Florida is at a crossroads. The awesome power of our democracy is being undermined by special interests, and some of the most important issues facing Floridians are being ignored. I believe the Sunshine State is ready for a brighter, smarter, and more progressive path to the future.
Our leaders are elected to represent the interests of the people. We must hold their feet to the fire so they pass the legislation that the people demanded when they voted for it. Floridians overwhelmingly supported Amendment 2 on the 2016 ballot, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative — yet the bill to regulate medical marijuana was corrupted by special interests. Instead of implementing an infrastructure to move forward, our state legislature took steps to keep patients on opiates longer and further restrict access to medicinal marijuana that should now be readily available to patients in need. Because of this blatant inability to listen to people over profits, Floridians have to wait another full year before legislature meets again to provide even a possibility to provide needed access to medical marijuana.
As many leaders have already done, I call on a special session of Florida House and Senate to address and remedy this illegal action taken against the voters.
Florida has an urgent need for criminal justice reform. A bipartisan push to end mass incarceration, stop the unequal application of laws, and ban private interests from profiting off the abuse of our citizens’ individual liberties must be a priority in our state legislature. We must change the way and the rate at which we imprison people. We need to provide sustainable infrastructure for our citizens who have served their time to fully reintegrate as productive citizens in our communities. Americans are guaranteed certain Constitutional liberties that are being infringed upon by the current criminal justice system. All Americans deserve and are entitled to a second chance and a fair opportunity to move forward.
In 2017, Florida’s minimum wage was raised to $8.10 per hour. This is 27% below the living wage necessary for a single adult. With one child, that falls to 67% below the living wage. All Floridians deserve not only decent employment, but jobs that pay adequate wages to afford the basic necessities: food, clothing, housing, and utilities.
I will #fightfor15.
The integrity of Florida’s environment is intrinsically linked to the integrity of our economy. Sea-level rise will not only lead to increased flooding, but to decreased property value, increasing insurance costs, and billions of dollars in preventable damage to our state’s economy. We need proactive legislators who will seek real solutions to this problem.
We as a nation have made loud and clear that we support our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. The current leadership both locally and nationally are employing efforts to push back these rights. We must continue the passionate struggle for full equality by sponsoring efforts to protect LGBT youth from bullying, by eradicating employer discrimination, and by fighting against social stigma.
In the richest nation in the world, our children deserve a free, well-funded public education. Charter programs drain resources from already fractured public schools. We cannot look the other way when it comes to our children’s education. We cannot hand off our children’s future to a private industry which continues to prioritize profit over people. The current charter school industry is fraught with corruption, and a lack of transparency and accountability. I will fight for increased funding to our public school systems, guaranteeing educator and administrative retention by paying them what our educators deserve.
Representing our constituents can no longer be a part-time job. Florida’s legislature meets for only 60 days every year, but with a population of over 20 million, Florida is the third-most populous state in the country. The notion that the complexities of legislation and the many needs of the people can be adequately assessed within such a brief period is not only a gross miscalculation on the part of our state’s government, but a failure to ensure that the people are properly represented.
It is critical that we address the variety of issues women are facing in the United States today. The resurgent right wing is actively pushing back against all of our achievements. We must not only oppose this regression — we must fight for full equality. This means providing a minimum of 12 weeks paid maternity leave, guaranteeing pay equity, expanding and protecting reproductive rights, strengthening the WIC program for expecting mothers, and making healthcare a right so that women are not unfairly burdened by our biology. This begins by electing more qualified women leaders to provide a truly representative voice in all levels of government.