Legislative town halls give Miami-Dade voters peek at state agenda

Our local state legislators have been going to several reunions in different districts and neighborhoods, bringing Tallahassee to us and talking with voters about the upcoming 2019 Florida Legislative Session, which starts March 5.

State Reps. Javier Fernandez (114) and Dotie Joseph (108) were at the “legislative briefing and brunch” put on by the League of  Women Voters of Miami Dade Saturday. Fernandez told people that priorities for the session”are not very different from the priorities on the campaign.”

Education funding and putting public schools on an equal playing field with charter or opportunity schools are among his priorities (more on that later). Other big issues include health care, workforce housing, climate change and the environment, now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has “indicated an interested in investing a lot of resources in environmental issues, especially water quality.”

Fernandez (right) said he and Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez will file a bill to ensure that sea level rise is studied and taken into account before any state money is spent on structural improvements within the coastal protection zone.

But hear about it for yourselves. Both will be at another pre-session town hall that start at 6:30 p.m. at Miami Dade College’s Intercontinental Campus in Little Havana, 627 SW 27th Ave., in room 3103. State Reps. Nick Duran (112) and Michael Grieco (113), who also represent the area, will join them.

Sen. Jason Pizzo will join Grieco will talk to Miami Beach voters Tuesday at the Miami Beach Woman’s Club, 2401 Pine Tree Drive, beginning at 6 p.m. Miami Beach United, which hosts the forum, said it was an #ama — “ask me anything” — event, but sent out an email blast with suggested questions:

  • How residents can get involved with their local/county/state government?
  • How to reach across the divide to get things done?
  • What exactly do they do up there in Tallahassee, anyway?
  • What got them motivated to move from concerned resident to activist to politician?
  • What is their favorite snack food and why?
  • What are some key priorities for each legislator and why?

In the Northwest end of the county Tuesday, Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. will speak to a group of Miami Young Republicans about his legislative agenda. This starts at 6:30 p.m. at NQC Craft Beer and Grub, 6189 Miami Lakes Drive. People should go and ask if he plans to do anything about the blasting at the quarries that is damaging homes in Miami Lakes and Palm Springs North.

On Thursday, the Miami-Dade Democrats are throwing the electeds a “legislative send off” happy hour at Gramp’s, 176 NE 24th St. But certainly there will be talk about bills and bipartisan support.

“Join us for an evening with our local state legislators as we wish them the best before heading off to Tallahassee,” says the Facebook invite, which adds that Rodriguez and Sen. Annette Taddeo are confirmed, as well as House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee.

The admission is $20 and tickets can be purchased here.

Then there are the grassroots meetings that electeds are not attending, where the discussion about the agenda might be more, um, honest.

The first one of these is Monday when local experts on immigration, gun control and the environment will talk about upcoming legislation and the debates that will precede them. Tomas Kennedy of Florida Immigration Coalition, Gaby Padron Lowenstein of Moms Demand Action and Dustin Thaler of the Miami-Dade Democratic Environmental Caucus will also answer questions from the audience.

The Miami Workers Center, NLIRH FL Latina Advocacy Network – FL LAN, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Catalyst Miami, Florida Voices for Health Coalition, The New Florida Majority, Planned Parenthood and several other community organizations will get together for a community legislative briefing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at CIC Miami, 1951 NW 7th Ave, #600. They will go over the post-elections landscape, issues that impact South Florida, legislative priorities, and “mobilization opportunities” to visit Tallahassee.

Kennedy, the immigration activist, will be at both meetings to talk about bills the groups are supporting — like a heat stress bill providing relief to farmworkers — and bills they are opposing, like the anti-sanctuary bill being pushed by Sen. Joe Gruters, who is also the chair of the Republican Party of Florida (more on that later).

Again, the legislative session starts March 5 and lasts 60 days, ending May 3.

Legislative town halls give Miami-Dade voters peek at state agenda