Reps. Díaz-Balart and Murphy, Senators Rubio and Murphy Introduce Bill to Help School Districts Accommodate Students from Puerto Rico

This bicameral and bipartisan legislation would ensure students who move from Puerto Rico to the states are fully counted in the formula used to allocate federal dollars for English instruction

 WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– U.S. Representatives Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., along with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., today introduced bicameral and bipartisan legislation to ensure that states like Florida and Connecticut receive their fair share of federal funding to provide English-language instruction to K-12 students. The ELEVATE Act will improve the formula that the U.S. Department of Education uses to make grants to states so they can hire teachers and purchase instruction materials to help non-native English-speaking students learn the language. The current funding formula does not fully capture students who relocate to a state from Puerto Rico, where Spanish is the primary language of instruction. The bill will correct this flaw, which will be especially helpful to states like Florida and Connecticut that have large and growing Puerto Rican populations.

Between 2010 and 2017, Florida’s Puerto Rican population rose from 864,000 to 1.1 million—a 27 percent increase. Connecticut’s Puerto Rican population increased from 264,000 to 292,000—an 11 percent jump.

“The ELEVATE Act is a big win for Miami-Dade County, as they receive more English Language Acquisition funding than any other county in Florida,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. “This bill ensures that states and schools receive the necessary means to provide high-quality English education to the students who relocate from Puerto Rico, who were not previously accounted for in the Department of Education’s formula. I’m proud to work with Rep. Stephanie Murphy on the House version of this legislation, and I look forward to the positive impact this will have in my community.”

“This bill is personal for me because I grew up in a household where my parents spoke only Vietnamese and I learned English in school. I know firsthand how important it is for young people in this country to become proficient in English. It opens doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain shut,” Rep. Murphy said. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure schools in Florida and other states receive the federal resources they need to help English-learning students succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

“I am proud to introduce the ELEVATE Act with Senator Murphy in order to correct the Department of Education’s flawed funding formula that fails to fully capture the number of K-12 students who relocate to a mainland state from Puerto Rico,” Sen. Rubio said. “This bill will allow Puerto Rican students to be fully counted in the annual grant allocation that states receive under the English Language Acquisition grant program.”

“As the son of a former English language learning teacher, I know how important it is that we adequately fund these programs in our schools,” said Sen. Murphy. “The failure to completely count newly arrived kids from Puerto Rico is unfair and I’m glad this legislation will make sure that states like Connecticut, with large numbers of families coming here from Puerto Rico, will get the funding they deserve.”

Under federal law, the U.S. Department of Education provides annual English Language Acquisition grants to state educational agencies, who provide most of that funding to school districts in the state. School districts use these grants to help K-12 public school students who are trying to learn English. The bill would increase the amount of funding that Florida and Connecticut—and certain other states—receive each year by fixing a flaw in the current funding formula that does not adequately account for the number of students that have migrated from Puerto Rico. The bill makes this change in a way that recognizes and respects that families that relocate from Puerto Rico are American citizens moving from one U.S. jurisdiction to another.

To see a fact sheet on the Ensuring Linguistic Excellence and Vocational Aptitude by Teaching English (ELEVATE) Act, click here. To see the full text of the bill, click here.

Rooney votes “NO” on resolution to establish how the impeachment process will be conducted

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Francis Rooney voted “no” on H.Res. 660, a resolution to continue the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Congressman Rooney stated: “As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have had the opportunity to take part in the closed-door hearings of the last several weeks and have found them to be fair to the participants; everyone has been able to have their questions answered except for one day which was unfortunately restricted. However, the majority of Congress, our news media and the American people have not had this access.

While today’s resolution opens the way the hearings will be conducted in many ways, which is an improvement, the process is still less open to having all sides represented than prior impeachments. A truly judicial process like deployed in the Nixon and Clinton cases would be the best solution to assure due process. As to the merits of the impeachment case itself, I have consistently kept an open mind and listened to the facts as presented – and will continue to do so.

Bipartisan House Members Introduce Farm Workforce Modernization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Today, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Collin Peterson (D-MN-07), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Mike Simpson (R-ID-02), and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, to provide a compromise solution for American agriculture. The bill was introduced with the strong bipartisan support of 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was negotiated over several months with input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations, makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

Click here for a one-pager.

Click here for bill text.

“The success of our farmers, growers, and producers is essential not only for our economy but for our national security. For far too long, we’ve suffered from a broken H2A visa system—making it difficult for farmers to hire the workforce necessary to provide to the American people,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. This bill would allow us to continue to grow and produce food in our country, while proving a solution that strengthens economic and national security, offers stability and permanence to agricultural workers, adheres to the rule of law, modernizes our antiquated H2A visa system, and bolsters the economy. I’m proud to lead this important legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues as we pursue a good-faith, bipartisan solution for our nation’s farmers.”

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But, farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation,” said Rep. Lofgren. “Our bill offers stability for American farms by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers. In addition, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses the nation’s future labor needs by modernizing an outdated system for temporary workers, while ensuring fair wages and workplace conditions.”

