Making it Easier to Vote
Following President Biden’s clear and decisive electoral victory in November of 2020, Florida Republicans passed legislation aiming to prevent certain populations from voting. These laws have taken aim at African Americans, students, seniors, the working poor and the disabled. I have been vocal in my opposition to these measures and continue to do everything in my power as an elected official to expand rather than restrict access to the ballot box. Voting is a right, not a privilege. It must be treated as such. I believe that our state should expand access to vote-by-mail, automatically enroll people to vote when they receive a driver’s license, expand access to drop boxes for ballots and allow ex-felons who qualify under Amendment 4 to vote without payment of an unconstitutional poll tax.
Despite the GOP’s false claims of widespread fraud in 2020, the only real evidence of illicit electoral activity in Florida was the planting of sham NPA candidates aimed at siphoning votes away from Democratic contenders in close races. This fraud, carried out by a disgraced Republican state senator now facing felony charges, contributed to former Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez’s loss to Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia by just 34 votes. In order to stop this sort of fraud from recurring, I introduced legislation requiring NPA candidates be held to the same basic standards as party-affiliated candidates when seeking to place their names on the ballot. My bill was ultimately incorporated into the larger law which passed, one small victory in an otherwise atrocious piece of legislation. I was also successful in removing some of the worst provisions of the bill originally proposed by the Republicans.
Ending the Scourge of Gun Violence
One of the main reasons I first became involved in politics was the failure of the federal and state government to take meaningful action against gun violence. When the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School happened during my first campaign for State House, I committed myself to doing as much as humanly possible on this issue and since then I have sponsored bills banning assault weapons, requiring the safe storage of firearms and implementing background checks on ammunition sales. I will never stop fighting for commonsense gun safety legislation to make our state safer. I am proud to have the support and endorsement of Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN).
Standing Up for Seniors
Senior citizens make up over 30% of Florida’s population and their numbers are growing every day. I feel strongly that we must do everything we can to protect and care for seniors. As a mediator specializing in elder care issues, I have long advocated for better living conditions at Florida’s nursing homes, including calls for mandatory around-the-clock air conditioning. As a legislator, I have attempted to protect pension benefits for retirees and ensure access to affordable housing for those on fixed incomes by protecting the Sadowski Fund. I have also successfully passed legislation making it easier for low-income seniors to file for homestead exemptions, allowing them to keep more of the money they spent a lifetime saving with the hope of enjoying a modest retirement. We must also better regulate assisted living facilities to make sure those in these communities are safe and comfortable.te.
Expanding Medicaid & Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare
If Florida expanded Medicaid today, over 800,000 uninsured Floridians would gain access to health benefits. That’s why I sponsored the bill to do so during the 2021 Legislative Session. In particular, expanding Medicaid would also ensure better coverage for rural areas and be a significant boost to our state’s economy. We also need to do more to lower healthcare premiums, make it easier for all Floridians to access mental health services and lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Fully Funding Public Schools
For too long, Republican lawmakers have prioritized charter and private schools over traditional public schools. In contrast, I have advocated to increase public school funding, lower class sizes and raise teacher pay. I have also worked with educators, students and parents to protect the Bright Futures scholarship program from harmful changes. It is my firm belief that every child in Florida should have equal access to a high-quality public education and I will always fight for our traditional public schools.
Fighting for Women's Rights
Attacks on women’s reproductive rights have gone on too long in our state. In the Legislature, I have stood up to fight against dangerous laws that prohibit access to reproductive rights, including a law that would require women under 18 years of age to obtain parental consent before terminating a pregnancy. These restrictions on women’s reproductive rights are outrageous and we need to ensure that women have access to safe and affordable health care options.
Bringing Economic Development to Rural Areass
Our rural communities are struggling with unemployment, a lack of housing options, poverty and dwindling populations. I am focused on improving quality of life in rural areas by pushing for legislation and appropriations which build infrastructure, ensure access to highspeed wireless internet and aid small businesses. I also support offering incentives for companies to operate in rural areas. During my time in office, I have prioritized working with local officials to help bring businesses to the Glades to spur economic development and I will continue to lead these important efforts..
Advocating for Florida's Farmers
Agriculture is Florida’s second largest industry and our farmers feed around 150 million people a year. What’s more, contained within the boundaries of SD 29 is the largest area of agricultural production east of the Mississippi River! The Coronavirus Pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe, healthy, local food sourcing. Now, it’s up to us in the Legislature to make sure farmers have the resources they need to prosper and eliminate the red tape that stands in the way of them being able to do their job. We must continue to fund the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension programs. Additionally, we must work with producers to ensure best management practices (BMP’s) are being instituted. BMP’s are not only effective practices for farmers who need to sow the same fields year after year, but they also go a long way toward ensuring our environment is protected and our rural ecosystems remain healthy.
Safeguarding the Environment and Florida's Water
Florida’s natural environment and water are among its most valuable treasures and help attract millions of tourists every year. Unfortunately, the Republicans’ denial of climate change has caused decades of irreparable damage. I believe that we as legislators must lean on environmental scientists to help us enact the necessary protections for our coasts, springs, rivers, lakes and other waterways; invest in renewable energy; and reduce plastic waste. I have long been committed to protecting our environment and currently serve as Chair of a working group on the health of Lake Okeechobee as well as on the South Florida Water Coalition advisory board. In 2021, after working with a coalition of environmental groups to determine the impact of the proposed M-CORE toll roads (also known as the “roads to nowhere”), I was proud to be the first to propose legislation which was successful in repealing huge parts of this poorly planned project which would have been massively disruptive to both our environment and our rural communities. When it comes to recycling and reducing plastic waste, I have been effective in making sure all options remain on the table in looking beyond single-use plastic bags as the only or best choice for retailers and consumers. I have also passed legislation requiring the removal of derelict vessels from public waterways in order to help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission carry out its important functions.
Protecting Workers' Rights
I have always been a strong advocate for our unions and I believe that constant vigilance is necessary when it comes to protecting workers’ rights. Through several legislative sessions, I have stood up against Republican attempts to make it harder for workers to unionize and fought strenuously to protect the rights of teachers, in particular. I support safeguarding and expanding workplace safety regulations; continuing to ensure workers have the right to unionize; implementing the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2020 which raises the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2026; and offering better benefits..
Ensuring Emergency Preparedness & Economic Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we must always be prepared for the worst. We faced devastating loss of life and many will continue to endure long-lasting economic effects. As a Legislature, we must prepare a comprehensive plan with the help of public health experts and economists that will address what we learned from this pandemic, how we handle the next one and the roadmap to economic recovery for all Floridians. We cannot afford to be ill-prepared the next time around.
Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality
I am fully committed to advancing LGBTQ+ equality in our state. My legislative record on this subject includes bills seeking to outlaw conversion therapy and to repeal statutory language banning same-sex marriage. I have always co-sponsored the Competitive Workforce Act, which aims to add sexual orientation and gender identity as impermissible grounds for discrimination. I have fought against the transgender athlete ban as well as the so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” allowing school counselors to out gay and transgender students. My record on LGBTQ+ equality has earned me the honor of endorsements from Equality Florida, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and the Dolphin Democrats.
Providing Responsive Constituent Services
Since being elected to office in 2018, providing reliable and responsive constituent services has been a top priority for me and my staff. If for some reason we can’t help you with an issue, we will make sure you are connected with the right person and department who will. I believe every Representative and Senator has a duty to do the same and will ensure we are all held to that standard of service.