TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers on Monday began debating a package of bills to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates, continuing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ fight against virus rules.
The weeklong special legislative session in the GOP-controlled statehouse includes proposals to let workers opt out of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and allow parents to sue schools with masking requirements.
DeSantis has become one of the highest profile Republican governors in the country through his vocal opposition to lockdowns, mask rules and vaccine mandates. That has helped elevate his stature within the Republican party as he runs for reelection and eyes a potential 2024 bid. He called the special session amid continued public sparring with the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over federal vaccine mandates.
The Republican measures would bar private businesses from having coronavirus vaccine mandates unless they allow exemptions for medical reasons, religious beliefs, proof of immunity based on a prior COVID-19 infection, regular testing and an agreement to wear protective gear. Employers would be subject to fines up to $50,000 for firing a worker without offering the exemptions. Another provision bars COVID-19 vaccine mandates for public school and government workers in Florida.
Democrats have denounced the special session as political theater meant to raise DeSantis’ standing within the GOP.
“I am sick and tired of having to be a pawn in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political ambitions,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.
Florida Republicans argue the bills are necessary to prevent overreach by the White House.
“We don’t believe that the federal government should be in a position to force vaccines,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Republican.
The DeSantis administration has previously sued the White House over a rule requiring vaccinations for federal contractors and recently joined more than two dozen other Republican-led states in lawsuits challenging another federal vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 employees or more.
Daisy Morales Named FNN News 2022 State Legislator of the Year
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Florida National News (FNN) has named State Representative Daisy Morales (D-Orlando) Florida National News State Legislator of the Year for her unwavering commitment to the disability community in Florida and nationwide.
There are 120 members of the Florida House of Representatives, and 40 members of the Florida Senate which make up the Florida State Legislature. In November 2022, Republicans increased majority from 78-42 to 85-35 with control over the Florida House. As the minority party, Democratic legislators have an uphill battle in getting legislation passed through committees, on the House floor and signed into law by a Republican governor.
This year, the Florida National News highlights a House Democratic freshman state legislator with a proven track record of getting sponsored legislation passed and signed into law who has advanced the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the 2022 Legislative Session.
2022 State Legislator of the Year
There are many ways to measure a lawmaker’s success. FNN News kept it simple: the Legislator of the Year is one who accomplishes both parts of their job: pass laws (in other words, draft bills that pass both Chambers of the Legislature and get signed into law by the governor) and balance the state budget. Given how difficult it is for a Democrat lawmaker to get bills passed and signed into law, the more sponsored bill signed into law that are under their belt, the better.
During the 2022 Legislative Session, Representative Morales sponsored bipartisan legislation that was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis that had significant impact for disabled homeowners (HB 13), disabled veterans (HB 45), and the Down Syndrome community (HB 213).
In 2020, Representative Morales was elected to the Florida House of Representatives and served on the Education & Employment Committee, Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee, Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee, and the Finance & Facilities Subcommittee. She also served on the Select Subcommittee for the Seminole Gaming Compact during her two-year term. During that time, the freshman state lawmaker made history in the Florida House by sponsoring and co-sponsoring over 100 bipartisan bills that were signed into law–more than any other freshman state representative during the 2020-2022 term.
Here’s a breakdown of Morales’ three sponsored bills in detail and the bills’ beneficiaries.
1. Disabled Veterans
Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans (HB 45)
Representative Morales sponsored House Bill 45, Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans, legislation which provides disabled veterans receiving certain federal educational assistance more benefits. They are eligible to receive a waiver for tuition and fees at certain institutions; the legislation provides calculation for the waiver amount; requires the amount awarded by the state to be contingent on application of specified federal benefits; requires institutions to submit an annual report to the Board of Governors and State Board of Education; and requires boards to adopt regulations and rules.
Florida lawmakers passed HB 45 earlier this year. The law provides an educational benefit to disabled veterans, allowing those who qualify as residents to attend state universities or career centers, and if they’re not qualified for the 100% eligibility tier federally, remaining tuition fees can be waived.
This law was so pivotal, it’s on a path to becoming a national model.
Democratic State Rep. Daisy Morales met virtually with Louisiana Republican State Rep. Beau Beaullieu (above right) about introducing legislation on educational opportunities for disabled veterans in the Pelican State.
Morales hopes Florida could become a national model on veteran education.
“It’s great to work as partners to help disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country with educational opportunities to eliminate challenges they face when they have given so much for our country and allow them to support their families,” Morales said when the bill was signed into law. “My office will work closely with other State Legislators looking to pass legislation for educational tuition assistance.”