“When I speak to farmers and ranchers across the country, labor is often their number one concern. Our nation’s agriculture industry is diverse and flourishing, but producers are in desperate need of a legal and reliable workforce,” said Rep. Newhouse. “As a third-generation farmer, I understand the invaluable contributions made by farmworkers to American agriculture, and we must modernize our guestworker program to work for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers in the 21st Century.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act offers a strong, bipartisan workforce solution to provide certainty to both farm owners and workers through an accessible, employment-based program. This bill is the solution our agricultural industry needs.”

“Agriculture needs a reliable and legal source of workers. I want to thank the bipartisan group of Members who worked with ag groups to come up with this initial bill that can help move this dialogue forward.  This effort has produced a proposal that provides a better option than the status quo for many parts of U.S. agriculture.  As this discussion continues, we need to also address meat and poultry processing workforce needs,” said Rep. Peterson.

“My constituents have been asking me to fix our immigration laws since my first day in Congress,” said Rep. Simpson. “There is perhaps no more important facet of immigration reform for Idaho and its economy than the agriculture workforce. I am proud to introduce the Farm Workforce Modernization Act alongside a bipartisan coalition of members in the first step towards solving this problem. Getting our farmers’ employees right with the law will provide economic stability to our rural communities and make our country safer by creating a legal, merit-based agriculture immigration system that allows our valuable law enforcement resources to focus on the bad actors.”

“For many years, farmers and farmworkers from the Central Coast to the center of America to the East Coast have faced continued uncertainty when it comes to agriculture labor,” said Rep. Panetta. “Fortunately, my colleagues and I not only understand this issue, we understand what it will take to fix this issue. That is why for the past nine months, Democratic and Republican members of Congress and farmers and farmworkers have been at the table working tirelessly to grind out the details of legislation that protects the people that currently work in agriculture and modernizes and streamlines our immigration system for agriculture labor. It wasn’t easy and the legislation still needs to be signed into law, but the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is a big step in the right direction for a bipartisan solution that can provide the needed certainty in our agriculture communities. I am proud to have been a part these efforts and look forward to continuing the fight to pass this legislation that is so important to the Central Coast and our country.”

“Today, we announce a common-sense compromise that is fair to farmers, farmworkers, and to US citizens who appreciate the rule of law. Across the Country and in California, farmers have been calling for a reliable and legal workforce for years,” said Rep. LaMalfa. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses these issues in a bipartisan manner that will provide some much-needed certainty. It does so by modernizing the H-2A program, stabilizing wages, and instituting a merit-based system for agricultural workers to eventually earn legal status – but only after years of proven and consistent employment in the U.S. agriculture industry, vigorous background checks, and state-of-the-art biometric verification. It’s what the people who work to feed our country need. I’m happy to have been a part in crafting this bipartisan agreement and deliver on our promise to find solutions for America’s agriculture industry.”

The full list of cosponsors includes: Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-07); Rep. James Baird (R-IN- 04); Rep. Anthony Brindisi(D-NY-22); Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05); Rep. Salud Carbajal(D-CA-24); Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29); Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27); Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04); Rep. Luis J. Correa (D-CA-46); Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16); Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA-21); Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02) Rep. John Curtis  (R-UT-03); Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13); Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25); Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11); Rep. Sylvia Garcia  (D-TX-29); Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07); Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA-10); Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01); Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL-05); Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05); Rep. Paul Mitchell  (R-MI-10); Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04); Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22); Rep. Jimmy Panetta  (D-CA-20); Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MI-07); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23); Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38); Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05); Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA-08) ; Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID-02); Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08); Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21); Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15); Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35); Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02); Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-06); Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34); Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-02); Rep. Don Young  (R-AK- At Large)

The bill has garnered the wide-spread support of nearly 250 agriculture groups and labor organizations.

“After months of negotiations, the UFW and UFW Foundation are enthusiastic about passing legislation that honors all farm workers who feed America by creating a way for undocumented workers to apply for legal status and a roadmap to earn citizenship in the future without compromising farm workers’ existing wages and legal protections. Understanding that compromise is required to meaningfully improve the lives of immigrant field laborers, it is our hope this will be the first time the House of Representatives, under the leadership of either party, will approve an agricultural immigration bill,” said Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus of United Farmworkers & Spokesperson of UFW Foundation.

“We have supported numerous efforts to address dairy’s acute labor needs.  Passing legislation in the House is a critical step in the process.  We urge the Senate to work with us on this important issue so we can get an ag worker bill across the finish line in this Congress,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides an important starting point for badly needed improvements to agriculture immigration policy. NMPF would like to thank Chairwoman Lofgren and Congressman Newhouse for their bipartisan leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as this important legislation moves forward.”

“The legislation points the way towards achieving many of the long-standing immigration reform goals of NCFC and others in agriculture. While there are provisions that are problematic, on balance it is a good starting point for the legislative process. It provides an opportunity to obtain an earned legal status for the current workforce in agriculture; it codifies many of the reforms that the Trump Administration has made to the current H-2A program and provides some certainty over labor costs; and it authorizes a limited number of year-round visas for those farmers with year-round labor needs, such as those in dairy and livestock,” said Chuck Conner, President & CEO of National Coalition of Farm Cooperatives. “We look forward to working with Chairwoman Lofgren, Congressman Newhouse and the other co-sponsors as the bill moves forward to ensure that the bill leads to a solution that ensures agriculture producers have access to a legal and stable workforce.”


Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.

The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.

Diaz-Balart: I’m Profoundly Saddened by the Death of Armando Sosa Fortuny

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) issued the following statement regarding the death of patriot and political prisoner, Armando Sosa Fortuny.

“I am profoundly saddened by the death of courageous patriot and political prisoner Armando Sosa Fortuny, who died last night. Sosa Fortuny spent more than 40 years imprisoned in Cuba and received severely inadequate treatment for his grave ailments while in prison. I am outraged that the regime in Cuba continues its inhumane treatment of political prisoners such as Sosa Fortuny. The regime in Cuba continues to repress the Cuban people, and aids in the repression of the Venezuelan people as well. Renowned UNPACU activists, including leader Jose Daniel Ferrer, remain imprisoned for the “crime” of daring to express opposition to the regime.

“I commend the Trump administration for continuing to impose tough sanctions against the brutal regime in Cuba and urge the administration to continue to apply effectual pressure until all political prisoners are released, rights to expression, association, political parties, and independent media are recognized, and free, fair, multiparty elections are scheduled.

“Over the past few days, the cause of democracy and freedom has lost two great champions, as we also mourn the loss of Arturo Cobo. A Bay of Pigs veteran and democracy activist, he devoted his life to fighting for Cuba’s freedom. Through his Transition House for Cuban refugees in Key West, he provided humanitarian assistance to those arriving in rafts and makeshift boats to the coast of Florida. His legacy and life-long work will never be forgotten.”

Bipartisan Representatives, Farmers, Laborers to Unveil the Farm Workforce Modernization Act

A Workforce Solution for American Agriculture

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Mike Simpson (R-ID-02), and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) will be joined by agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations to unveil the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

WHAT: U.S. Representatives, farmers, and laborers will unveil the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation to provide a compromise solution for American agriculture

WHERE: 1302 Longworth House Office Building

WHEN: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. ET


Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart

Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Rep. Dan Newhouse
Rep. Mike Simpson
Rep. Jimmy Panetta
Rep. Doug LaMalfa

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus, United Farm Workers; Board Member, UFW Foundation
Jim Mulhern, President & CEO of National Milk Producers Foundation
Charles (Chuck) Conner, President & CEO of National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Legislative Update – October 25, 2019

Former Sheriff Scott Israel Removed from Office

In response to many actions and inactions of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

The Florida Senate Committee on Rules, chaired by Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, met on Monday to consider whether the former sheriff should be reinstated or removed from office. After a 10-hour hearing, in which the committee questioned Special Master Dudley Goodlette regarding his advisory report and recommendation, heard from counsel representing Governor DeSantis and Mr. Israel’s counsel, and listened to hours of public testimony, including from family members of victims of last year’s horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the committee ultimately voted to recommend that the evidence supported the Executive Order of Suspension by the Governor and that Mr. Israel be removed from the office of Sheriff of Broward County pursuant to the State Constitution and the Florida law.

The matter was then brought to the full Senate body on Wednesday and senators had the opportunity to ask additional questions of the Special Master and fully debate the issue.  The Senate voted 25-15 to accept and adopt the recommendation by the Committee on Rules and removed Mr. Israel from office.

Southwest Florida Unemployment Rate Drops

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released a report last week on Florida’s employment figures.

In September 2019, Florida businesses created 8,700 new private-sector jobs statewide. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate (2.8%) exceeded the nation’s rate (1.6%).

Florida’s current unemployment rate of 3.2% is down by 0.1 percentage point as of this year.  The report notes that 154,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, creating a growth of 1.5% in the state.

In Southwest Florida, the workforce has also received a boost in employment.

The Naples area added 5,100 new private sector jobs in the past year.  The region’s unemployment rate was 3.2% in September, down 0.3 percentage point from one year ago.

The Fort Myers region created 11,000 new private sector jobs in the past year.  The area’s unemployment rate was 2.9% in September, down 0.3 percentage point from one year ago.

View the September 2019 employment data here:

Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee Passes Veteran Care Coordination Bill

The Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee passed Senate Bill 104 by Senator Harrell this week.  This bill establishes the creation of the Florida Veterans’ Care Coordination Program.

The program will provide veterans and their families dedicated behavioral health care referral services, primarily for mental health and substance abuse.

This includes access to a special veteran-dedicated support line to receive assistance and encouragement from fellow veterans. The veterans aiding in the program will receive training for support response.

The bill is modeled after a pilot program established in 2014 by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Manatee counties.

$28 Million in Federal Funds Spent to Combat State Opioid Crisis 

As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, I observed a presentation this week held by the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health on State Opioid Response Grant implementation.

Over the last few years, $28 million in grant funding has been allocated to the program from the federal government.  The funding has been implemented across the state in a number of ways.  This includes evidence-based prevention programs in schools, medication-assisted treatment, access to recovery residences, veteran support and aid to local community organizations that help individuals in their recovery efforts.

To date, more than 14,000 individuals have received evidence-based prevention services, and the Veteran Support Line has fielded more than 6,000 calls.  

The subcommittee also heard from DCF Secretary Chad Poppell.  The secretary presented the department’s Community Based Care Funding Model Report and gave members an opportunity to ask questions.

