The Melo Minute – February 18, 2022

Bill Of The Week!
HB 579 – Aquatic Plant Management

While HB 579 is the bill of the week, it has been more like the bill of the year. Entitled “Aquatic Plant Management,” HB 579 has been a labor of love. This bill was first brought to me last year by Hendry County Commissioner, Ramon Iglesias, and water advocate Mike Elfenbein as merely a vision. Today, it is a real piece of legislation and has unanimously passed the Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee and the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill’s final stop before it gets to the House Floor is the State Affairs Committee.

HB 579 directs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) & Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Water School, to study effective biomass nutrient removal techniques in Lake Okeechobee.

The IFAS and the FGCU Water School are instructed in this bill to submit a report based on the reduction in nutrient levels to the FWC. The FWC is then instructed to submit the results of the report to the Governor, the President of the Florida Senate, and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

HB 579 has come a long way since summer 2021. Thank you to all the organizations, colleagues, and constituents who have shown their support. I look forward to seeing this bill through to the finish line and will not give up the fight to improve upon Southwest Florida’s water quality.

Click Here To Read HB 579

HB 79
Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids for Children

There was not a dry eye in the Finance and Facilities Subcommittee this week during the presentation of HB 79. The subcommittee had special guest testimonials expressing the importance of hearing devices for Florida children who are legally deaf. The lack of coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants restricts options for parents if they are unable to access the necessary medical equipment. HB 79 requires certain individual health insurance policies to provide coverage for hearing aids for children 21 years of age or younger under certain circumstances. I am proud to support this legislation that helps provide critical hearing devices to Florida’s youth who for some are hearing their Mother’s voice for the first time.

Click Here To Read HB 79

Go Gators!

Gator Day 2022 was held this week in the Capitol! We had quite a few special guests stop by for a visit. I was excited to meet the new Florida Gators Head Coach, Billy Napier. Of course, it isn’t a real Gator Day without a picture with Florida mascots Albert and Alberta. It’s great to be a Florida Gator!

Collier County in the Capitol

I was thrilled to see some familiar faces in Tallahassee this week in the form of Collier Commissioner Rick LaCastro, Commissioner Bill McDaniel, and Commissioner Burt Saunders who formerly served as both a State House Representative and State Senator. Thank you all for coming to visit and for advocating on behalf of the county’s priorities.

Bright & Blue

As a mother and daughter of U.S. service members, I am a proud supporter of all branches of our military. I am also especially proud to call myself a Blue Star Mom. The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-partisan, non-political, and non-sectarian organization. The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. has a network of nearly 6,000 members from over 200 chapters throughout the United States. This organization is a tight-knit community of “mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans.” This organization also allows Associate/ Father Memberships as well and currently has over 1,300 registered Associate/ Father Members. The Blue Star Mothers of America participates in a host of services such as letters & cards, care packages, homecomings, parades, speeches, and so much more.

To learn more about The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc click here.

Community Connection

Naples High School 5k Lowdermilk Park
February 19th
Collier County
Click here for details
43rd Naples National Art Show
February 19th
Collier County
Click here for details
Monday Night Family Bingo
February 22nd
Hendry County
Click here for details

Swamp Cabbage Festival!

Put this in your calendars! February 27th & 28th the Swamp Cabbage Festival is in Labelle, FL. There will be food, live music, an art show, a parade, armadillo races, and more for everyone in the family to enjoy.

What We’re Reading

Suspicious Fires Off Everglades Boulevard Under Investigation

Lydia Nusbaum

FEMA Denies Florida’s Request for Disaster Aid for Jan. 16 Tornadoes; State to Appeal

Michael Braun
Fort Myers News-Press

This Week’s Words Of Wisdom

The Song Of The Week

This week’s Song of the Week is
“The Everglades” by Waylon Jennings.

The future of HB 579 is uncertain, but what is certain is that I will not give up on this bill. Not this session. Not the next session. Not until I get this bill to the Governor!

“Better keep moving, don’t stand still…”

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Representative Lauren Melo
Florida House District 80

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