2. Disabled Homeowners
In July of 2021, Rep. Morales and State Representative Michael Gottlieb (D-Broward) filed HB 13 – Property Tax Exemptions For Widows, Widowers, Blind Persons, or Persons Totally and Permanently Disabled, a 2022 bill increasing the homestead exemption for the widowed and disabled.
HB 13 proposes a 10x property tax exemption increase for residents who are widows, widowers, blind persons, or persons totally and permanently disabled from $500 to $5,000. The exemption would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 2023.
HB 13 was eventually amended into HB 7071, the largest tax relief bill in Florida’s history, offering $1.2 billion in tax relief to Floridians in the form of several tax holidays in addition to the 10x tax exemption increase for disabled homeowners.
3. Down Syndrome Community
In December of 2021, Rep. Morales drafted HB 213 – Specialty License Plates, proposing the sale of Down Syndrome specialty license plates, and breaking down where the proceeds would go:
- Fifty percent would be used to build and maintain HOLLAND, an affordable housing project for independent living for persons with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.
- Fifteen percent would be dedicated to World Changer scholarships provided by Our City Beautiful, a non-profit organization, for Florida residents 18 years of age or older with Down Syndrome who wish to further their education at Florida postsecondary educational institutions.
- Thirty-five percent would be used for grants to other nonprofit organizations within this state to support housing, educational scholarships, and employment assistance programs for persons with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.
The Senate companion bill, CS/CS/SB 364, which included Rep. Morales’ bill as well as bills for several other specialty license plates, was signed into law.
Leadership and Commitment to Advocacy
As a former vice chair of the Orange County Disability Advisory Board and longtime caretaker for her adult sister with Down Syndrome, Rep. Morales used her real life experiences to author and support legislation benefitting Floridians with disabilities once she got to Tallahassee. In addition to the three key disability-related bills she sponsored, she also co-sponsored HB 15 – Children with Developmental Delays, HB 173 – Care of Student with Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders, HB 235 – Restraint of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools, and HB 475 – Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Forms of Dementia Education and Public Awareness.
Morales also brought that commitment to District 48.
With April being Autism Awareness Month, Morales teamed up with District 2 Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz to host an Autism Awareness Day event at the Engelwood Neighborhood Center, located on South Semoran Blvd. The event featured vendors who serve the Autism community: attorneys, health care companies, small business owners, and even the arts community, all coming together to raise awareness of the services available in Central Florida for residents with autistic family members.
Rep. Morales proved herself a common sense champion over the past two years with a passion for helping one of Florida’s most vulnerable communities. The disabled community is the biggest winner of Rep. Morales’ legislative agenda during her time in the Florida House of Representatives.
That’s why Florida National News is proud to name Daisy Morales State Legislator of the Year for 2022.
“I’m honored to be recognized by Florida National News for this,” Morales said. “I also appreciate this media outlet for consistently reporting on the work my office was doing throughout my term. I fight to ensure the disability community is heard, because they need a voice in Tallahassee. As the sibling and caretaker of someone with Down Syndrome, I understand what the disability community needs and wanted to use the authority entrusted to me by the voters to give them what they need.”
OPINION: Reps. Brown, Morales Top Orange County Democratic House Lawmakers in Passing State Laws
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – As the 2022 November midterm election draws closer, political ads have gotten increasingly nastier–especially in the state house elections in Orange County–from Republican candidates claiming their Democrat opponents got no bills passed or signed into law (namely Senator Jason Brodeur in his attack on State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil in the Senate District 10 race). As such, we’re looking at the Democratic state lawmakers who represent Orange County and how many bills they sponsored (in their own name) out of the 14 bills issued to them that were signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis during the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions.
Orange County’s Top Two Democratic State Lawmakers
Reps. Kamia Brown and Daisy Morales introduced the most bills (which include companion and appropriations bills) that got signed into law out of the seven Democratic state lawmakers representing Orange County.
Florida State Representative Kamia Brown: 7 Bills
Democratic Minority Leader pro tempore (2020-2022)
Florida State Representative Daisy Morales: 5 Bills
Democratic Freshman Lawmaker (2020-2022)
A Lawmaker’s Job
For anyone who may not know, in addition to balancing the state budget, getting bills signed into law is the literal job of a state representative and state senator, which is why they’re typically called “lawmakers.” The same is true at the federal level–U.S. representatives (or Congressmen and Congresswomen) and U.S. senators are responsible for balancing the federal budget and getting bills signed into law.