Secretary Poppell also touched on some of the department’s goals for the upcoming legislative session.  This included a DCF accountability bill to improve transparency and create definitive points where the department can intervene and take action.

Health Policy Committee Briefed on Hepatitis A Outbreak

The Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Senator Gayle Harrell, received an update on the hepatitis A Outbreak from the Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees.  Hepatitis A was declared a Public Health Emergency in August, 2019. Fortunately, there has been an overall decline in new cases since August which indicates progress in controlling the outbreak.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination.  Dr. Rivkees called on the medical community, community partners, and the public to do their part to ensure high-risk and vulnerable populations receive the hepatitis A vaccination.  These high-risk and vulnerable populations include individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals with substance abuse issues, individuals over the age of 60 with a medical condition, or individuals with liver disease.

Hepatitis A is preventable but highly contagious, and is transmitted person-to-person, usually through contaminated food or water.  Dr. Rivkees expressed it is critical that all individuals practice good handwashing procedures to prevent further spread of hepatitis A. Additionally, Dr. Rivkees emphasized the importance of consistent sanitation practices for public and private facilities with restrooms and showers.

Surgeon General Presents to Senate Health Policy Committee on Health Risks of ‘Vaping’ and E-Cigarette Use

The Health Policy Committee met for a presentation by our State’s Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, on E-Cigarette and Vaping.

According to the Surgeon General’s testimony, the role of the department on this issue is to collect, manage and analyze vital statistics and other health data, inform the public of their findings, and formulate public health policy and planning from their results.

The recent outbreak of vaping-related lung disease and deaths is a national problem. According to CDC data, there are 1,479 cases and 33 Deaths nationwide, with 68 cases and one death reported in Florida.

As current topic of public conversation, the Department of Health has taken a vested interest into the matter.  Our Attorney General Ashley Moody has traveled the state to hear from local law enforcement officials about how this is impacting our youth in school.

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Launches Mobile App to Assist Consumers

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has recently updated its app to better assist consumers.

This app provides the ability to submit complaints and photos in real-time to the department.  It also supplies search records for businesses and professionals licensed by DBPR. Users can verify licenses by name or license number, search for inspection reports of Florida food and lodging establishments, as well as submit unlicensed activity complaints.

First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Florida’s First Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator Deployed to Northwest Florida

First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has hired Darcy Abbott as the first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator in Florida’s history.  Darcy Abbott holds 30 years of experience in the field of social work, is a Florida Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has proven her capability to support disaster victims in need of mental health counseling.

Abbott will be on-boarded at the division and deployed to Bay County to assist with coordinating mental health services for those impacted by Hurricane Michael.  This announcement is part of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida campaign, which strives to combine the resources and efforts of both public and private sectors to better serve Floridians struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Improve Reporting on Child Abuse and Neglect

The Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs voted unanimously to approve Senate Proposed Bill 7000: Reporting Abuse, Abandonment, and Neglect.  The legislation provides stricter penalties for failures to report suspected or known child abuse, abandonment or neglect to the central abuse hotline within the school system.  The legislation also empowers the State Board of Education with the ability to enforce compliance if a school policy for reporting child abuse, abandonment or neglect does not comply with state law.  The Florida Senate remains committed to ensuring our most vulnerable populations are protected.

ICYMI: Brendon Leslie Interview

In case you missed it, I recently spoke with Brendon Leslie on collaborative work of the Southwest Florida Delegation. Many may not realize that both myself and Representative Dane Eagle serve our respective chambers as Senate and House Majority Leader.

Other Southwest Florida members include Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and Representative Ray Rodrigues, who have both previously served as majority leaders and currently hold leadership positions in the Florida Legislature.

You can watch my interview with Brendon Leslie here:

Welcome to the Florida Senate

I had the opportunity to sit down with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) President Mike Martin on Wednesday to discuss the university’s legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session, as well as the upcoming grand opening of the FGCU Water School.

This week, the Florida Senate welcomed the following groups to the Capitol:

·        Florida Atlantic University (October 22)

·        University Of South Florida (October 23)

·        Alzheimer’s Community Care (October 23)

A Look Ahead

Each County has a local Legislative Delegation Meeting that gives local governments, nonprofit organizations and members of the public to appear before their local Legislators and present on issues important to them before the upcoming Legislative Session.  Please consider attending if there is an issue important to you that may be addressed in Tallahassee.

Collier County

·        Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

·        Location: North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Rd. Naples, FL 34109

·        Time:  9:00 a.m. until completion of the agenda.  Note: the Delegation will recess at 11:30 a.m. and reconvene at 2 p.m. at the same location.   

Lee County

·        Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

·        Location:  Nursing Building (Room AA-177) at Florida Southwestern State   College, 8099 College Pkwy, Fort Myers, FL 33919

·        Time:  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude upon completion of the agenda and public comment.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.

Kathleen C. Passidomo

Senate Majority Leader
State Senator, District 28

Naples Office:

3299 East Tamiami Trail
Suite 203
Naples, FL 34112

LaBelle Office:

25 East Hickpochee Avenue
Room J-126
LaBelle, FL 33935

Tallahassee Office:

330 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, FL 32339

Not paid for at taxpayer expense.

