TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) – In her legislative update with Florida National News, freshman State Representative Daisy Morales (D-48) is on track to have over 100 bills she sponsored and co-sponsored signed into law during her first term (2020-2022) in the Florida House.
Morales, a Democratic lawmaker, prides herself as a bipartisan champion for working across the aisle in getting bills moving in a supermajority Republican controlled House. She accomplished this without supporting the Republicans’ most controversial bills.
Monday ended the 2022 Legislative Session for Florida state lawmakers. It also marks another successful period of bipartisan lawmaking for Rep. Morales in which she touts legislation victories for:
- law enforcement (HB 3, HB 25)
- firefighters (HB 31)
- juveniles (HB 195, HB 197)
- local government (HB 1423, HB 1431, HB 1433)
- small businesses (HB 2037)
- non-profits (HB 2189, HB 2805)
- environment (HB 323, HB 761)
- lottery winners (HB 159)
- education (HB 461, HB 1515)
- disabled veterans (HB 45)
- Down Syndrome community (HB 67, HB 213, SB 364)
- tenants (HB 577, HB 1439, SB 898)
- Ukraine (HR 1597)
- Puerto Ricans (HR 8069)
- widows, widowers, blind persons, or disabled persons (HB 13, HB 7071)
Fellow lawmakers, local elected officials, constituents, families, advocacy organizations, even government agencies call on her to be a companion bill sponsor or co-sponsor bills that are important to them, Morales told Florida National News.
Morales, a former Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor who represented Orange County voters for six years, was first elected to the Florida House November 3, 2020. During the 2021 Legislative Session, Governor Ron DeSantis signed 58 bills into law that were sponsored and co-sponsored by Morales.
In addition to the 58 bills, she sponsored and co-sponsored over 55 bills during the 2022 Legislative Session. These are now heading to the governor’s desk for his approval. If he approves them, Morales would successfully have over 100 bills signed into law in her first term.
“Every lawmaker has their own way of measuring results. I measure mine by bills addressing important issues for my constituents getting signed into law as well as bringing funding back to my district,” Morales said. “And you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to get things done.”
Morales’ Most Notable Sponsored and Co-Sponsored Bills in 2022
Some bills Morales felt strongly in co-sponsoring include HR 1597, the resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine and supporting the people of Ukraine. Russia’s war on the smaller nation has rallied support for Ukraine worldwide.
She also passionately sponsored HR 8069, a resolution designating April 2, 2022 as Puerto Rican Heritage Day, a first for the state of Florida. The resolution highlights the achievements of Puerto Ricans in American history, including Juan Ponce de Leon, then governor of Puerto Rico, who first named Florida.
In her continued push to serve the special needs population, her Down Syndrome Awareness Specialty License Plate bill HB 213, though it didn’t pass on its own, was rolled into HB 67 and Senate companion bill SB 264, which includes specialty license plates for many other communities in addition to Down Syndrome.
In light of Miya Marcano’s unfortunate death, Rep. Morales has co-sponsored Senator Linda Stewart’s Miya’s Law to protect renters, and keep incidents like what happened to Marcano from happening again.
Making Big Strides in Education
As a member of the Florida House Education & Employment Committee, Morales is celebrating education victories as well. She triumphed in her second try to pass the Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans bill, (which passed the House in the 2021 Legislative Session, but the Senate companion bill died. The 2022 bill (HB 45) is finally heading to Governor DeSantis’ desk.
She also co-sponsored the Education for Student Inmates bill (CS/HB 1515), which authorizes the Department of Corrections in each county to contract with Florida College System institutions for education services for student inmates. It also authorizes use of state funds for education of state inmates who have specified amount of time remaining on their sentences.
Morales additionally co-sponsored the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Student Service Requirements bill (CS/HB 461), which authorizes a student’s service requirements for award under Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program to be paid rather than volunteer. It also authorizes (instead of requires) a student to identify a specified interest or develop a plan for his or her service requirements.
Bills that Didn’t Make It
Morales expressed her disappointment that the Active Shooter Alert bill (HB 1271) she sponsored and Rep. Anna Eskamani’s Rent Control Measures (HB 6017) bill which she co-sponsored that would restore local governments’ ability to declare a housing emergency and take measures to limit rent hikes, died in committee.
In reflection, Rep. Morales noted how much she accomplished as well as the work that still needs to be done. She praised the opportunities she had to talk with constituents who visited her Tallahassee office during the course of the 2022 Legislative Session. Conversely, she disagrees with the governor’s crackdown on local government. She believes local governments should make decisions for their own residents since they’re on the ground with them.
“I am honored to serve my constituents in Orlando and the 22 million Floridians by delivering bipartisan legislation and a record $112 billion budget to them at the state level,” she told Florida National News. “I’ve worked for the US Government for 23 years and served six years as a countywide elected official. I love serving the people of Florida.”
Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes.
Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County, had pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, also including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men.
“Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said in court Thursday.
Greenberg’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments, and that he believed additional ones were expected in the coming month.
Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into his friend Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against the Republican congressman, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing during a court hearing on Wednesday to a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. Presnell ended up imposing the upper limit of that range.
The minor in the sex crimes case was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller wrote in court papers.
The defense attorney also said that Greenberg “has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”
Scheller also had asked the judge to take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he had bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.
Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation.
Some documents related to Greenberg’s cooperation were filed under seal and out of the public eye, with prosecutors and the defense attorney saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.
“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.
Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.
“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”
“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.
For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Fire Chief Charlie Salazar Break Ground on Fire Station 11
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Orlando Fire Chief Charlie Salazar invite the Dover Shores community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Orlando Fire Department Station 11, “The Beast of the East.”
The new 14,918-square-foot station will be built at the corner of Curry Ford Road and Gaston Foster Road where the previous station was located. The state-of-the-art facility will provide Dover Shores and the surrounding neighborhoods with a modern facility, equipped with the latest in technology and space to accommodate multiple, specialized units and equipment.
The station will be home to 30 firefighters, house four bays, four units – an Engine, a Tower, a Rescue and a District Chief – and is designed to promote firefighter health and safety while providing top-rated service, functionality and rapid response times to the community it serves. The modern facility features new technology that further enhances station operations, including:
- Individual crew bunk rooms and restrooms to accommodate and promote diversity in the workplace.
- A decontamination room with a shower and two airlocks with pressurization to further keep potential carcinogens out of the living quarters.
- Sleeping quarters and active crew quarters that have acoustic separation to allow for rest, recuperation and camaraderie.
- Escalating emergency tones to reduce fatigue and heart-rate response.
- Physical agility rooms that promote a healthy lifestyle for top firefighter performance.
- Open kitchens and dining rooms to allow for the crew to cook and eat together.
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