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.”
Brooks Koepka wins LIV Golf 2023 Orlando Tournament
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN Sports) – Brooks Koepka (-15) holds off Sebastian Muñoz (-14) to win the LIV Golf Tournament at Orange County National, the first time the new league came to Florida. This was the third event of the 2023 season. There will be ten more individual matches around the world before the 14th of the season, which will be a team competition.
LIV Golf, which bills itself as “Golf, but louder,” features several differences when compared to the traditions of the PGA. Golfers compete not only individually, but also as members of twelve teams of four. Teams are ranked after each event based on their top three scores. Those rankings will come into play for week fourteen of the season to determine seedings. In addition, if a golfer isn’t pulling his weight, he may be replaced as the season goes on. There could also be other roster changes, just like in other team sports.
In addition, LIV Golf events feature all sorts of interactive experiences at their Fan Village, where fans can compete in putting, chipping, and driving. Younger fans can watch shows at the kids zone, or can get temporary tattoos or face painting. Loud music blares before and after the tournament play, and there are plenty of food and beverage options for all. The tournament begins with a shotgun start around 1:00 p.m., and the action ends just over four hours later, unlike the PGA, where staggered tee times and more players means a longer day of golf. Also, LIV Golf events feature only three days and 54 holes (Roman numeral “LIV”) of action, compared to the PGA’s four days and 72 holes.
The PGA has already responded to LIV Golf, announcing that next year, there will be fewer golfers allowed to compete in designated events (about 70 players compared to the current 120), but that will mean higher payouts to the PGA golfers. LIV Golf has attracted many high profile golfers by guaranteeing minimum payouts to join the upstart league.
The next LIV Golf event will take place April 21-23 in Adelaide, Australia. Meanwhile, The PGA’s Masters Tournament tees off April 6-9 in Augusta, Georgia. Stay tuned to Florida National News for more.
Magic Beat Raptors for Second Win in a Row
ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Orlando Magic (7-20) continued their winning ways against the Toronto Raptors (13-13), defeating them 113-109 , just two days after a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. This two game winning streak puts an end to the Magic’s previous nine game losing streak.
The Magic started strong, taking a 37-25 lead into the second quarter, led by 10 first quarter points from Franz Wagner. But the Raptors caught up to the Magic midway through the second quarter led by Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. But at halftime, the Magic held a slight lead, 67-63.
The Magic extended their lead to 94-87 with remarkably impressive scoring from Franz Wagner who added 14 points in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors tied it up 108-108 with about two minutes remaining after two free throws by OG Anunoby. Paolo Banchero made one of two subsequent free throws, and Moe Wagner drew the charge from Gary Trent Jr. to negate his two point basket. Fred Van Vleet later added a free throw to tie the game at 109-109. A Franz Wagner tip layup put the Magic up 111-109. A missed shot by Fred Van Vleet sealed the Raptors loss. Banchero’s two free throws put the Magic ahead 113-109 at the end of the game.
Franz Wagner led the scoring for the Magic with 34 points, while Paolo Banchero scored 23. Mo Bamba finished with 13 rebounds. Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz ended with 5 assists.
Several Magic players remain injured and were unable to play, including Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee recovery). Isaac has started his rehab program, playing in full contact 5 on 5 practice games with the Lakeland G League affiliate, and hopes to return to the court soon for Orlando.
The Magic face the Raptors at Amway once again on Sunday, 12/11 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.
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.
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