Paid political advertisement paid for by Working Together for Florida P.C., 133 South Harbor Drive, Venice, FL 34285.

Senator Rick Scott’s Week in Review October 25, 2019

This week, Senator Rick Scott introduced the Tariff Tax Credit Act to provide all taxpayers with a refundable tax credit beginning in FY2019. This legislation directs any money collected by the United States from tariffs on Chinese goods back to American families in the form of a tax credit. Using figures from the IRS, it is estimated that tax filers could receive a tax rebate from the IRS for approximately $180 or more for the 2019 tax year.

Senator Rick Scott said, “We know that Communist China is not our friend. I appreciate the President’s efforts to put pressure on Communist China, but in order to support American businesses and families, we have to make sure any money collected in tariffs is returned back to taxpayers. My proposal puts Americans first and makes sure consumers are not unnecessarily burdened as the Administration works to get a deal that is fair to the America economy and American consumers.”

Senator Rick Scott also cosponsored:

See more of what Senator Scott has been up to this week below.


Senators Scott, Rubio and Colleagues Urge TSP Board to Reverse Decision to Steer Federal Retirement Savings to Communist China

Senator Rick Scott joined Senator Marco Rubio and colleagues in a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board urging him to reverse the Board’s decision to shift the Thrift Savings Plan’s International Fund Index to the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Investable Market Index.

If implemented, the shift will expose nearly $50 billion in retirement assets of federal government employees to the risks associated with Chinese companies under control of President Xi’s Communist regime, and effectively use these retirement savings to fund the Communist Chinese government and undermine U.S. economic and national security. Read more, including the full letter, from Senator Rubio’s office HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott to FIFA Council: Reject Communist China as Host of Club World Cup

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Sunil Gulati, the United States representative to the FIFA Council, urging him to vote against Communist China as the host of the 2021 Club World Cup. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott: FIFA Council Decision to Support Communist China Shameful

Senator Rick Scott tweeted the following statement after the FIFA Council announced its decision to select Communist China as the host of the Club World Cup in 2021.


Sen. Rick Scott Joins Colleagues to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Export of Crowd Control Equipment to Hong Kong

Senator Rick Scott joined colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation to ban the U.S. export of crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force. Earlier this month, Senator Scott visited Hong Kong and saw firsthand the inhumane methods used by the Hong Kong police, answering to the Communist regime in China, to suppress and violate the rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Earlier this month, I traveled to Hong Kong to meet with protestors who are fighting every day for the basic human rights that are being denied to them by President Xi of Communist China. I heard terrible stories of police brutality, imprisonment and intimidation, and was horrified to learn about the inhumane crowd control tools used to silence protestors. We as Americans must stand up for human rights and American companies should stop supplying crowd control tools to Hong Kong authorities, who are doing the work of Communist China.” Read more HERE.


Sen. Rick Scott: 2022 Winter Olympics Should Not Be Held in Communist China

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the International Olympics Committee last week urging the Committee to reconsider its decision to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Communist China.

Read more in the CNBC article, 2022 Winter Olympics should not be held in China, GOP Sen. Rick Scott says:

“… The 2022 Winter Olympics shouldn’t be held in China, Sen. Rick Scott said Tuesday, referring to the recent standoff between Beijing and the NBA as well as the Chinese regime’s human-rights violations.

‘We shouldn’t be doing the 2022 Olympics there,’ the Florida Republican told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box.’ The games are set to take place in February 2022 in Beijing and its neighboring towns.…

‘Until you become a legitimate country that is going to respect human rights and respect things you agree to, we’re going to quit doing business with you,’ Scott said, also calling for American consumers to stop purchasing Chinese goods.…

‘Human rights are important to us in America,’ the senator said. ‘There’s no human rights over there. They’re trying to take them away from China, or from Hong Kong.’”

Read the full article in CNBC HERE.

Fox News: Sen. Scott: NBA more interested in selling jerseys than standing up for freedom

CNBC2022 Winter Olympics should not be held in China, GOP Sen. Rick Scott says

The Guardian: US Senator Rick Scott says 2022 Winter Olympics should not be held in China

CNS News: Sen. Rick Scott: NBA ‘More Focused on Selling Jerseys and Shoes than Freedom Around the World’

Brietbart: GOP Sen. Rick Scott: China Shouldn’t Host 2022 Winter Olympics

Sunshine State News: Rubio and Scott Go to Bat for Holocaust Survivors and Their Heirs

Florida Daily: Marco Rubio, Rick Scott Don’t Want Federal Retirement Savings to Fund Chinese Government

WABE: A Push To Have Cars Say ‘No’ To Drunken Drivers

Daytona Beach News Journal: Senator’s visit boosts Flagler’s Teens-in-Flight program

Florida Daily: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio Go to Bat for Victims of Identity Theft

Voice of America: Senador Rick Scott acusa a demócratas de bloquear enmienda sobre TPS para venezolanos


The Tax Foundation ranked Florida #4 in its 2020 State Business Tax Climate Index – this is great news for our state’s families, businesses, and growing economy.

The 2019 Medal of Honor Convention is under way in Tampa Bay! Congratulations to all of our deserving Medal of Honor recipients, and thank you for your incredible service to our nation.

