Passidomo – Legislative Update, Sine Die

Senate President Bill Galvano strikes the gavel to adjourn the Senate “sine die.”

Governor Ron DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez joined Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva for a press conference following the Legislature adjourning “sine die.”

House Sergeant-at-Arms Russell Hosford and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Hay performing the ceremonial “sine die” drop of the hanky.

 

The 2019 Legislative Session concluded Saturday, May 4th, with the traditional “Sine Die” ceremonies after the final passage of the budget.

At the end of each legislative session, each chamber adjourns sine die (latin for “without day”), which means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.”

In the Florida Legislature, there is an adjournment ceremony, where the respective sergeant-at-arms from both the Senate and the House step outside their chambers holding up a handkerchief. When they meet in between the chambers, they both drop the handkerchiefs, signifying the end of the legislative session.

Each year, the Legislature is required by the Florida Constitution to develop and pass a balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  This year’s budget process came to a close this past week when the budget passed 38-0 in the Florida Senate.  The Legislature adjourned, and the budget now heads to Governor DeSantis for his review and signature.

This year’s budget prioritizes Florida’s PreK-12 education system, while still giving $121 million to Florida’s citizens in tax relief, investing $1.85 billion for Hurricane Michael relief, and devoting more than $680 million to water quality and protection projects.

Environment

We dedicated more than $6.1 billion to the protection and restoration of our environment in Florida. The funding supports a wide range of programs, including:

·         $23 million to the Department of Citrus, with more than $16 million devoted to addressing Citrus Health and Crop Decline

·         $367.2 million for Everglades projects

·         $149.1 million for Water Quality improvement, including Septic-to-Sewer/Wastewater Treatment

·         $10.8 million for the Blue Green Algae Task Force

·         $4.2 million for Red Tide Research

·         $10 million for Innovative Technology Grants for Harmful Algal Blooms

·         $50 million for Beach Management Funding Assistance

Education

There is more than $34.7 billion in total funding for education in Florida, which includes an increase in funding for Florida’s PreK-12 public education system of $783 million, or the equivalent of an additional $242 per student.  Within this funding increase is $363.9 million in flexible spending, which can be used for teacher pay raises, and $285 million for merit-based bonuses.

I’m particularly proud of the additional $5.7 million that has been devoted to the Mental Health Assistance Allocation, which brings the total Mental Health allocation for 2019-2020 to $75 million.

Additional highlights in the Education budget are:

·         Safe Schools Allocation of $180 million (an $18 million increase from last year’s budget)

·         $54.2 million additional funds for school districts that receive less than the statewide average total funds per student

·         Family Empowerment Scholarships, a new program for up to 18,000 students

·         $14.2 million to provide financial stability to Hurricane Michael-affected school districts

·         No tuition increases in both the Florida College System and State University System

·         $595.1 million Bright Futures funding

·         $9 million in Public Education Capital Outlay Funding for FGCU’s Integrated Watershed and Coastal Studies

·         $500,000 for FGCU’s Academic and Career Attainment Initiative

District Projects

Of the budget projects I sponsored this year, Collier, Hendry, and Lee County received about $8.6 million in funding in this year’s budget. These projects include:

·         $1.2 million for Naples Bay Red Tide/Septic Tank Mitigation

·         $381,000 for City of Clewiston Storm Spill Prevention

·         $500,000 for the Marco Island South Barfield Drive Drainage Project

·         $1 million to connect Airglades Airport to the City of Clewiston Wastewater Treatment Plant

·         $2 million for the City of Clewiston C-21 Bridge Canal Crossing

·         $110,000 for City of LaBelle Emergency Generators

·         $312,500 for Plantation Island Hurricane Irma Waterway Recovery

·         $87,000 for Lehigh Acres Caloosahatchee River & Estuary Storage & Treatment

·         $100,000 for Caloosahatchee River Aqua Vegetation

·         $500,000 for Marco Island-Barrier Island Emergency Fire Services

·          $75,000 for Jewish Family and Community Services of SWFL – Dementia Respite & Support

·         $650,000 for Auditory Oral Intervention for Children with Hearing Loss

·         $279,000 for the David Lawrence Center Wraparound Collier Program

·         $85,000 for Lighthouse for the Blind – Collier County

·         $250,000 for Florida Network: Stop Now and Plan for Children

·         $500,000 for Destination Graduation

·         $250,000 for Learning for Life (Boy Scouts Program)

In addition to finalizing and debating the budget, the Florida Senate heard and voted on over 150 bills, and more than 40 executive appointments.

