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.