Melo Minute – February 19th

What We’ve Been Up To

Hello and welcome to the Melo Minute! The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed about the happenings in our district, in Tallahassee, and to outline the current actions my team and I are taking to serve you. I’m excited about having the opportunity to effectively communicate with all of you.

This past week the majority of my time was spent in Tallahassee in Committees so this will be the bulk of our first issue!

Notable Committee Vote

HB 233 – Intellectual Freedom in Postsecondary Education
• This bill came before the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee of which I am a member of. This bills creates a survey for colleges and universities to conduct a study on intellectual/political diversity on their campuses, ensures that students maintain their First Amendment right to express their political ideologies whilst in the college/university setting, allows students to record their classes (they may only publish recordings with professor consent), and provides basic legal protections to students and student governments in the universities/colleges when accused of wrong doing by their institution — such as the burden of proof being on the institution. When this bill appeared before the committee I voted yes. It passed the committee with a 12-6 vote.

The Latest In Tallahassee

HB 9 Passes Through the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee

HB 9 establishes criminal penalties and authorizes civil remedies to protect Floridians from fraud as they seek to get vaccinated during a pandemic. This bill works to penalize scammers that use fake websites to lure unsuspecting Floridians into paying for COVID-19 vaccines or appointments that never materialize. HB 9 passed its second committee on Wednesday, February 10, and is now headed to the Judiciary Committee.
Conversations at the Capitol

Here are the main issues the Florida House began to tackle this week:

• Combating flooding and sea level rise
• Enhancing opportunities to help job seekers pursue careers
• Identifying the most in-demand careers for Florida’s workforce
• Highlighting what went right in Florida’s 2020 elections and looking at ways to improve our system

Some of the Bills I’ve Filled

HB 617 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions

• This bill works to provide a check and balance on state agencies so that any attempt to adopt or enforce state/regional programs regulating gas emissions must first come through the Legislature for approval. This would ensure that the Florida House and Senate have a seat at the table when making such decisions.

HB 579 – Safe Harbor

• This bill works to protect businesses responding to declared emergencies from having specific civil causes of action put against them. For example, should a subcontractor — not officially classified as employee — try to claim additional compensation or aid from a business, due to a business’ response from a declared emergency potentially changing their classification, they would not be able to do so under this bill.

HB 3773 – LaBelle Wastewater Treatment Plant System Improvements and Expansion

• Ensuring clean water is a necessity for Florida. That is why this appropriations request is asking for $15.9 million from the Department of Environmental Protection to fund the LaBelle Wastewater Treatment Plant’s improvements and expand it.

HB 3761 – Collier County Golden Gate Senior Center Expansion

• This an appropriations bill that is attempting to allocate funding for expanding the Collier County Golden Gate Senior Center. It is asking for a nonrecurring sum of $250,000 from the Department of Elder Affairs to fund the project.

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