Episode #9 of the Rommel Report

Episode #9 of the Rommel Report

Listen to the latest podcast from the Rommel Report!

What does it mean to be a Frederick Douglass Republican? KCarl Smith joins the podcast. He is a former Army officer and motivational speaker who has become a sought-after Political Activist. His quest is simple: To re-ignite America’s passion for Liberty and to help shape a new Republican Party. Together, they explore the issue of race relations and the GOP. How did the political Left turn the narrative against the Conservatives? Find out how a commitment to the Constitution can lead to the kind of empowerment so many in this country desire. Learn about his unique and powerfully effective strategy to help Conservatives create an atmosphere for political dialogue without being accused of racism.

Find out on this informative episode of The Rommel Report!

 

 

Listen

Rooney, Mast, Mucarsel-Powell, Hastings Continue Push To Fully Fund Everglades Restoration

Ahead of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee’s consideration of this year’s Energy and Water Appropriations bill tomorrow, U.S. Representatives Francis Rooney (FL-19), Brian Mast (FL-18), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Alcee Hastings (FL-20) today led a bipartisan group of Florida Members in urging the committee to meet the President’s amended budget request of $200 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration.

Last week, the President’s budget was amended at the urging of Florida’s Congressional delegation, and it is now up to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee to set the 2020 funding level for Everglades restoration.  Prior to the President submitting his amended budget, Reps. Rooney, Mast, Mucarsel-Powell, and Hastings had also urged the committee to fully fund Everglades restoration.

Today’s letter is also signed by Representatives Matt Gaetz (FL-1), Ted Yoho (FL-3), Al Lawson (FL-5), Michael Waltz (FL-6), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Bill Posey (FL-8), Darren Soto (FL-9), Daniel Webster (FL-11), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Greg Steube (FL-17), Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Donna Shalala (FL-27).

The letter to the committee is below and attached:

Dear Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, Chairwoman Kaptur, and Ranking Member Simpson:

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration is the annual line-item in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act that is critically important to funding the multi-decade and intricate series of overlapping project features necessary to achieve the national priority of Everglades restoration. As you know, on May 13, the President submitted a budget amendment to the Corps of Engineers Construction request for a total funding level of $200 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration. We urge the committee to allocate the $200 million requested by the President for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration during full committee markup of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act.

 

Sincerely,

Congressman Rooney Hosts Public Meeting with Community Leaders on Harmful Algae

Last week, Congressman Francis Rooney met with local leaders from community and non-profit organizations in a public meeting to address the impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) on human and sea life.

Congressman Rooney said, “The environmental destruction created by last year’s HAB outbreak was overwhelming and required local municipalities to remove 2,000 tons of sea life from our beaches and shorelines. Grouper, manatees, dolphins and sea turtles are some of many marine creatures that washed onto our beaches and led to massive loss of income to our real estate, fishing, and tourism industries. We are still suffering from the long-term sea life dead zones.

“I know that our community is also concerned about the impacts of toxic algae for residents living near the canals, and the dangers to pets and wildlife that are exposed to HABs. I am grateful to the local leaders and community members who attended this meeting to seek solutions for combatting these issues going forward, and I look forward to our continues partnership to fix our water quality.”

Below is what local leaders and environmental stakeholders are saying about this important discussion:

“I think this meeting was really productive because the people who were here are people who understand and know what’s going on in the region, in South Florida. And there are lots of things that we try to work on, we try to make a difference, but we run up against a wall. And that wall is often a regulatory wall, it can be a state regulatory wall it could be a federal regulatory wall. And these people are discussing some of their frustrations asking for help from congressman Rooney whose office is saying he will at least listen and maybe look into it. Every little bit helps.” said Judith Hushon, Board Member at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

 

“The biggest impacts from last year’s events was that public health was front and center. It was very evident that we didn’t know what we needed to know, and we weren’t collecting the information that we need to collect to make better decisions. My request of the congressman is we look to establish the research and set the standards needed to protect public health.” said Rae Ann Wessel of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

“As summer arrives, we wait with trepidation to see whether it brings a repeat of last year’s waterborne calamities of red tide and blue-green algae. We’re helpless, in the short term, to do much about it. Heavy rains will necessitate the release of large volumes of water from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, creating the freshwater mix that encourages algae blooms. Warm temperatures and fertilizer runoff add to the recipe. Potential solutions involving billions of dollars in investments to store and treat even more billions of gallons of water will take years to complete. So, the best we can do right now is talk about things. That’s exactly what’s been happening. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney convened a meeting of government scientists, health experts and local officials last week to talk about ways to better communicate and respond to the next crisis.” said Brent Batten of the Naples Daily News.

