Florida Daily Herald: Florida’s Home Minority Chief Prepared For The Problem

Florida Dems will struggle for reasonably priced well being care, reasonably priced housing and decrease property insurance coverage charges, says state Rep. Fentrice Driskell.

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-FL) speaks at a mayoral panel on the Equal Rights Modification on the Centre Membership of Tampa.

On the heels of successful re-election, Florida Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Democrat who represents District 67 within the Tampa Bay space, additionally will function the primary Black lady chief of the Florida Home Democratic Caucus. She is going to serve on this place by means of 2026.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be the primary Black lady to steer the Florida Home Democratic Caucus…I do know on whose shoulders I stand. Senator Arthenia Joyner was the primary Black lady Democratic chief within the Florida Senate.

She has been a mentor to me and helped me put together for this,” Driskell stated throughout a current interview with the Florida Courier.

She was first elected to the Florida Home in 2018 in District 63, unseating Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison with greater than 53 % of the vote. Her new District 67 represents the world of Tampa close to the College of South Florida and parts of northern Hillsborough County.

The Tampa lawyer grew up in Lakeland and attended Harvard College, the place she grew to become the primary Black lady president of pupil authorities. She went on to earn her legislation diploma from Georgetown College.

She’s additionally a member of the Tampa Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., initiated on Oct. 4, 2020.

As a state consultant, Driskell sponsored a police reform invoice that elevated accountability for legislation enforcement and a invoice that created a job drive to deal with the difficulty of deserted African American cemeteries throughout Florida. Each payments handed unanimously in the course of the 2021 legislative session.

She was lately featured in a “60 Minutes Extra time’’ interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley to debate her Home invoice 1215 that may have created an Workplace of Historic Cemeteries within the Florida Division of State. The workplace would have devoted state assets to help in discovering historic cemeteries and assist navigate conditions the place the cemeteries found have been on non-public property, Driskell defined in the course of the CBS interview.

The invoice handed within the Home committees and died within the Senate in the course of the 2022 legislative session. Driskell instructed Pelley she plans to deliver the invoice again throughout a special legislative session. 

A extra vocal stance on points

Driskell takes on the function of chief of the Florida Home Democratic Caucus throughout a time when the occasion is within the tremendous minority within the Florida legislature. Republicans management greater than two thirds of the Home seats.

“It’s unlucky as a result of it now signifies that if Republicans wish to shut off debate on a subject, they might do it. Any vote that sometimes would require two thirds in favor of that vote, they now have greater than two thirds of the Home, so that they, subsequently, don’t want Democrats on these votes,” Driskell defined.

Driskell stated this interprets to Florida Democrats not having the votes to dam laws that may additional prohibit abortion entry. She expects Florida Republicans to suggest laws that may additional ban abortions after six to 12 weeks. At present, abortions are banned in Florida after 15 weeks except a lady’s life is in peril and there’s no exception for rape, or incest.

“We don’t have the votes to cease an abortion ban at 12 or six weeks. So, it’s going to be as much as the Republicans to actually hearken to the folks and never give in to their extra extremist nature and to train some self-control after they strategy the opportunity of passing these bans,” Driskell stated.

To fight the shortage of votes, Driskell stated occasion members will grow to be extra vocal this legislative session to make sure the general public is knowledgeable. She served on a panel for Reproductive Freedom on the White Home on Dec. 7.

“We simply don’t have the votes to cease it, however we will actually use our platform and the bully pulpit to attempt to get the folks concerned to ensure their voices are heard and generally that may have an effect on the legislative course of,” Driskell stated.

In search of areas of alignment

Florida Democrats will focus this legislative session on preventing for entry  to high quality, reasonably priced well being care, reasonably priced housing and reducing insurance coverage property charges, Driskell instructed the Florida Courier.

“Florida Democrats consider that each Floridian deserves the liberty to be wholesome, affluent and secure,” Driskell stated.

The Democratic occasion will search for areas of alignment with the Republican occasion the place they will affect the insurance policies and laws being drafted.

“Over the last time period, Democrats and Republicans have been in a position to work collectively to increase Medicaid advantages to moms submit beginning for a full yr whereas beforehand it had been lower than a yr…In order that was an enormous victory,” Driskell shared. “I feel there are oftentimes extra areas of frequent floor than folks would suppose.”

Driskell expects one space of alignment to be enhancements to the state’s infrastructure because it pertains to site visitors congestion and defending clear water sources. She’s involved although that Republicans will push extra laws to cater to its far proper and assist Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda with none pushback with a view to improve his notoriety nationwide.

“I’m involved that the Republicans serving within the legislature this time period are going to offer into the extra of the extremist and radical components of their occasion as a result of the governor is extensively anticipated to run for president,” Driskell stated, stating DeSantis’ want to run for president is the worst stored secret in Tallahassee. She believes it’s “100% possible” he’ll run for president.

Then-Florida Home Speaker Jose Oliva (R-Miami Lakes) speaks with Rep Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) about well being care on the Home flooring in 2019.

State in ‘midst of an affordability disaster’

Driskell calls it a distraction from “the actual enterprise that must be achieved” in Florida.

“Florida is within the midst of an affordability disaster. In so many locations, folks can’t afford hire. There was a time throughout this previous time period the place I used to be getting so many calls about folks involved about evictions. Inflation has been arduous on all of us,’’ she associated.

“I’m grateful to the Biden administration for what they’ve been doing to attempt to deliver that down, however the state of Florida actually hasn’t been doing its half.

She continued, “Property insurance coverage charges are uncontrolled. Within the midst of all these challenges, you may have a legislature targeted on punishing Disney as a result of the corporate didn’t agree with a chunk of laws that the governor obtained handed. It’s infantile and it appears like a shell sport the place they’re enjoying with folks’s lives and not likely involved with assembly the wants of on a regular basis Floridians.’’

Throughout the particular legislative session Dec. 12-16, Driskell stated her occasion will push for laws that gives quick reduction by way of bringing down property insurance coverage charges.

In a joint proclamation launched Dec.6, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Florida Home Speaker Paul Renner stated the legislative session would convene to contemplate laws that may overhaul the property insurance coverage trade, together with “scale back the price of laws concerning property insurance coverage claims, enhance claims dealing with practices, and improve over-sight of property insurance coverage market members.”

Whereas the Democrats could also be out-numbered in Tallahassee now, Driskell doesn’t consider this downturn for the occasion will final ceaselessly. She predicts the occasion will truthful higher and win extra seats in 2024 resulting from it being a presiden-tial election yr. 

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