Florida’s Lehigh Acres is the #1 overall fastest-growing city in the US, with several other Florida cities making the top 30. It’s no surprise Florida’s cities are growing, with the Sunshine State’s booming economy – more and more Americans are finding their new home in our state!

If you are in the Pensacola area, check out 100 Faces of War opening at the Pensacola Museum of Art this weekend! The traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian, by artist Matt Mitchell, shares the stories of 100 of our nation’s brave veterans.













716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5274

111 N. Adams Street
Suite 208
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 942-8415
Fax: (202) 228-4535

801 North Florida Avenue
Suite 421
Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: (813) 225-7040

415 Clematis Street
Suite 201
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 514-0189

Congressman Francis Rooney statement on Retirement

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Francis Rooney issued the following statement on his announced retirement from Congress:

“On September 11th of this year, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported the passage of H.R. 205, my bill to make the current moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, east of the Military Mission Line, permanent. This, along with getting a steady stream of money flowing to the Everglades Restoration projects that will fix our water quality issues, were the main drivers of my decision to seek office in the first place.

“With passage of H.R. 205 and over $1.1 billion secured for the Everglades so far, with an additional, $200 million coming this fiscal year, I believe that it is time to return to private life.  These are the goals I had in running for this position.

“I have been a supporter and sponsor of term limit legislation throughout my time in Congress and like the founders of our republic, I believe in the concept of citizen legislators who commit to public service and not public life. In fact, I introduced a bill to effectively impose term limits without a Constitutional amendment.

“I am thankful to the citizens of Southwest Florida that have provided me with the opportunity to serve them, to my teams in Washington and in our district who have worked hard every day to assist our constituents, and to my family for their support and encouragement. Our community is a special place and I am proud to have played some small part in ensuring a healthy environment and economy for it.”

Senator Rick Scott’s Week in Review October 18, 2019


This week, Senator Rick Scott delivered his maiden speech on the Senate Floor to share his personal story and his vision for America. Watch his speech or read excerpts of his remarks as prepared for delivery below.


My story begins with my Mom.…

Even with no money, my mom was always optimistic and hopeful. She told us we were blessed because God and our founders created the greatest country ever, where anything was possible.…

Unfortunately, the Left has worked hard over the last fifty years to discredit the values of the America I was raised with – the values of the America I want my grandsons to grow up with.

We all acknowledge that Americans, our country and our institutions have flaws, but the Left has worked to discredit our founders, our institutions, our churches, our law enforcement, our morals, and almost everything my mom taught me.…

I spent most of my life in business. The values that my tough-love mom instilled in me helped me achieve the success she expected – not just hoped for, but expected – for me.

I was able to live the American Dream because I worked hard. I lived out the values my mom taught me in my business career – hard work and fiscal responsibility, but with a caring spirit to support those around me.…

My experience growing up in a family that struggled to get good jobs influenced everything I’ve done in my life.
It’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be. But everyone – every single American – should have that opportunity to struggle, work hard, and overcome the obstacles.

I took those same values to the Governor’s office when I got elected in 2010. Florida had been struggling. 832,000 jobs lost in the four years before I took office. Home prices cut in half. Debt was soaring. The state raised taxes on its poorest citizens by more than $2 billion to fill a budget hole.

I always think about my mom. I think about how it impacted her when food prices went up, taxes went up, when my brother got sick without health insurance, and when my dad was laid off.

I became the jobs governor. It wasn’t a political talking point, it was about real people.…

In eight years, Florida added 1.7 million new jobs, we paid down almost one-third of state debt and invested record funding in education, the environment, and transportation.

But I also tried to fight for the values that are being lost in this country – I fight to protect life, to support the institution of the family, to lift up our military members, veterans and law enforcement, to promote capitalism and to defend the rule of law and the constitution.…
In my short time in the U.S. Senate, I’ve promoted policies that I believe support the idea of an America where anything is possible.

We need lower taxes and less regulation. We need a secure border and a sane immigration policy. We need to get health care costs under control. We need to defend freedom and liberty around the world.

But none of this will matter unless we see hearts and minds change. We need a renewal in America of the values that made this country great.

That won’t happen on the floor of the U.S. Senate. It will happen in living rooms, and classrooms, and churches, synagogues, and board rooms.…
This challenge is much bigger than politics. And the solution is not political.

It requires us – every one of us – to stand up and fight. To say without reservation or fear that we WILL NOT give up on America or the plans of our Founders. We WILL NOT stop fighting for our future.

If we want America to be great in the future, we must reject the politically correct attempts to rewrite our history, and we must reject the left-wing attempt to slander the greatness of our ideals.

America is in fact the greatest country in the history of the world, and we should not be embarrassed to say so – we should proclaim it proudly.…

I fear that the values that I grew up with – the ones my tough-love mom taught me – are becoming a way of the past. But, I believe these values – these virtues – can and should be part of our country’s future.…
In the meantime, I’ll keep fighting.

I ran for public office to fight for the country I was raised in because that is the country our children and grandchildren deserve.

They deserve what my mom gave me – a free country with unlimited potential for every citizen.
I hope everyone will join me in this fight.

See more of what Senator Scott has been up to this week below.


