Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Legislative wrap-up subject of next Downtown Bay Forum

Downtown Bay Forum

The Florida House and Senate recently adjourned a legislative session that seriously mobilized educators and has health care and women's rights advocates frantically calling for vetoes from Gov. Charlie Crist. The Downtown Bay Forum's next luncheon (May 26 at the Marriott on Bayshore Dr., 11:30 a.m.) will focus on the 2010 legislative session. HSC's own Jacob Coker-Dukowitz will be one of the speakers reporting on state-wide policy developments. Other speakers include United Teachers of Dade Pres. Karen Aronowitz and M-DCPS School Board Member Ana Rivas Logan. Education promises to be a major component of the discussion, as SB 6's passage and subsequent veto by Crist was one of the most talked-about issues of the session.

Jake will probably reflect on HSC's trip to Tallahassee last month, during which advocates from Miami-Dade lobbied for tax reform and improvements to Florida KidCare, among other things.

For more info on DBF and registration for this event, call Annette Eisenberg-- (305) 757-3633.

Lessons from the session

At a Planned Parenthood press conference this morning, Sen. Dan Gelber and other state legislators spoke out against HB 1143, which passed on the last day of session. The bill requires women to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion and places restrictions on health care benefits at businesses that receive tax credits. Planned Parenthood decried not only the content of this legislation, but the manner in which it was passed. Rep. Richard Steinberg argued that future sessions will be even more contentious and polarized as moderates leave the House and Senate and are replaced by either extreme right-wing or extreme left-wing legislators.

Some of the legislative aides in the room had advice for advocates hoping to have their voices heard. They told the group, don't worry if you can't meet with the legislator himself; their aides are often the best "vehicle" for carrying your message. Also, sending letters and e-mails and making phone calls truly makes a difference. The inundation of communication in response to SB 6 was one of the driving factors behind Crist's decision to veto the bill.

For more of the scoop on the Florida legislature, attend the Downtown Bay Forum May 26.

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