Ensuring Emergency Preparedness & Economic Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we must always be prepared for the worst. We have faced devastating loss of life and are now preparing for long-lasting economic effects that could rival the Great Depression. As a Legislature, we must prepare an extensive and comprehensive plan with the help of public health experts and economists that will address what we learned from COVID-19 pandemic, how we handle the next pandemic, and the roadmap to economic recovery. We cannot afford to be ill-prepared the next time around.
Fixing Florida's Broken Unemployment System
Florida Republicans admitted the unemployment system they built was “designed to fail.” It is working how they intended as over two million Floridians are seeking unemployment and hundreds of thousands haven’t received payment months later. The system is riddled with issues. The online application platform is continually unavailable and failing to provide claimants with the resources and answers they need. Call center staff are under-trained and calls go unanswered. Payments are not coming quick enough in part because the system creates roadblocks to prevent claimants from receiving the compensation to which they are entitled. We need a new and better system which can handle claims quickly and efficiently, is equipped to deal with a large influx of claims like we have seen and is not purposely rigged against the people.
It is also completely unacceptable to have one of the lowest and shortest payouts in the nation. Both employers and employees pay into this system, and they should be able to receive enough money to live on during their time of need.
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 increase teacher pay. It shouldn’t matter where you come from or who your parents are – every child in Florida should have equal access to a high-quality public education. I will continue to fight for that in the State Senate.
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. And then during my first campaign for the State House, the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School happened. Enough is enough! We need more protections so everyone can be safe in schools, cinemas, churches, malls and all public spaces. That’s why I’m calling for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, universal comprehensive background checks, closing the “gun show loophole” for firearm sales and saying no to open carry for teachers and on college campuses. In both the 2019 and 2020 Legislative Sessions, I introduced a bill that would penalize gun owners who do not safely store their weapons. I will continue to fight for commonsense gun safety legislation that makes our state safer.
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 calling for mandatory around-the-clock air conditioning. Palm Beach County is desperate for affordable housing, and the crisis has hit our senior population hard. We must use the Sadowski Fund, which is supposed to be used for creating affordable housing opportunities, and ensure Seniors have options for quality, affordable housing. We must also better regulate assisted living facilities to make sure those in these communities are safe and comfortable.
Expanding Medicaid & Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare
If Florida expanded Medicaid today, over 800,000 uninsured Floridians would gain access to health benefits. In particular, this 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 prescription drug costs.
Fighting for Women's Rights
The attacks on women’s reproductive rights have gone on too long in Tallahassee. I have stood up to fight against dangerous laws that prohibit access to reproductive rights, most recently a law that would require women under 18 to have 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.
Making it Easier to Vote
In 2018, over 60% of Floridians decided that non-violent ex-felons should have the right to vote. Since then, our Governor and Republicans have done everything they can to stop it including implementing a poll tax through SB7066 which has been ruled unconstitutional by two judges. Voting is a right, not a privilege. It should be treated as such. We need to expand access to vote-by-mail using federal funds supplied by the CAREs Act, automatically enroll people to vote when they receive a driver’s license and allow ex-felons who qualify under Amendment 4 to freely cast their ballots.
Bringing Economic Development to Rural Areas
Our rural communities are struggling with unemployment, a lack of housing options, poverty and dwindling populations. We can start to improve the quality of life in rural areas by building infrastructure, ensuring access to highspeed wireless internet, investing in small businesses and offering incentives for companies to operate in rural areas. I have worked 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. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe, healthy local food sourcing. We need 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. For far too long Florida Republicans have denied climate change, causing decades of irreparable damage. We need to 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.
Protecting Workers' Rights
I have always been a strong advocate for our unions and I believe that we must protect workers’ rights. We can do that by safeguarding and expanding workplace safety regulations, continuing to ensure workers have the right to unionize, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and offering better benefits.
Providing Responsive Constituent Services
Since being elected to the State House, providing reliable and responsive constituent services has been a top priority in my office If 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.