If you have a phone or a computer, now is the time to let your legislators hear from you if you are troubled by any of these proposals being considered IN THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE.
Did you vote for Amendment 4 in the last election – to return to ex-felons (with certain exceptions) the right to vote after completing their prison terms? The Republican-controlled legislature is now sabotaging that popular amendment by adding requirements to “completion” such as any fees, court costs, restitution (Money-lender lobbyists support these add-ons and Rs would like less D voters).
Florida has four scholarship programs that provide for more than 140,000 students to attend private and religious schools, funded by tax credits at a cost to the state. Now the proposed Family Empowerment Scholarship would use general revenue funds directly to add 15,000 students in the first year, eligibility based on income for a family of four ($68k Senate bill, $69k DeSantis, $98k House bill) – no longer based on poverty. In addition to the question of using public funds for private and faith-based education, other objections include that not all private schools meet the same school building codes, that private and religious schools do not have the same teacher certification, student assessment or curriculum requirements.
The sex and science censors ride again. The Florida Citizens Alliance is again trying to tell the schools what novels and text books they can use. The latest effort is House Bill 855 / Senate Bill 1454. Last year the Florida legislature passed a bill that allowed any resident, not just parents, to object to teaching materials. Now, according to The Tampa Bay Times the groups wants to ban nearly 100 books including “Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes to textbooks, including Harcourt Publishing’s Modern World History 9th Grade and Pearson’s Essentials of Oceanography” and further interfere with professional educators' decisions.
Again bills arming classroom teachers are moving toward a vote.
Instead of supporting access to contraception and comprehensive sex education, we have bill HB235 on Abortion. It makes performing an abortion a third degree felony when fetal heartbeat is detected and redefines a fetus as an unborn human being from fertilization; also cuts funds to organizations that operate clinics that perform abortions; exception would be clinics that only perform abortions on fetuses that are conceived through rape or incest or are medically necessary to save the life of the mother. HB 1335 requires a minor's parental consent for abortion although there is already allowance for a judge's approval. Unnecessary at best, dangerous at worst; most girls have the support of one or both parents, but too many are thrown out of their homes, punished severely or forced to carry to term. Too young to make a decision but not too young to be a parent?
HB 49 and SB 322 would protect girls and women in the juvenile and criminal justice systems from having male employees pat them down, perform a strip search, enter a housing unit without announcing themselves or view them in a state of undress and would also require that incarcerated females have access to feminine hygiene products and soap that is not lye based.
If you want them to reject all methods of fracking, want investment in cleaning up our waters, want your opinion heard on any other issue, call or write Governor DeSantis (850/717-9337 or email www.email-the-governor/) or our Florida legislators: Sen. Joe Gruters (850/487-5024 or 941/378-6049 or email http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s23 and Rep. Will Robinson (850/717-5071 or 941/708-4968). For any Florida Rep: http://www.myflorida.com). Last day of the regular session of the Florida legislature is May 3
Things are moving slowly in Congress but you can call Sen. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio to support making the Mueller Report public and urge the Senate to hold public hearings on the For the People Act (H.R.1 that was passed in the House of Representatives). Among other important reforms in the bill, it would strengthen our public financing system for campaigns to give more power to small-dollar donors, make campaign contributions more transparent, and make it easier for more Americans to cast a ballot.
Apr 2 – Sarasota Stands Together, 6-7:30, Selby Library. Speaker on Why Washington is Ignoring Climate Change. Apr 13 - Sarasota Dem Club lunch, 11:30, Carlisle Inn. Speaker: new CEO of local Planned Parenthood. Call 941/379-9233 or reserve at www.reserve@SarasotaDems.com