Your Official 2020 Legislative Session Update: Week 6 Committee Meetings

Dear Friend,

We just wrapped up the last series of Committee Meetings in Tallahassee, and are back home in House District 47.

This has been a busy month for us — last week in Central Florida we had ten speaking engagements within five days, including participating in Civility Brevard, a bipartisan event focused on community dialogue. We also walked in the Winter Park Christmas Parade, and will be at Baldwin Park Winter Spark tomorrow! You can click here for a list of upcoming Holiday Events that we’ll be attending.

Last week also saw multiple tragedies and lives lost to gun violence — I want you to know that we remain forever committed to preventing and reducing gun violence, and are unapologetic in our collective efforts to build a safer state for all.

Scroll down to see what we were up to in Tallahassee, and know that you can always keep up with Team Anna on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

SPONSORING A BILL TO REPEAL MANDATORY MINIMUMS

This week we filed HB6053, legislation that would repeal mandatory minimum laws that impact non-violent drug offenders. Mandatory minimums don’t work to reduce crime rates and have instead created significant unintended consequences. They are used in situations far different than those anticipated by the law’s authors, have sent thousands of low-level drug offenders to prison, and have created a “trial penalty” system where mandatory sentences imposed after a trial are significantly longer than what defendants receive from plea bargains. We should let judges be judges, and repeal mandatory minimums — especially those for non-violent drug offenders.

PROTECTING OUR AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND

We are proud to co-sponsor legislation that would prohibit the raiding of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. For those who don’t know, the Sadowski Fund uses documentary tax stamp revenue to pay for housing initiatives. Over the past 25 years, the fund has generated $5.9 billion for that purpose but our legislative colleagues continue to use these funds for other areas of Florida’s budget. House leaders have not ruled out the potential of misappropriating these dollars again, but we’ll be fighting to maintain funding for affordable housing all session.

TWITTER TOWN HALL FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY

We are proud defenders of home rule and local control, which is why I had a fabulous time participating in a Twitter Town Hall focused on the topic of local democract. Co-hosted with six different advocacy groups, the online conversation unpacked the dangers of pre-emption, and how it impacts issues like LGBTQ equality, workers wages & rights, public safety, environmental protection, and telecommunication. You can catch up with the conversation by searching the hashtag #FlLocalDemocracy on Twitter!

EXONERATE THE GROVELAND FOUR

Four black men largely believed to have been falsely accused of raping a white woman 70 years ago, were issued an official pardon by the governor and Cabinet earlier this year, but this week surviving relatives of the Groveland Four along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers are hoping for a full exoneration. We are proud to support these efforts.

PRESENTING APPROPRIATION REQUESTS

As lawmakers, we have the opportunity to file appropriation requests for local cities, educational institutions, and community organizations. This week we presented on two of these requests, including one to support the City of Edgewood with infrastructure improvements of four roads. This is the first step of many in trying to secure funding for our community in Florida’s state budget.

SUPPORTING THE FLORIDA FAMILY LEAVE ACT

Senate Bill 1194 and House Bill 889, would require businesses to allow employees to take paid family leave for up to three months after the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child. We are proud to be co-sponsors of this legislation, and hope that it will be given a hearing.

MEETING WITH CONSTITUENTS

While in Tallahassee we met with some fabulous advocates including folks from Share The Care, auto recyclers, FSU students, and more. As always, our door is open to everyone!

COMMITTEE MEETINGS & BILL VOTES

This week two committees we serve on met. That included Local, Federal, and Veterans Affairs and Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee. During Local, Federal, and Veterans Affairs we voted against legislation that would expand the use of fireworks in Florida. Our motivation to vote no was grounded in both environmental concerns (especially for bird populations and the increased hazard of wildfires) and the impact of fireworks for those in our community with live with PTSD or intellectual disabilities. You can read more about that bill at this link.

UPDATE ON RIGHTS RESTORATION

A federal judge excoriated lawyers representing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, accusing the state of trying to “run out the clock” to keep felons from voting in next year’s elections. You can read more here. Meanwhile in Kentucky, non-violent offenders who served their time who given back their voting rights by their Governor — something Florida could also easily do, if our Governor wanted to.

