for Orlando’s Not One More Walk, an event to raise awareness and resources for Central Floridians who face eating disorders. It was a powerful morning, and I was proud to walk alongside those who have experienced eating disorders, and smash a few scales along the way, too!
COMMUNITY SAFETY IN HD47
Community safety is one of our biggest priorities in House District 47, and we have been engaged in several safety projects this week. First, we know that there is still a police search for an alleged rapist in Thornton Park. I live in Thornton Park, and we have been supporting police and neighbors in their attempt to identify this attacker. Please be mindful of your surroundings and try not to walk alone at night.
Over in Orwin Manor we face a different type of safety concern — traffic. For years Orwin Manor and surrounding communities have been faced with intense traffic, pedestrian safety risks, and severe car accidents. We met with community members during the summer to learn more about this problem, and were proud to help organize a traffic summit to bring community members alongside officials from FDOT, Winter Park, and Orlando. The event resulted in very important presentations and dialogue, with consensus being built towards some viable solutions.
Finally, our community faces boat safety concerns on the southside of House District 47 at Conway Chain of Lakes. This beautiful part of Central Florida has experienced a very unique safety concern around the excessive speeding of boats and boats riding too close to shore, impacting not just safety but property erosion as well. We met with residents back in June, and just wrapped up a community survey that we conducted alongside Commissioner Mayra Uribe. There seems to be consensus from community members on what the problems are, and now we are determining what level of government will be the most appropriate to pursue solutions. You can take a look at that survey data via this link.
SENDING LOVE TO THE FAMILIES OF LOU FREY AND THAD SEYMOUR JR
This month two Orlando community leaders passed away, and we want to send our love to the families of Congressman Lou Frey and former Rollins President Thaddeus Seymour Sr. I was fortunate enough to know both men through my academic studies and advocacy.
From our family to yours, Happy Halloween!