Press Release: Tallahassee – These past two weeks have been very busy in Tallahassee with both the legislature as well as some good news for the district. The Governor held a joint press conference on Monday, April 11th with Legislators of the Panhandle to announce the Northwest Florida Tourism Council (NWFTC) will receive $30 million through a BP marketing grant to help mitigate impacts to Northwest Florida’s tourism industry as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
I am pleased to announce that my proposed House Bill 457, relating to the regulation of fertilizer, passed through the Florida House of Representatives on Friday, April 15th by a unanimous vote. As a freshman member, it is often difficult to have your bills pass through committee, much less come to the floor for a vote. I worked very hard with the opponents of this bill and worked out a compromise through the amendment process that did not retract from my initial goal in this legislation, which was to safeguard commerce in the state.
I have two additional bills, HB 455 and HB 1121 that have completed their process through committees and are ready to come up for a vote on the House Floor. HB 455 allows health insurers to provide incentives, such as reduced rates, for voluntary participation in wellness programs. These wellness programs include options such as smoking cessation classes and gym memberships. HB 1121 will give greater flexibility to the Office of Financial Regulation to assist distressed banks so that a systemic financial systems collapse never happens again. This bill will also work to insure that taxpayer dollars are not used to bail out financial institutions.
The next two weeks will primarily be spent in floor debate and voting on the bills we have finalized in committee. The focus will primarily be on issues related to the budget and similarly the many programs that face funding cuts and potential elimination to address the budget shortfall. Some programs, like the Agency for Disabled Persons and Medicaid, are of particular concern as the proposals for appropriation differ greatly between the House and the Senate. Although there must be changes in the budget, I will continue to fight for fair and fiscally responsible appropriations for vital programs funded with your taxpayer dollars.