ANTI-ABORTION LEGISLATION MOVES FORWARD

This week legislation on forced parental consent moved forward in the Florida Senate. 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. You can read more here.

PHARMACY BILLING MANAGERS

You might remember that over the summer we were interviewed by News 13 on the lack of transparency around Pharmacy Billing Managers (PBMs). These companies serve as middle men between pharmacies and health insurance companies to provide real-time benefit analysis and actual costs for consumers purchasing prescription medication. Unfortunately, PBMs have morphed to a profit-driven model that favors insurance providers and large pharmacy chains over patients. This week it was announced that legislation will be filed to take on PBMs, and it will have bipartisan support too. You can read more here.

SAVING OUR SPRINGS

You might have heard that Nestlé Waters is looking to expand a pumping permit in hopes of taking more than a million gallons a day from Ginnie Springs for bottling. Last week we sent a letter to Board Members of the Suwannee River Water Management District asking them to deny this permit request, leading to Nestlé Waters contacting our office for a meeting. I met with the Nestlé Waters’ lobbyist while in Tallahassee, and we continued to express our concerns with water depletion along with the health of our springs and rivers. The Suwannee River Water Management District has yet to make a decision on this permit request, and I encourage you to learn more about the case, and sign this petition against expanding the water pumping permit.

INTERSTATE COMPACT AGAINST CORPORATE WELFARE

This week we filed HB917, legislation for Florida to help create and join an Interstate Compact to Phase Out Corporate Tax Giveaways. Corporate giveaways are among the least effective uses of taxpayer dollars to create and maintain jobs, but lawmakers across the country face a prisoners’ dilemma — we feel forced to participate in corporate tax giveaways because nearly everyone else does, and the only way to end this race to the bottom is an interstate agreement that phases us all away from this ineffective and wasteful game. Learn more about our bill at this link.

SCHOOL SAFETY & THE GUARDIAN PROGRAM

This week it was confirmed that Republican lawmakers who pushed to allow teachers to carry guns in schools do not know how many Florida teachers are armed and participating in the so-called guardian program. This complete disregard to how many guns could be in Florida schools right now is shocking, and you can read more here. In the realm of school safety, the Sun Sentinel released in-depth reporting on troubled Florida kids who dream about shooting up their schools. You can read that series here.

This all serves as another reminder that arming teachers is a terrible idea, and our focus should be on providing mental health intervention to our students — not access to firearms.

The legislature did not discuss teacher pay this week, but there was a presentation on “school choice” provided by the Department of Education, which you can read more about here.

FUNDING FOR ORLANDO UNITED ASSISTANCE CENTER

The Orlando United Assistance Center (OUAC) has been a lifeline for those impacted by the Pulse tragedy that devastated hundreds of families. Without additional funding, it may have to close its doors. We are proud to join Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith in sponsoring a funding request to support the OUAC.

GUARDIANSHIP IN FLORIDA

The House Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee on Thursday unanimously passed a guardianship bill that was recently introduced to the Florida legislature. This legislation would increase oversight on state guardians, especially when it comes to how they handle their clients’ medical directives and money. Much of this bill has been motivated by the investigative series done by the Orlando Sentinel a few months ago. You can read more about the bill at this link.

NEWS ARTICLES WORTH READING

This week saw some incredible coverage by our local paper, the Orlando Sentinel. I encourage you to subscribe to the Orlando Sentinel and to check out Laborland (focused on Central Florida’s tourism industry), their series on Florida’s Corporate Tax system, and their recent coverage of Universal Studios’ relationship with Orange County.

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, never hesitate to let me know.

Onward,

Representative Anna V. Eskamani

PS: Wanted to make sure you saw this cool new artwork spotted in the Florida Capitol. I wonder who the artist is?

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Orlandoan, daughter of working class immigrants and UCF grad elected to serve FL HD47. Working for you, fighting for us. #OnwardWithAnna

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Anna V. Eskamani

Orlandoan, daughter of working class immigrants and UCF grad elected to serve FL HD47. Working for you, fighting for us. #OnwardWithAnna