Your Official 2020 Legislative Update: Week 1 (& Honoring Dr. King)
The 2020 Legislative Session has begun! The gavel dropped on January 14th at 10:00am kicking off the 60 days countdown till the end of session. Here’s your weekly legislative update — a review of issues we are involved with during this first week of session.
Please keep in mind that these updates will never be all encompassing because there is so much that happens during the Legislative Session. Please consider keeping up to date with us through our social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also watch Committee Meetings and Floor Session live on the Florida Channel.
We also want to take a moment in this email update to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This weekend we walked in Orlando’s 2020 Dr. King Parade and stopped by Hannibal Square’s Dr. King celebrations too. We also stood in solidarity with our airport workers as they ask for increased wages and benefits. We are proud to honor the legacy of Dr. King through our advocacy and commitment to never leave anyone behind as we build a better and brighter Florida for all.
We have quite a few events coming up and encourage you to consider joining us at Orlando’s Dragon Parade! You can learn more by clicking on the graphic below and can see all of our upcoming events at this link.
Now onto to your Weekly Legislative Session Update —
**STANDING WITH TEACHERS**
Week one of session kicked off with thousands of Florida teachers rallying at the Capitol for more public school funding. We were proud to stand in solidarity with our teachers in demanding better pay and protection of our public schools. This has been one of our top legislative priorities from our first days serving you in the Florida House.
As teachers rallied outside the Capitol, a committee within the Florida House located $462.6 million for teacher pay — moving these funds away from other education programs. Keep in mind that this is still short of the Governor’s $600 million plan, and that the Governor’s plan does not include a raise for all teachers.
In other related education news, Rep. Stan McClain has filed legislation that would give state public colleges and universities the power to approve charter schools, creating another avenue for charter schools to be created. We stand in opposition to this legislation and in support greater oversight of both charter schools and private voucher schools, versus pathways to create more of them.
**FILED OUR FINAL POLICY BILLS**
This past week we filed our final policy bills — each were repealers, two to restore home rule and the final focused on protecting conservation easements. You can see our full list of bills and appropriation requests here.
**CO-SPONSORED BI-PARTISAN CANNABIS LEGISLATION**
It was announced last Monday by Make It Legal Florida that due to restrictive ballot qualification policies in the state, they have decided to pursue a marijuana legalization initiative in 2022, rather than this year as initially planned. That means if Florida plans to legalize cannabis in 2020 it needs to happen via the legislature, and we are proud to co-sponsor bipartisan legislation to do just that.
**BUILDING SUPPORT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY**
We continue to be a leading voice in renewable energy policy for Florida, and are working with coalition partner to boost co-sponsors of HB97/SB256, our renewable energy goals legislation. We were excited to see Florida State University’s SGA endorse our legislation, too!
In other environmental news, we were pleased to see Florida reach a deal with a real estate company to acquire 20,000 acres of the Everglades that was slated for oil production in order to protect the wetlands from oil drilling. This is why we must fully fund Florida Forever, and advocate for meaningful policies that hold polluters accountable, prohibit fracking and oil drilling, while also protecting our water from over-pumping too.
**TAKING ON GUN SAFETY**
On Monday we also joined legislative colleagues and community advocates in supporting common sense gun safety legislation for the 2020 session. We have filed legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and have co-sponsored many other bills too.
In the Florida Senate, a committee passed legislation to close the gun show loophole, but this bill still allowed for most private-party gun sales to take place without background checks. The NRA testified in opposition to this small policy idea.
**SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER (SBDC) MOBILE BUS**
We are passionate advocates for Florida’s small businesses, and loved visiting SBDC’s mobile unit! This bus travels across the state to support small businesses by providing them with free expert consultation and access to funding programs too. You can learn more about SBDC locally via this link.
**MISTAKEN CHILD ABUSE CASES**
We learned before the 2020 Legislative Session started of child abuse cases that were misdiagnosed, leading to families being seperated without reason, expensive lawsuits, and in one case a mom took her own life becuse of the stress. Since learning of this news, our office has received stories of other families experiencing similar misdiagnosis of child abuse. We are actively collecting these stories from Florida families, and working with the Department of Health to learn how we can improve child abuse detection.
**MEETING WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE**
Last week we met with the staff of Florida’s Attorney General (AG) Ashley Moody to discuss four main subjects of concerns: Florida’s Victim Compensation Fund, rape kits, children’s access to vaping, and pharmacy billing managers (PBMs).
We want to make sure that Florida’s Victim Compensation Fund has a strong dedicated source of funding, and victims of crimes can easily access these funds without disrimnation. We also are proud to co-sponsor legisation that would create a rape kit tracking system, and touched base with the AG’s office of how a tracking system would work. Our conversation on vaping focused on shutting down the black market and preventing children from being able to engage in vaping; with our PBM discussion focused on ensuring greater transparency with the sale of prescription drugs.
Each issue is unique and important, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with the AG’s office.
**FIGHTING FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY**
This first week of Florida’s Legislative Session was a tough week for LGTBQ equality. Eight anti-LGTBQ bills were filed, including bills that target our state’s most vulnerable youth. These bills are coming at a time of unprecedented attacks on transgender Americans by both the Trump Administration and conservative legislatures across the country. One of these bills was neutralized, but 7 anti-LGBTQ bills remain a threat to our LGBTQ community. We encourage you to get involved with groups like Equality Florida, and consider coming to Tallahassee next week for their Lobby Days too.
