Last week: Crisis in Syria; crisis of affordable healthcare; budget crisis; education crisis. We go from crisis to crisis yet the real crisis is a lack of trust in our elected officials. Let’s stop the political name-calling and prioritize America’s needs. Elected officials aren’t chosen to pursue political power over the people’s interests. If we as legislators want to lead in a time of crisis, we must set aside personal ambition and earn the people’s trust. The change starts with us. These are monumental issues; only by working together can we solve them as Americans or we will lose as partisans.
Looking ahead: A discussion about the economy is meaningless without the mention of education. The big gorilla in the room on any discussion of economic growth is the lack of direction in our education policy. The school year has already begun for 2,587,554 kindergarten through 12th grade students, yet Florida lacks an Education Commissioner and College Chancellor. Not only are we lacking personnel, but we lack policy. This is the year that Florida is projected to transition into Common Core Standards. The vacuum in direction and leadership must be addressed first before our economy can grow.
Last week: During an eight-hour Senate Select Committee meeting, witnesses presented a bag of green, toxic water from the St. Lucie and Martin County waterways. The panel handled it carefully, as testimony warned that human contact could lead to liver damage. As we know, water flows south. As a State Senate Representative from Palm Beach and Broward, the counties just south of this polluted water, this is important an important issue for thousands of people of this area. We must find short and long-term solutions that work for our waterways and to ensure public health is not adversely affected. Through Chairman Senator Joe Negron, we are formulating a proposal for the Governor, which may include calling for a state of emergency.
Last week: The verdict in the George Zimmerman case sparked a heated national debate about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. As a criminal attorney and former prosecutor, my instinct is to examine the laws and circumstances around this case. I have worked closely with families that suffered the loss of a child at the hands of violence, and there is no circumstance more heart-wrenching. My hope is that the debate leads to constructive action for Florida. It is incumbent upon us legislators to heed to the will of the people and address this issue in an open, transparent way.
Looking ahead: The environment along Florida’s coast is changing rapidly, affecting sea life, businesses, tourists and Florida residents. Senate President Don Gaetz appointed me to serve on the Select Committee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin. The estuary is home to a diverse species of native marine life including a large population of dolphins and manatees —populations of which have been dying of unknown causes. In the coming months, this Select Committee will investigate policies, spending and any governmental activities affecting the area and will develop recommendations to improve water management. Florida cannot grow without assuring our water quality.
Last week: Last summer Broward Country experienced another death from parasailing. Senator Sachs will file the White-Miskell Bill for greater oversight. This bill is named after two tourists who died while parasailing in Broward County. Florida is again in the national news as a popular water sport destination which has eluded regulation, causing another tragic accident involving two Indiana teenagers. Senator Sachs announced the refilling of the White-Miskell Bill on parasailing Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Maria Sachs is committed to making sure her bill on parasailing becomes law and protecting all Floridians.
Looking ahead: The coastal areas of Broward and Pompano are bracing for our first tropical storm. With our preparation must come a review of property insurance policies. For that reason, Senator Sachs is hosting a timely workshop on property insurance issues all along our most vulnerable coast. Homeowners will have the opportunity to speak directly with insurance regulators from Tallahassee to discuss their policies. It is crucial to be aware of whether or not your policy includes protection for evacuation, roof and structural damage, or mold. Experts and consumer advocates will give you straight-forward answers to all of your insurance questions.
Looking ahead: The U.S. Supreme Court handed down very important decisions last week interpreting our constitutional rights. As Floridians, we witnessed first-hand during last year’s election the consequences of enacting laws that affect access of citizens to the voting booths. While celebrating our nation’s independence this week, it is important that we stay current and involved in the public discussion. I anticipate our fellow citizens and organizations across the country to respond to rulings on voter suppression, affirmative action and DOMA. Gauging and being a part of public opinion during key civil rights moments is crucial to our history and future.
Last week: Civic engagement is growing in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Last week, the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association (ACDDA) hosted Town Hall meetings, and the Palm Beach and Broward Legislative Delegations hosted Medicaid Town Hall meetings. I had the opportunity to speak at the ACDDA and Medicaid meetings in Broward. There was a heated discussion at the Broward County Commission to a standing room only crowd. A proactive community that engages with their elected officials is imperative to the success of our democracy. I am proud to be a part of an engaged community here in South Florida.