Sen. Rick Scott Announces TIPS Act to Address FBI Failures

Senator Rick Scott joined family members of the victims of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to announce his Threat Information Protocol for Sharing (TIPS) Act to hold the FBI accountable for its failures to address critical deficiencies in its handling of actionable intelligence. This legislation is supported by Stand with Parkland, an organization founded by the family members of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the 17 souls that were taken from us in a brutal act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Following the tragedy, we all worked together to pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act to make our schools safer and prevent future tragedies, but we aren’t finished. We cannot accept the repeated failures of the FBI to properly investigate and act on specific tips received about the Parkland shooter, as well as other perpetrators of mass violence in Florida. I’m proud to stand with the family members of the victims to announce the TIPS Act, which bridges the gap between federal and state law enforcement agencies by mandating information sharing of all state-specific criminal intelligence tips. This is about getting information on threats into the hands of the right people, who can ultimately prevent violence and protect our families.” Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott to Donate Third Quarter Senate Salary to the Navy SEAL Foundation

Senator Rick Scott announced he will donate his third quarter Senate salary to the Navy SEAL Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and its families.

Senator Rick Scott said, “As a Navy veteran myself, I know firsthand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform, and their families, make to serve our nation. I’m proud to support the Navy SEAL Foundation and their incredible efforts to support our American heroes and their families. Throughout my time as Governor, I made it my mission to make sure our military, veterans and their families have every resource they need to be successful. And as a United States Senator, I will never stop fighting to give back to the selfless heroes who have given so much to our amazing nation.” Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Introduces Legislation to Support Victims of Identify Theft

Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Shelley Moore Capito, Deb Fischer, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn introduced the Identity Theft Victims Protection Act to support victims of identity theft and help them recover quicker. This legislation will hold identity thieves accountable by adding the fraudulent actions to the perpetrator’s credit history, instead of the innocent victim’s credit history.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Identity theft is a real issue that takes a serious emotional and financial toll on families across our nation. Too often, victims of identity theft are left dealing with the effects on their credit history years after the crime. The Identity Theft Victims Protection Act holds identity thieves accountable by removing fraudulent transactions from an innocent victim’s credit history, and transferring it to the criminal’s history instead. This common-sense legislation will improve the lives of so many Americans who have spent weeks, months, and even years, seeking relief after the crime.” Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott: U.S. Must Stay Strong in Trade Talks with Communist China

Senator Rick Scott released the following statement after Communist China requested another round of trade talks with the United States.

Senator Rick Scott said, “While it’s positive the United States is working towards a deal that would require Communist China to buy more U.S. agriculture products, let’s remember – Communist China never lives up to the bargain. Communist China is stealing our technology and refuses to open their markets to foreign goods as required by their agreement to be part of the WTO. They are militarizing the South China Sea, even after they promised President Obama they wouldn’t, and breaking the agreement to give Hong Kong autonomy and freedom. Communist China is attacking religious freedom by detaining possibly more than one million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group in China, in internment and re-education camps. Earlier this year, Communist China agreed to buy more U.S. soy beans, but we haven’t seen that happen. They agreed to buy agriculture products earlier this year and didn’t do it, so why should we believe them now?”  Read more HERE.

Senators Rick Scott and Tom Udall Introduce Legislation to Prevent Drunk Driving

Senators Rick Scott and Tom Udall introduced bipartisan legislation to help prevent drunk driving and save thousands of lives. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act of 2019 will promote the research and development of advanced alcohol detection software and will require the implementation of such technology in new motor vehicles. Watch video of the announcement HERE.

Senator Rick Scott said, “It is heartbreaking that we have lost so many to the irresponsible actions of drunk drivers. Now is the time to act so we never have to experience another tragedy. I’m proud to join Senator Udall to introduce the RIDE Act, which promotes the development of critical alcohol detection technology that could save 7,000 lives every year. One life lost is too many, and this technology will go a long way in protecting our families and communities.” Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott: Taxpayers Win When We Hold Universities Accountable for Student Debt Crisis

Senator Rick Scott released an episode of his series in partnership with the Heritage Foundation: How Washington Wastes Your Money. See previous Washington Waste Wednesday features HEREHEREHEREHERE and HERE.

This week’s episode covers the student loan debt crisis in America. Right now, Americans are $1.6 trillion in student loan debt, and colleges have no incentive to keep their costs low. A college education is becoming out of reach for more and more students – who are losing out on their opportunity to live the American Dream. Just like he did as Governor of Florida, Senator Scott is working on a plan to drive down costs for students and their families, and incentivize colleges and universities to actually prepare students for a job. Holding the entire higher education system accountable means taxpayers get a better return on their investment. See more in the video below or HERE.


Senators Scott, Rubio and Cornyn Introduce Bill to Modernize NASA Contracting Requirements

Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and John Cornyn introduced the Contracts and Obligations Modernization for Efficient Terms of Service (COMETS) Act. This legislation would allow NASA to use its procurement contracts to acquire supplies and services to meet not only NASA requirements, but also the requirements of its commercial partners.