That said, it’s a pretty tough sell to ask voters to re-elect you if you’re an incumbent representative or senator with no bills sponsored in your name getting signed into law.
The Legislative Process in a Nutshell
Granted, the process is long, difficult and a bill is at the mercy of many people. It has to pass subcommittees, committees, then make it to the House or Senate floor for a vote and must pass there before having its companion bill approved in the other chamber (House or Senate, depending on which chamber passes the bill first).
While passing both chambers is exciting because it means the bill is headed to the governor’s or president’s desk for signature, it’s not a law until it gets signed. And there are plenty of bills that never make it that far.
This is why not having any bills signed into law for a particular legislative session (or worse, for an incumbent candidate’s entire legislative career) proves detrimental. It means the candidate only accomplished half of the job.
The Orange County Democratic State Reps’ Record
Here’s how the state representatives in the Orange County Democratic State Legislative Delegation measure up.
Chair – Representative Joy Goff-Marcil (District 30)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 1
|HB 553||Postsecondary Fee Waivers||Died in Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee|
|HB 555||Storage of Firearms by Licensed Importers, Manufacturers, and Dealers||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee|
|HB 641||Charter and Private Schools||Died in Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee|
|HB 1105||Energy Security and Disaster Resilience Pilot Program||Died in Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee|
|HB 1225||Implementation of the Recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force||Died in Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee|
|HB 1339||Broadband Internet Service||Died in Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see CS/CS/HB 1239 (Ch. 2021-24)|
|HB 1481||Vacation Rentals||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee|
|HB 2451||Maitland Art Center Structural Rehabilitation||Died in Appropriations Committee|
Vice Chair – Representative Travaris L. McCurdy (District 46)
Total number of bills signed into law in his name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 4
|HB 61||Transportation Facility Designations||Died in Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee|
|HB 109||Prohibiting Deception in Interrogations of Minors||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|HB 367||Juneteenth Day||Died in Government Operations Subcommittee|
|CS/HB 369||Motor Vehicle Registration Certificate Cards||Died in Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee|
|CS/HB 371||Fees/Motor Vehicle Registration Certificate Cards||Died in Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee|
|HB 919||Florida Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program||Died in PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee|
|HB 1587||Residential Tenancies||Died in Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee|
|HB 3457||Florida Children’s Initiative Recidivism Reduction and Prevention||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|HB 6079||Eligibility for Temporary Cash Assistance||Died in Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee|
|HB 9459||Dre’s Haven – Supportive Independent Living||Died in Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee|
Secretary – Representative Anna V. Eskamani (District 47)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 2
Representative Geraldine F. Thompson (District 44)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 2
|2021||HB 103||Elections||Died in Public Integrity & Elections Committee|
|2021||HB 105||Required Instruction in the History of the Holocaust and of African Americans||Died in Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 107||Discrimination in Labor and Employment||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 161||Judicial Nominating Commissions||Died in Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 277||Statewide Police Misconduct Registry||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 377||Youth in Solitary Confinement||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 443||Eligibility for Medical Assistance and Related Services||Died in Finance & Facilities Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 533||Divine Nine Specialty License Plates||Died in Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see CS/CS/SB 676 (Ch. 2021-177)|
|2021||HB 2579||Town of Windermere Pedestrian Trail Phase 1||Died in Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 2581||Town of Windermere Pedestrian/Multi-Modal Bridge Project||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|2021||HB 2691||Windermere Water Master Plan Central Phase (Lake Butler Waterway and N of 6th Ave)||Died in Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 2693||Windermere Water Master Plan South Phase (South of 6th Ave)||Died in Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 2695||Windermere Water Master Plan North Phase||Died in Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 3101||Oakland South Lake Apopka Initiative||See SB 2500 (line item 1607A)|
|2021||HB 3103||D.U.S.T – Developing Urban Sophisticated Technocrats||Vetoed by Governor; See SB 2500 (line item 110)|
|2021||HB 3231||Sankofa Black Cultural Tourism Enhancement||Died in Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 6081||Collective Bargaining for Instructional Personnel||Died in Government Operations Subcommittee|
|2021||HR 8047||George H. Starke, Jr.||Adopted by Publication; companion bill(s) passed, see SR 2036 (Adopted)|
Representative Kamia L. Brown (District 45)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 7
|2021||HB 179||Prohibited Discrimination Based on Hairstyle||Died in Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 181||1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots||Died in Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee|
