Summary of the Membership Meeting June 17th
Senator Gayle Harrell, Florida State Senator District 25, provided a very informative presentation identifying some of the key legislation passed in the last session and other issues currently impacting the state. Highlights of the discussion:
· The opening of the 2020 session in January was filled with optimism and plans to continue the focus on education, clean water and Everglades restoration.
· Covid-19 changed that. In February, Senator Harrell, Chair Health Policy Committee, met with committee members to review the budget in anticipation of the impacts of the virus. Additional funds were placed in the current year budget ($58M) and next year’s ($300M). However, the impact has been greater than anticipated at the time.
· Current initiatives in the budget: education including funds for safe schools and mental health resources in the schools; record funds focused on environmental issues including Legacy Florida funds for the Everglades to stop releases, Forever Florida funds for land conservation efforts including land buying programs, such as rights of way for public beach access points.
· State revenue is reduced dramatically ($878M in April), mostly due to reduction in sales tax receipts.
· The Governor will be reviewing the budget, but at this time it is not anticipated that a special session will be called.
· Bills passed in last session impacting Condo Associations: SB#476 cannot prohibit law enforcement vehicles parking on property; SB#1084 Emotional support animals must be permitted provided required documents from a physician are presented.
· CARES (Corona virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) has dispersed federal funds to counties with a population over 500,000. However, local counties are less than 500,000 and do not qualify for these federal funds. Local counties may submit separately to gain additional funds.
· The State has addressed the virus through many initiatives primarily protecting the most vulnerable individuals: five Covid-19 only nursing homes have been set up throughout the state; established testing criteria for nursing home admittance; ensured adequate hospital beds and equipment; prepared to address “hotspots” when they develop, as demonstrated in Indiantown. The basics are essential: wear masks and wash hands.
· Discussed the killing of George Floyd and the response throughout the country. The senator indicated that we must engage in deeper conversation and listen to each other to come up with solutions to increase our cultural awareness. Major conversations in the state will continue.
We thank the Senator for her time with us and appreciate her efforts on our behalf in the State government. We gained increased awareness of the issues impacting our area, which were made apparent as Senator Harrell was asked to leave the meeting early to address the Roosevelt bridge closure.
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