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Representative Angie Nixon: Florida’s 2024 Legislative Session was One Big Missed Opportunity

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Tallahassee, Fla. – With Florida’s 2024 Legislative Session finally complete, it was clear that the elite corporate donors of Florida’s ambitious Republican politicians were the only winners. Session was a missed opportunity to serve the people of Florida whose top priorities were not addressed by Governor Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies in the legislature.

“Whether we’re talking about Florida’s youth, working families, or retirees, regardless of party affiliation, nearly everyone continues to struggle under Florida’s affordability crisis. We have skyrocketing property and auto insurance rates, along with the endless rise in housing and utility costs and Republican leaders have wasted this opportunity to provide real relief,” said Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville).

“Instead, we’ve seen too many attacks on the communities that struggle, not only with meeting their basic needs, but with feeling safe in their communities and hopeful about their futures. All Floridians deserve the freedom to be healthy and live safely while achieving prosperity through their hard work, but Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican leaders have failed to do their part in making it a reality.”

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North Florida News

Rep. Tant: HB 7063 Goes into Effect on Monday, July 1

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Monday, July 1st, HB 7063, Anti-human Trafficking will take effect and officially become law.

Part of this bill, Section 7, was worked in by Representative Allison Tant (D-Tallahassee) to create new language concerning contracts between governmental and nongovernmental entities in Florida. This language ensures that any nongovernmental entity wanting to do business with a governmental entity in Florida must confirm under penalty of perjury that they do “not use coercion for labor or services.”

“Exposing more crimes in which people were trafficked will ultimately lead to a safer community for everyone,” says Representative Tant. “I was glad to see this language included in HB 7063 and I am hopeful for the changes it will bring.”

Brought forward by Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor, this same language was adopted by Leon County in 2021 and was brought before members of the Legislature this session. “Thanks to Representative Allison Tant, it is now harder for human traffickers to operate in Florida,” said Commissioner Minor. “With this new policy becoming law, we’re telling unscrupulous organizations which profit from coerced labor that they cannot do business with our state and local governments. Not only does it protect vulnerable workers from human trafficking, but it also supports the overwhelming number of Florida businesses that conduct business honestly and pay their employees fairly. We’re grateful to Rep. Tant for her leadership in the legislature and for working to make this a reality.”

Robin Hassler Thompson, Executive Director of the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center also helped advocate for this bill alongside Commissioner Minor. “Everyone in our community has a role in ending sex and labor trafficking. This bill goes a long way to making sure that local taxpayer dollars do not end up in the hands of human traffickers,” said Ms. Thompson. “The Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center is extremely grateful to Representative Allison Tant for standing with human trafficking survivors and being their advocate in the Florida Legislature.”

This bill does many other things including extending the statutory authorization for the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking and ensuring that the hotline number is included on human trafficking signs.

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North Florida News

Senator Gayle Harrell endorsed by Kathleen Passidomo, GOP Senate Leaders for re-election

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRCC) announced in a press release that Senate leaders President Kathleen Passidomo, President-Designate Ben Albritton and Senators Jim Boyd and Jay Trumbull today endorse Gayle Harrell for Senate District 31.

Joint Statement from Senate Leaders Passidomo, Albritton, Boyd and Trumbull

“Gayle brings an unparalleled health care expertise, a relentless commitment to protecting our waterways and a steadfast drive for preserving parental rights to the Florida Senate on behalf of the hard working Floridians she serves. She is an advocate for doing the right thing, putting people first and ensuring access to opportunity for all. We are proud to endorse Gayle Harrell for the Florida Senate because no one will work harder to be a voice for Senate District 31.”

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North Florida News

AG Moody Shuts Down Fake Websites Scamming SunPass Users

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Standing with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Transportation at a toll plaza in Orlando today, Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert warning Floridians about a concerning new smishing scam targeting drivers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that scammers are sending fraudulent text messages to individuals claiming unpaid toll fees and providing links to settle the alleged debts. However, these links are malicious and designed to steal victims’ money. These scams are also being seen targeting E-ZPass users. Attorney General Moody’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit, working with FDLE, recently shut down 10 imposter websites.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Cybercriminals are sending text messages to thousands of unsuspecting drivers in the hopes that some of them will be tricked into paying a toll fee for a violation that never occurred. While this smishing scam is happening across the nation, our Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit worked closely with FDLE to shut down 10 fraudulent sites designed to mimic the official SunPass website and steal payments from drivers who received their fake text messages.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Deputy Commissioner Vaden Pollard said, “FDLE agents believe there could be hundreds of victims in Florida who received a fraudulent text message saying they owed money to SunPass. FDLE’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit was able to quickly seize the fraudulent websites, stopping the victimization. Thanks to Attorney General Ashley Moody, FDLE has the investigative resources and expertise to move quickly when it matters most.”

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E., said, “The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise place our customer’s privacy and security at the utmost importance. With that at our core focus, we are grateful for Attorney General Moody’s immediate response to stop this scam in its tracks and protect Floridians from these criminals attempting to manipulate customers and gain access to their sensitive information. FDOT proudly stands alongside the Attorney General’s office and our law enforcement partners as we continue to go to bat for the people of Florida.”

Below is an example of the unpaid toll scam text message:

While the authentic Sun Pass web address is SunPass.com, the smishing messages direct targets to fraudulent URLs set up to mimic the official sight. Attorney General Moody’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit recently shut down 10 of these fraudulent sites listed below:

  • sunpass-service.com
  • sunpass-help.com
  • sunpass-online.com
  • sunpass-florida.com
  • sunpass-toll.com
  • sunpass-tolls.com
  • sunpass-express.com
  • service-sunpass.com
  • tolls-sunpass.com
  • web-sunpass.com

Florida is particularly susceptible to this emerging threat as it is home to the most toll roads of any state in the nation—more than 700 miles. These roads are necessary to help the 22 million Florida residents and 130 million Florida visitors get to destinations safely and on time.

Attorney General Moody offers the following tips to Floridians to avoid toll smishing scams:

  • Avoid Clicking Links: Refrain from clicking on any links provided in unsolicited messages, especially those claiming to be from SunPass, E-ZPass or FDOT;
  • Verify the Source: Independently confirm the information by contacting FDOT or SunPass using contact information found on an official organization’s website;
  • Check Account Status: Regularly check an online toll account to add an extra layer of protection;
  • Protect Personal Information: Do not provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited messages, emails or phone calls; and
  • Register Phone Number with Do Not Call List: To help block robocalls and spam text messages, register phone numbers at DoNotCall.gov.

To report suspicious activity related to SunPass or E-ZPass, Floridians can file complaints at FDLE’s Report a Cybercrime webpage.

To view other Consumer Alerts, visit MyFloridaLegal.com/Consumer Alert.

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