|2021||CS/HB 183||Office of Minority Health and Health Equity||Chapter No. 2021-117|
|2021||HB 645||Postpartum Medicaid Coverage||Died in Finance & Facilities Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see SB 2518 (Ch. 2021-41)|
|2021||HB 743||Insurance Coverage for Breast Cancer Tests and Procedures||Died in Finance & Facilities Subcommittee|
|2021||CS/HB 1381||Maternal Health Outcomes||Chapter No. 2021-238|
|2021||HB 1383||Maternal Health Care Services||Died in Professions & Public Health Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see CS/HB 1381 (Ch. 2021-238)|
|2021||HB 3859||Florida State University – Florida Health Equity Research Institute||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|2021||HB 3861||Central Florida Family Health Center COVID-19 Infusion Center||Vetoed by Governor; See SB 2500 (line item 444)|
|2021||HB 3863||Special Hearts Farm||Died in Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 3865||Tech Sassy Girlz||Vetoed by Governor; See SB 2500 (line item 110)|
|2021||HB 3867||Apopka Fire Station 6||See SB 2500 (line item 2377A)|
|2021||HB 3869||Adult Mobile Response (MRT) for the Central Region||Withdrawn prior to introduction|
|2021||HB 4087||Re-Establishment of the Florida Center for Nursing||See SB 2500 (line item 444)|
|2021||HR 8057||Black Maternal Health Awareness Week||Adopted by Publication|
Representative Daisy Morales (District 48)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 5
|2021||HB 269||Definition of Developmental Disability||Died in Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 517||School Meals||Died in Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 855||Barber Services||Chapter No. 2021-218|
|2021||HB 857||Commercial Telephone Solicitation||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see CS/SB 1120 (Ch. 2021-185)|
|2021||HB 887||Lactation Spaces in Courthouses||Died in Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 1271||Claims for Medical Negligence||Died in Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee|
|2021||CS/CS/HB 1347||Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans||04/30/21 S Died in Appropriations|
|2021||HB 2051||English as a Second Language through Arts Integration||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|2021||HB 2561||Capital & Procurement Access for Minority Owned Businesses||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|2021||HB 2773||Smiling at Life||Died in Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 2775||Access Community Awareness Center||Died in Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 2855||Gateway Orlando Economic Prosperity Initiative||Vetoed by Governor; See SB 2500 (line item 2245A)|
|2021||HB 3197||Dreams in Action for Young Adults: Value Leadership to Build Successful Stories||Died in PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 3199||Grow It Forward Urban-Farm Network Strategic Planning||Vetoed by Governor; See SB 2500 (line item 1502)|
|2021||HB 3525||Magic of Orange County Conservation and STEM Environmental Outdoor Learning for K-12 and Beyond||Died in Appropriations Committee|
|2021||HR 8053||World Vitiligo Day||Adopted by Publication; companion bill(s) passed, see SR 2058 (Adopted)|
Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (District 49)
Total number of bills signed into law in her name during the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions: 2
|2022||HB 199||Assault Weapons and Large-capacity Magazines||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2022||HB 205||Gay and Transgender Panic Legal Defenses||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2022||HB 439||Small Business Saturday Sales Tax Holiday||Died in Ways & Means Committee|
|2022||HB 675||Medicaid Buy-in Program||Died in Finance & Facilities Subcommittee|
|2022||HB 1237||Nursing Home Accountability||Died in Finance & Facilities Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see HB 539 (Ch. 2022-49)|
|2022||HB 1471||Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use||Died in Professions & Public Health Subcommittee; companion bill(s) passed, see HB 5003 (Ch. 2022-157)|
|2022||HB 1473||Fees/Cannabis Expunction||Died in Professions & Public Health Subcommittee|
|2022||HB 1569||Social Services Estimating Conference||Died in Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2022||HB 6047||Wage and Employment Benefits Requirements||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 343||Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use||Died in Professions & Public Health Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 345||Fees/Cannabis Expunction||Died in Professions & Public Health Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 653||Assault Weapons and Large-capacity Magazines||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2021||HM 825||Conviction and Disqualification of President Trump||Died in Public Integrity & Elections Committee|
|2021||HB 1415||Driver Licenses and Identification Cards||Died in Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 1435||Utility Customer Assistance Funds||Died in Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 1469||Florida Commercial Rent Stabilization Fund||Died in Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 1471||Gay and Transgender Panic Legal Defenses||Died in Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee|
|2021||HB 6031||Wage and Employment Benefits Requirements||Died in Regulatory Reform Subcommittee|
|2021||HR 8071||Posttraumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day/Month||Died, reference deferred|
|2021||HR 8089||Jared Moskowitz||Adopted by Publication; companion bill(s) passed, see SR 2042 (Adopted)|
As for Senator Jason Brodeur’s recent attack ad claiming that State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil didn’t pass any laws, that’s not entirely true. For the 2022 Legislative Session, yes, she didn’t get any bills passed, but she did get one passed in 2021, which is part of her term. One is still more than zero.
