Legislative Democrats beginning to score policy successes

Last week, my colleague Justin Snyder called out the Florida Democratic Party for a lack of policy ideas. While we have seen the party itself slow to embrace the type of progressive agenda that moved voters strongly towards Florida Democrats in the 1970s, 1980s and to a lesser extent in the 1990s, many Democratic legislators are working hard to push forward important policy changes in the state of Florida. We recently spoke about the Freshman House Democrats class, the largest such class since before the term limits era and the success they are having this legislative session.

Over on the Senate side several Democrats are playing important roles in substantive legislative changes. Freshman Senate Democrats like Joe Abruzzo, Darren Soto and Jeff Clemens have used their extensive House experience to take an active role as advocates for various pieces of legislation. Freshman Senators Dwight Bullard and Geraldine Thompson, also former House members have become leading progressive voices on many important issues.

Turning our attention back across the Capitol, three Freshman Democrats have bills on today’s House Special Order Calender. Rep. Larry Lee (D-Fort Pierce) has an outstanding bill (HB 85) that would establish a pilot program in his home county (St Lucie)  to establish pilot project in St. Lucie County to assist low-income, at-risk children in developing literacy and reading skills. This bill has won bi-partisan acclaim and support through the committee process. Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has a bill (HB 939)  to fix provisions in separating calculation of insurance premium taxes from financial reporting for bail bond premiums. Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) has sponsored HB 99, a bill that will change minimum sentencing requirements in drug cases.  This bill could save the state upwards of $50 million over the next five years and would institute a fundamental fairness (and logic) in drug  related cases currently missing.

While we have been quick to point out some of the dysfunction within the Florida Democratic Party as session rolls on TFS will continue to highlight the very significant policy success achieved by Democrats in both the House and Senate. Many Democratic legislators are doing excellent work promoting ideas that will improve our state and help the constituents that elected them. These Democrats deserve to be commended for working hard in a Republican dominated legislature to promote ideas important to their communities and to progressives.


  1. It’s easy to have policy successes when you make deals with Republicans. Each of the bills you reference and the Senators you discuss are less than pure ideologically.

  2. Ray Mouton · · Reply

    I applaud the success of each of these Democrats but I think most of the people in the party who work in elections would rather have someone who is standing up strong on issues against the Republicans on the floor of the house.

    One of the things that this website has failed to correct was an article a few weeks ago after the debacle on House Bill 89 that labeled the caucus divisions nonideological and personality-based.

    The truth is there is a clear division between those who want to walk with the Republicans in order to further their own legislation and those who as Democrats want to make a point about things like Medicaid and stand your ground.

    This site seems to want to ignore those differences instead trying to pretend like these divisions are all based on personal disputes. Real philosophical differences exist.

  3. Fla Dem Insider · · Reply

    People can be leaders or followers. We have a lot of members of the house including some of the freshman you discuss who have chosen to be followers. Now that is not the worst thing in the world if the consideration is going to get stuff done for their district or pass some pet issue into law.

    That is one type of legislator that is perfectly okay.
    another type of legislators is someone who understands ideological battles
    between the parties and will help the political parties win elections. Without those types of bombthrowers fighting on important issues we will never win another election.

  4. Big deal.

  5. Putting Jeff Clemens in an article about serious legislation is in itself funny.

    Nobody takes that guy seriously!

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