On Monday, I had the tremendous honor of being designated as the successor to Speaker Will Weatherford as the next Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for the 2014-2016 legislative term. I could not be prouder to be the first Speaker of the House from the Space Coast. I am truly humbled by this honor that has been bestowed upon me. I thank my colleagues in the House for their support and trust, and I also thank all of you for the opportunity to serve District 51 in the Florida House of Representatives.I’m excited for what the next few years will bring, and I look forward to working to keep Florida the best state to live, work, and raise a family.You can view the video of my designation ceremony by clicking here.
Speaker Designation Ceremony
2013 Legislative Session Begins with Passage of Major Elections Reform
Tuesday marked the opening day of the 2013 Legislative Session. After morning remarks from Speaker Will Weatherford and the State of the State Address from Governor Rick Scott,
the House immediately got to work, voting in favor of HB 7013, a bill designed to strengthen the elections process in Florida.
This legislation will resolve many of the issues that occurred during the 2012 General Election and help ensure future elections run smoothly. The bill provides for a minimum of 8 days of early voting and a maximum of 14, with between 64-168 early voting hours. The bill also expands the number of locations that can be used as early voting sites and limits the number of words in a constitutional amendment summary.
I believe HB 7013 will restore confidence in Florida’s election system. It was promising to see this important bill receive great bipartisan support, passing by a 118-1 margin.
Wednesday was Space Day at the Capitol. The space industry once again showed a strong presence in the Capitol, meeting with legislators, presenting exhibits, and showing a video message to legislators from American astronauts currently onboard the International Space Station. I was honored to be given the opportunity to speak in favor of the space industry and our Kennedy Space Center in front of my legislative colleagues, KSC administrators, and the public. Space Day is always an exciting day at the Capitol, and I am confident that the Legislature will keep working to expand and diversify the space industry in our state.
This was a busy week in the Florida House. Here is a brief summary of some notable legislation heard by House committees this week.
HB 7011 – Florida Retirement System
HB 7011 would create 401(k)-style retirement plans for all new state employees beginning in 2014. Pension reform is critically important to the long-term financial health of our state. A recent Pew Report found that states had a staggering $757 billion deficit in their retirement systems. We cannot allow Florida to ever find itself in the precarious position that other states such as Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, among many others, are finding themselves in. Those states have failed to make full pension contributions, they have cut benefits for retirees, and they have taken other painful steps that hurt retirees, state employees, and taxpayers in an attempt to fix their unsustainable pension systems.
HB 7011 takes important steps to strengthen Florida’s retirement system for the future so that we don’t ever find ourselves in the same position as the states I mentioned above. Actuarial projections show this plan will save taxpayers $12 million by 2016, and almost $10 billion over the next 30 years.
The Everglades Forever Act (EFA) is the primary Florida law pertaining to the management, protection, and restoration of the Everglades. This bill amends the Everglades Forever Act to help move the final phase of Everglades restoration forward. This bill passed unanimously out of the State Affairs Committee, which I chair.
HB 867 – Parent Empowerment in Education
The House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee passed HB 867 on Thursday. This legislation would allow the parents of students at a failing school to petition their local school board to implement turnaround options at the school. Turnaround options could include converting the school to a district-managed turnaround school or even a charter school.
HB 13 – Use of Wireless Communications Devices while Driving
HB 13 passed its first committee of reference earlier this week and would make it illegal to text while driving and creates penalties for those who violate the law. Texting while driving would be considered a secondary offense under this legislation.
On Monday, the House’s Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) voted against drafting legislation that would authorize the expansion of Medicaid in Florida under the federal healthcare law. I believe that there should be a safety net for Floridians in need; however, I share the committee’s view, and I do not support the expansion of Medicaid because I am not convinced that such an expansion is in the long-term best interest of Florida’s financial stability.
Follow the Florida House on your Mobile Devices
The Florida House has a new app available for download on your smartphones and tablets. The FL House app will allow you to follow everything going on with the Florida House right from your fingertips. You can watch committees or session, research legislation, find out information about your legislators, and more. The app is free to download and is available in the iTunes store.Also, for updates on House District 51, be sure to follow me on Facebook (Steve Crisafulli) and Twitter (@SteveCrisafulli). Links to follow me on social media can be found below.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. My door is always open. Be sure to follow me on Facebook for regular updates on news affecting House District 51.