All in all, Democrats have an uphill climb to pass bills and get them signed into law, as they have over the last two decades as the minority party in the state legislature. It takes far more effort for them to persuade their Republican colleagues to pass bills out of committee to even make it to a floor vote. Most bills are dead on arrival and never get heard in any committee. Even for the bills that pass the legislature, it takes a miracle for Governor DeSantis, who naturally prioritizes his own party’s legislation, to sign a Democrat lawmaker’s bill into law. That’s why Reps. Brown’s and Morales’ numbers above are so significant. It’s a tough feat to pass laws as a Democrat state representative, and especially as a freshman. Results like those are a testament to a lawmaker’s grit, resilience, and adaptability.
After this year’s midterm election, the Democrats will have an even tougher fight, given the GOP’s aggressive push to gain more seats after this year’s redistricting, and with the Democrats prioritizing abortion rights as their primary campaign message compared to the GOP’s focus on the economy–which is what most voters are concerned with right now–the Dems will have to claw their way through over the next two to four years to get anything done.
Watch this space.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org
Daisy Morales Files for 2024; Slams Harris, Hispanic Elected Leaders
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) — The Daisy Morales campaign announced Friday that the State Representative has filed first for Florida House District 44 in the 2024 election, hand delivering her campaign documents to the Florida Division of Elections in Tallahassee Thursday.
The Democrat freshman lawmaker joins fifteen others who have also filed early to run in 2024, including fellow Democrat State Reps. Allison Tant, Christine Hunschofsky, and Felicia Robinson, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.
Morales Makes the Case for HD 44
Simply put, Rep. Morales laid out a long case in the campaign press release for why she’s choosing to run for HD 44 again.
According to the release, she’s running at the urging of supporters, donors and voters from left, right and center (ideologically) who “expressed their outrage to her at the seat being given to someone with no legislative experience.”
Morales doubled down on the need for Hispanic and Puerto Rican voices in the Florida House while firing a shot at Jennifer “Rita” Harris, who won the August 23rd primary. “District 44 and the Florida House deserve a Hispanic voice that represents the people. Experience and diversity matter,” she said in the press release. “House District 44 will need more than just an activist and noisemaker like Rita Harris in Tallahassee.
“This district is an economic engine that requires an effective lawmaker that has a history of getting results in the form of bills being signed into law benefiting Floridians and funding coming back to the district. Rita Harris has none.”
Morales also reiterated her shots against Harris from the primary campaign.
“District 44 needs a representative that is not bogged down in massive IRS debt, is open about their employment history, and can speak to both the English and Hispanic communities.”
Reiterating the Track Record
In the campaign press release, Morales decided to say her track record again a little louder for the people in the back, highlighting a few laws:
Property Tax Exemptions For Widows, Widowers, Blind Persons, or Persons Totally and Permanently Disabled (CS/HB 13) (sponsor, 2022) was included in this year’s history-making Taxation Bill (HB 7071, co-sponsored) and provides a tenfold tax exemption increase from $500 to $5,000 for widows, widowers, the blind and the permanently disabled. That’s $5,000 in tax savings in their pockets.
Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans (CS/HB 45) (sponsor, 2022) – this bill, now signed into law, releases funding to cover any remaining out of pocket costs disabled veterans may have in their pursuit of education after all other funding options have been applied.
This law is on track to become a national model. Louisiana State Representative Lou Beaullieu wants to model the law in his state, which creates an opportunity for every single state government across the country to adopt it for the veterans in their states as well.
- Specialty License Plates (CS/HB 213) (sponsor, 2022) – this bill was included in the now signed Specialty License Plates law (CS/CS/SB 364), which allows the State of Florida to sell Down Syndrome awareness license plates (a first for the state) and uses the proceeds to help fund housing and education opportunities as well as employment assistance for Floridians in the Down Syndrome community.
Autonomous Vehicles (CS/CS/HB 1289) (co-sponsor, 2021) – This law made it possible for BEEP’s fleet of autonomous shuttle buses to serve the Lake Nona community.
