TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Public interest groups Progress Florida and Florida Watch today unveiled their 2023 “People First” Report Card, grading Florida lawmakers on key floor votes cast during this year’s legislative session. The report card’s grades take into account how each legislator voted across a wide spectrum of issues including reproductive freedom, civil rights, public education, government transparency, safeguarding democracy, housing affordability, environmental protection, and more.
The “People First” Report Card grades every state legislator on key floor votes cast in their respective chambers – 28 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate. To achieve a passing grade, lawmakers had to consistently vote to put “People First.” The report card provides Floridians with a valuable tool for determining if their elected officials in Tallahassee are fighting to put their constituents’ priorities first or are bowing to powerful corporate interests and anti-public interest partisanship.
Some of the votes factored into lawmaker grades include the near-total abortion ban (SB 300); the taxpayer giveaway to unaccountable corporate voucher schools (HB 1); the anti-immigrant bill (SB 1718); a new predatory fee for renters (HB 133); expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” law (HB 1069); the radioactive roads bill (HB 1191); and an attack on public worker unions (SB 256), among many others. The complete list of bills scored and their descriptions can be found at FloridaReportCard.com
Here are the fourteen state legislators who earned a “People’s Champion” Award for their 100% “A+” voting records:
|Sen. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach)|
Rep. Daryl Campbell (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Rep. Joe Casello (D-Boynton Beach)
Rep. Lindsay Cross (D-St. Petersburg)
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (D-Orlando)
Rep. Ashley Viola Gantt (D-Miami)
Rep. Rita Harris (D-Orlando)
|Rep. Dianne Hart (D-Tampa)|
Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D-Gainesville)
Rep. Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville)
Rep. Michelle Rayner-Goolsby (D-St. Petersburg)
Rep. Felicia Simone Robinson (D-Miami Gardens)
Rep. Patricia H. Williams (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Rep. Marie Paule Woodson (D-Pembroke Pines)
“With Florida’s deepening affordability crisis and escalating attacks on the freedoms that allow Floridians to pursue the American dream and determine their own life’s path, it’s more important than ever to know how our state legislators are voting on key issues,” said Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo. “The ‘People First’ Report Card offers an easy to access and understand tool for Floridians to educate themselves on what’s happening in the Capitol and how those decisions impact their quality of life.”
“This session was a punch to the gut for the people of Florida,” said Florida Watch Executive Director Josh Weierbach. “Too many legislators acted as little more than rubber stamps for Governor DeSantis’ non-stop assault on our freedoms, as illustrated by their passing of a near-total abortion ban, dangerous permitless carry of loaded, concealed guns that will make us less safe, and relentless attacks on LGBTQ+, immigrant, and Black communities. Now, taxpayers are going to be left to pay the bills for this relentless onslaught of unconstitutional legislation that did nothing to address the real issues facing everyday Floridians.”
Florida House and Senate Members Earning an “A” on the “People First” Report Card:
|Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D-Tamarac)|
Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton)
Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach)
Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando)
Sen. Victor M. Torres, Jr. (D-Kissimmee)
Rep. Kristen Aston Arrington (D-Kissimmee)
Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Weston)
Rep. Christopher Benjamin (D-Miami Gardens)
Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis (D-Orlando)
Rep. Hillary Cassel (D-Hollywood)
Rep. Kevin D. Chambliss (D-Miami)
Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa)
Jacksonville state Representative Kimberly Daniels was the only Democrat to score an “F” (46%) on the “People’s First” Report Card.
“We applaud the legislators who put ‘People First’ one-hundred percent of the time, despite pressure from Governor DeSantis and powerful special interests. It is important Floridians recognize these lawmakers who fought for our families and defended our freedoms, not just with rhetoric, but with their votes,” said Ferrulo.
The interactive 2023 Progress Florida “People First” Report Card can be viewed at FloridaReportCard.com.
Commissioner Wilton Simpson Announces Cost-Share Assistance for Agricultural Producers Impacted by Hurricane Idalia
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson announced a cost-share assistance program to support agricultural producers severely impacted by Hurricane Idalia. The cost-share assistance program will be administered though the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy and will support agricultural producers in repairing or replacing damaged irrigation systems, while simultaneously promoting agricultural water efficiency and reducing nutrient application. Additional information on this program and how producers apply can be found here.
Commissioner Wilton Simpson said, “Hurricane Idalia caused widespread crop and livestock losses and severe damage to agricultural infrastructure. This innovative cost-share program will work to support our hardest hit growers who lost much of their 2023 crop and are now looking for ways to repair or replace hundreds of irrigation systems ahead of the next growing season. While this targeted program will not be able to support every impacted agricultural producer, it is another important recovery resource. I will continue working with local, state, and federal partners to ensure that impacted producers have access to the recovery resources they deserve.”
The assistance program will focus on existing irrigation systems and offer a reimbursement rate of 75% for eligible projects, practices, and equipment, up to a maximum of $150,000 per producer or entity. Commissioner Simpson raised the maximum eligible grant amount from $50,000 to $150,000. It is important to note that these funds will not cover items already fully insured. Eligible repairs will target water and nutrient savings, with a commitment of a five-year contract by the producer or entity to ensure long-term water and nutrient conservation benefits over the irrigation system’s twenty-year lifespan.
Eligibility for the program includes operations in a severely impacted county, enrollment in the applicable FDACS best management practices program, compliance with state and federal regulations, including water use permits for pivot locations, and a commitment to minimal tillage and conservation-based practices. The maximum reimbursement amount is set at $150,000 per producer or entity per contract.
Eligible projects, tools, and equipment include but are not limited to pump bowl upgrades, irrigation retrofits, variable rate irrigation systems, electrical conductivity mapping, precision soil sampling, soil moisture sensors, new control panels, irrigation system automation, flow meters, automatic shutoff devices, fertigation systems, weather stations, variable frequency drives, and other efficiencies or enhancements identified by the Mobile Irrigation Lab.
Through existing statutory authority and agency budget, FDACS will initially use allocated funds for cost-share. Given the substantial cost of equipping irrigation systems with precision agriculture technology, the department is actively exploring additional funding avenues to assist more producers.
This cost-share assistance program is in addition to a variety of other agricultural recovery resources offered by state, local, and federal partners, including:
- Bridge Loan for Ag Producers
- Disaster Programs Administered by FSA [ ]
- Natural Disasters and Crop Insurance [ ]
- Hurricane Idalia Relief Fund
- 2023 Agriculture Disaster Impact Assessment [ ]
- Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool
- Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
- Livestock Indemnity Program
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program
- Tree Assistance Program
- Emergency Forest Restoration Program
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program
- Emergency Watershed Protection Program
- Farm Loan Discovery Tool
- Disaster Work Log [ ]
- Cash Payments ECP Guidance [ ]