Senator Rick Scott said, “The space industry has long been an important and iconic part of Florida’s history and economy. Throughout my time as Governor and now as Senator, we’ve worked to make sure the businesses and families on our Space Coast have every resource they need to thrive. I’m proud to support the COMETS Act to build on our efforts and continue the incredible growth and success of Florida’s Space Coast.” Read more from Senator Rubio’s office HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott to International Olympics Committee: Stand up for Human Rights; Don’t Host Olympic Games in Communist China

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the President of the International Olympics Committee urging the Committee to reconsider its decision to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Communist China. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott: U.N. Should be Ashamed of Decision to Allow Venezuela Seat on Human Rights Council

Following the vote by the United Nations General Assembly to give Venezuela a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, Senator Rick Scott released the following statement.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Every freedom-loving country around the world should be horrified by the decision to give Venezuela a seat on the Human Rights Council. How can Nicolas Maduro, who is committing genocide, be allowed to participate in defending human rights? I’m glad so many opposed this decision, but I am appalled at the nations that supported Maduro and his reign of terror. This just proves that more and more, the United Nations is a joke.

“The United States should immediately cut funding for the United Nations in half. We’re not the United Nation’s bank – and we shouldn’t be paying for Maduro’s seat at the table. The fight for freedom for the people of Venezuela is not over, and every nation must stand against injustice and denounce Maduro.” Read more HERE.

Senators Scott, Rubio and Rosen Introduce Legislation to Restore Holocaust Survivors’ Rights

Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jacky Rosen introduced the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act (S. 2621). The legislation would allow beneficiaries of Holocaust-era insurance policies to bring civil action in U.S. district courts against the insurer for the covered policy to recover proceeds due or otherwise enforce any rights under the policy.

Senator Rick Scott said, “The Holocaust is more than a history lesson; it is a stark reminder that evil and hate exist in this world. As Governor of Florida, I took a stand against discrimination and prohibited state agencies and local governments from contracting with companies boycotting Israel, because supporting Israel should never be a partisan issue. And as U.S. Senator, I will continue to support Israel and take action against those who wish to do them harm. I’m proud to work with Senator Rubio to introduce the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act as we continue to do everything in our power to support the survivors and their families. Our memory and support of all of those who suffered must never weaken.” Read more from Senator Rubio’s office HERE.


Tampa Bay Times: Rick Scott, Parkland families press FBI for transparency on tips

Newsmax: Rick Scott Wants Changes to FBI Tip Line

Sun Sentinel: Sen. Rick Scott’s new bill aims to fix FBI tip line that failed before Parkland massacre

WEAR: Florida senator file bill requiring FBI to report all threats to local law enforcement

Spectrum News 13: New Legislation Could Force FBI to Disclose All Tips on Mass Shooting Threats

WFTV: Rick Scott pushes for increased oversight of FBI mass violence tips

WPLG: New bill from Sen. Rick Scott looks to fix FBI tip line

Fox News: Sen. Rick Scott says Turkey is clearly not a US partner right now

Reuters: U.S. senators target auto tech mandate to block drunk driving

Sunshine State News: Rick Scott, Tom Udall Want Built-In Software in All New Cars to Cut Down on Drunk Driving

Gray TV: Senators look to halt drunk driving deaths

The News Wheel: Two US Senators Push for New Car Tech to Prevent Drunk Driving

Nexstar: America’s cars could soon stop drunk drivers from driving at all

Newsmax: Sen. Scott: Turkey ‘Clearly Not a Partner’ With the US

AP: Rick Scott criticizes LeBron James for China comments

Washington Post: LeBron James criticizes Daryl Morey’s decision to send controversial Hong Kong tweet

CNBC: LeBron James says Houston Rockets’ GM was not ‘educated’ on Hong Kong situation when he tweeted

NBC News: LeBron James criticized for saying Rockets GM ‘misinformed’ on Hong Kong

Florida Daily: Rick Scott Warns Six Governors About Rising Debt 

Washington Examiner: Rick Scott urges International Olympic Committee to reconsider Beijing as host city for 2022 Games


Sen. Rick Scott Highlights Manufacturing Month in Jacksonville


Senator Rick Scott visited United States Gypsum Corporation, a building materials manufacturer, in Jacksonville to highlight Manufacturing Month.

Senator Rick Scott said, “It’s exciting to be here at USG as we celebrate manufacturing month and all the wonderful work done by Florida’s great manufacturers. USG has been a Florida manufacturer since 1939, and is a staple in the Jacksonville community. Florida’s incredible turnaround is possible thanks to great companies like USG, who are thriving and creating opportunities for Florida families.”

Come Visit Us at Mobile Office Hours!

Next week, the staff of Senator Rick Scott will be holding Mobile Office Hours to assist Floridians with federal services, including help with federal agencies and veterans’ resources. See a full list of federal services HERE.

Next week’s Mobile Office Hours will be on:

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

at the following locations:

Ocala City Hall 
10:00AM – 2:00PM

110 SE Watula Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471


Okeechobee County Public Library 
11:00AM – 3:00PM
206 SW 16th Street
Okeechobee, FL 34974











716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5274

111 N. Adams Street
Suite 208
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 942-8415
Fax: (202) 228-4535

801 North Florida Avenue
Suite 421
Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: (813) 225-7040

415 Clematis Street
Suite 201
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 514-0189

Legislative Update – October 18, 2019