“I think what Congressman Rooney heard today were some very specific concrete ways that we could get federal dollars and federal resources acknowledged to help us solve these problems; short term problems like just alerting the public when there are blue green algae and what concerns should they have in what areas, to the longer-term solutions of obviously getting $200 million a year for Everglades restoration from the federal budget, which we desperately need.” said Conservancy of Southwest Florida President and CEO Rob Moher.

It Was “Unplanned”

By Connie Ross

It actually was a spontaneously put together event. Collier County Republican Executive Committee (CCREC) hosted a movie-night and discussion in cooperation with Paragon Pavilion on Monday, April 15th. Carol Manning and Jan Face-Glassman, with the support of local Republican clubs, organized a private viewing of the 2019 movie Unplanned, and it didn’t take long to fill the theater. This type of forum has always been a well-received opportunity to openly discuss Conservative ideologies in Naples.

Unplanned is the novel-inspired true story of Abby Johnson’s 8 year journey with Planned Parenthood and her complicated personal relationships. The film walks you through Johnson’s life that begins when she joins a Texas Planned Parenthood in college sincerely inspired to do good, who quickly works her way up in the organization to become one of the youngest Clinic Directors in the nation. She eventually falls from grace when she publicly voices a concern.

Following an awaking experience that no one should forget, the course of Johnson’s life is forever changed.

The movie opens with a young wife and mother telling the audience, “My story isn’t an easy one to hear. I think I probably ought to warn you of that up front.”

Indeed there’s more than one uncomfortable scene that provokes mind-bending questions.

Hannah Custer with Pregnancy Resource Center was in attendance to lead a discussion with the over 100 community members who attended the viewing event.

Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) is a 501c3 faith-based crisis organization funded solely by donors in Collier and Lee Counties with a mission to prevent abortion and present eternal truth with clinics in Naples and Estero. Their vision is a transformed community where every baby is wanted.

Statistically where a woman goes first for help will determine what she does with her pregnancy 80% of the time, so PRC provides services free of charge to individuals struggling with an unplanned pregnancy in a non-judgmental, informative and supportive environment. In 2018, of the roughly 1,600 patient encounters, 73% determined to abort then chose life because of the compassionate approach to handling an unplanned pregnancy.

Despite the efforts of PRC, Collier and Lee Counties “documented” 4,007 abortions in 2018.

Many women go on to regret the choice to terminate a pregnancy and emotionally struggle with their decision; for them PRC provides Restorative Healing Services.

Patients prescribed the Abortion Pill during the first 70 days of their pregnancy have a 48 to 72 hour window of opportunity after taking the first of two pills to reverse the outcome.

PRC is the only facility south of Sarasota to offer an antidote to RU-486. To date, seven lives have been saved in the Collier and Lee County area as a result of PRC’s services. It is not enough, however, to simply bring a child into this world. Whether the mother’s choice is to parent or adopt out, patients and fathers have available to them comprehensive physical, emotional, educational and spiritual services for a period of 16 months.

Janet Custer – Executive Director at Pregnancy Resource Center believes, “In saving a life and ensuring a better life for both mother and child! We defund Planned Parenthood every day, as women come to our clinics first! The best part is, because all of our services are free, she actually keeps the money she would have used for an abortion.”

Republican views on abortion are “rooted firmly in the belief that an unborn child, like any individual in this country, has an individual right to life that should not be infringed upon by others. The party adamantly believes that the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the 14th Amendment apply to unborn children as well.” The 2016 Republican Party Platform strengthened its pro-life plank to call for the first time, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and banning dismemberment abortion. Conservatives believe all lives have a divine purpose.

For more information on how you can help in your community, Pregnancy Resource Center can be reached in Naples: 239-280-5523 / Estero: 239-317-0015. PRC welcomes donations and volunteers to serve as patient advocates or assist with administrative tasks, join their Bridge-Partners program with local churches, or simply to participate as a Prayer Warrior.

May Collier County Executive Committee Get Update from Legislators

From Left: Byron Donalds, Bob Rommel

During the May meeting of the Collier County Republican Executive meeting, State Representative Byron Donalds and State Representative Bob Rommel tag teamed a quick update of the highly successful legislative session that was completed the prior week.

In addition, a presentation was made by Cheryl Couture, the Youth Outreach Specialist with Americans for Prosperity.

Other presentations were made by on Veterans activities, updates on the Movie Night, the upcoming Elephant Cruise, July 4th parade, and updates on the upcoming Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting to take place the weekend of May 16th.