$50 million in funding for Visit Florida (HB 489, SB 434) (co-sponsor, 2022) – this law allocates $50 million in funding to keep Visit Florida, the marketing arm for Florida’s tourism industry, running until 2028.
$3 million in funding for Farm Share (HB 2189) (co-sponsor, 2022) – In partnership with Farm Share, Rep. Morales helped feed thousands of families during the COVID-19 pandemic, and co-sponsored this bill, which was signed into to law, to continue the organization’s invaluable service to Florida families.
$4 million in funding for UCF’s Nursing School building in Lake Nona (HB 3841) (co-sponsor, 2022) – this funding will help UCF build its Nursing School building in Lake Nona’s Medical City.
Central Florida Hispanic Leaders Abandon Hispanic Political Voices?
Rep. Morales alleges that Central Florida’s Hispanic leaders sold out or abandoned the Hispanic and Puerto Rican community in the rush to support Rita Harris for the seat.
In the below video from Johanna Lopez‘s campaign, Lopez, who has a November election, was helping Rita Harris campaign on primary election day on August 23, along with Samuel Vilchez Santiago, Morales’s former opponent from the 2020 Democratic primary for Florida House District 48 (for which Lopez was the campaign manager), and others.
Rep. Morales is currently the highest elected Puerto Rican woman in the Florida House, and if Johanna Lopez is elected in November, that mantle would go to her, but the number is still just one. State Senator Victor Torres is the only Puerto Rican represented in the Florida Senate, so the total is two at the state level. By comparison, there is greater representation among African Americans in the Florida House and in Congress, yet the African American community is still fighting for more and greater representation–which spurred State Reps. Travaris McCurdy and Angie Nixon’s sit-in on the Florida House floor in protest to Governor Ron DeSantis’s Congressional maps, which phased out two black Congressional districts altogether.
While Puerto Ricans make up a large part of Florida’s Hispanic population, which is the second highest in the state compared to the African Americans’ third place, African Americans appear to be more protective of their representation by comparison.
Rep. Morales wants to see more of this among Puerto Ricans at the state level.
“The primary election is over,” said Rep. Morales in the release, “But our work is far from over. I was the target of Hispanic leaders who chose to turn their back on their own community in an effort to forfeit this seat to pretty much anyone else—because that’s the message they sent on August 23rd. What has long been a Puerto Rican seat is pretty much anyone’s seat now.
“I won’t stand for that. Our community deserves to be represented in District 44, and one thing about us as Hispanics, especially Puerto Ricans, is that we will be heard, no matter what, and we know the power of our vote, especially in Central Florida.”
The Morales campaign even dropped in a word from Republican former State Rep. Rene Plascencia, the only other Puerto Rican representation in the Florida House (he’s half-Puerto Rican) prior to resigning his seat for a private sector job.
“Other lawmakers had the opportunity to notice the dirty tricks used against Rep. Morales’s campaign,” reads the press release. “Some did nothing, some chose to join in on the foolishness, and others spoke out. Former State Representative Rene Plascencia, who is also half-Puerto Rican, had this to say on his personal Facebook page:
‘In my two years of serving with Daisy Morales I have nothing but positive things to say about her. She worked hard for her constituents, always trying to find common ground to build relationships off of while never compromising her principles. It’s unfortunate that the Orlando Sentinel tries to influence elections by twisting the truth and facts. They are attempting to do it for the second time against Rep Morales. If you find her on your ballot, please consider voting for her.’”
Morales Reiterates Voting Record
Rep. Morales beat the drum on her voting record as well. “Also, for some reason, there’s this narrative that I didn’t vote with my party, yet Progress Florida and Florida Watch, two independent progressive organizations, gave me an A+ (97%) on my voting record for their Florida’s People First Report Card. That’s higher than many of our other Democratic Orange County State Legislative Delegation colleagues, including State Senators Victor Torres (94%), Randolph Bracy (83%), and Linda Stewart (81%); and State Representative Kamia Brown (88%). Out of 160 lawmakers, I’m in the top ten. I tied for second place with State Reps. Geraldine Thompson, Travaris McCurdy and Joy Goff-Marcil.”
Morales’s Reason for Repetition
“There was a massive misinformation campaign against me in the last election, and it’s not going to happen this time,” Morales said in the press release. “Voters deserve to know the truth. Our new campaign team is ready to take on the establishment’s deceptive attacks in order to keep the voters informed heading into the 2024 election.”
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