In other LGBTQ news: two transgender women filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida on Monday over its ban on transgender-related health care for state workers, arguing it violates the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. You can read more here.
**BEGINNING OF THE 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION**
Tuesday is when the 2020 Legislative Session officially started. This is where the Governor addressed both the House and Senate with his annual state of the state address. Later Democratic lawmakers and advocates gave what we dubbed “The People’s Response” to the State of the State, calling attention to our Sunshine Agenda, a set of proposals that work for all Floridians, which includes expanding Medicaid.
We remain committed to building bridges when we can, while never being shy to hold people and corporations accountable when we must.
**PROTECTING ABORTION ACCESS**
This week was a bad week for safe and legal abortion access too. The Florida Senate moved forward legislation to change Florida from a parental notification state to parental consent, meaning that young people seeking access to an abortion must not only notify a parent or gaurdian — they would now need to get their permission too. You can learn more about parental involvement laws here.
Ultimately this legislation is less about improving the lives of young people, and more about relitigating abortion acecss with a new and much more conservative Florida Supreme Court.
**RESOLUTION CONDEMNING WHITE SUPREMACY**
You might remember that during legislative committee meeting weeks we sponsored HR51 to condemn white supremacy and white nationalism. This past week a Florida Senate committee attempted to combine the resolution that we filed along with a version from Senate leadership. The results led to some criticism, as the resolution meant to condemn white supremacy ended up not really condemning white supremacy. You can learn more here.
**COMMITTEE BILL PRESENTATIONS**
This week we presented several member appropriation requests including for the Orlando United Assistance Center, The Primose Center, Limbitless Solutions at UCF, and for the City of Winter Park. This week we’ll be presenting another appropriation request to support youth sports in Central Florida. For Florida’s overall budget, we continue to advocate for the protection of affordable housing trust funds and for an increase in arts and culture funding along with mental health resources.
**ATTENDING COMMITTEE MEETINGS**
This past week we had two committee meetings ourselves and kept track of other committee meetings too. Donna’s Law — legisltion to eliminate the statute of limitation for the rape of minors — moved through it’s first House committee stop, we also saw major healthcare bills move through the Florida House, along with criminal justice reform move through the Senate.
We also saw (yet again) another effort to make the citizen’s constitutional ballot amendments more difficult. You can read more about that here. There’s also deep concern around the re-organization of Florida’s Medicaid program serving our disability community that we are closely watching. Finally the Florida House has created a new committee to look into “foreign meddling” of Florida’s hospitals and universities that you can learn more about at this link.
**ADVOCACY & CONSTITUENT MEETINGS**
In between legislative meetings we were also able to connect with advocates and constituents from all walks of life including sexual assault prevention advocates, teachers, labor leaders, the Epilepsy Foundation and OCPS Foundation. Our office is your office!
**VIGIL FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRAN AT FSU**
Tuesday night we joined students and community members at Florida State University for a candlelight vigil honoring the lives lost in the Iran Plane Crash. We continue to stand with the people of Iran and their calls for popular democracy.
**ADVISORY OPINION ON AMENDMENT 4**
Last week the Florida Supreme Court released an advisory opinion on Amendment 4, stating that those who have served their time in prison cannot have their rights restored until all fees and fines are paid off.
Following this, Governor DeSantis tweeted that “voting is a privilege,” a dangerous perspective that faced national backlash. DeSantis later backtracked his statement, blaming his staff for the tweet.
We continue to support rights restoration and want to remind you that this fight is not over and the issue is still being litigated in federal court.
**COMMUNITY EVENTS IN TALLAHASSEE**
While in Tallahassee, we connected with law students at FSU for a conversation on reproductive freedom, and later met with 150+ Orange County Public School students to talk about civic engagement and the importance of young people getting involved in politics. We love being so plugged in with our community — whether it’s back in House District 47 or in Tallahassee, people are always our focus.
**ANNA NAMED STATE LEAD FOR NATIONAL CAUCUS OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATORS**
**2019 TOWN HALL PROJECT AWARD**
Last week the Town Hall Project awarded us as a Stand Out State Legislator for our community engagement and accessibility! We hosted 17 town halls in 2019, five digital town halls focused on different issues, and four presentations to our constituents in assisted living communities. On top of all this community engagement hosted by our Legislative Office, we also participated in more than 90 events hosted by our community partners. We are proud to be accessible and responsive to our amazing constituents.
**BACK IN HOUSE DISTRICT 47**
While we were in Tallahassee our district staff continued to attend community events, including the opening of Rollins College’s Katherine W. Rollins Hall, and a Neighborhood Association Meeting for Lake Holden. In addition to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr events, I also spoke to UCF College of Medicine students and social workers. We also spoke at the 2020 Women’s March, too.
**ANNOUNCED OUR SPRING 2020 INTERNS**
Last week we welcomed an incredible team of 18 interns to our Tallahassee and Orlando offices! You can learn more about this semester’s cohort at this link.
That’s it for now! Look out for our next Weekly Legislative Update in your inbox over the weekend!
Representative Anna V. Eskamani