Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Legislative Town Hall Featuring Representative Smith and Representative Mercado

I went to Acacia Banquet Hall (1865 Econlockhatchee Trail Orlando, FL 32817) to learn what I could about the 2018 Legislative Session. I had seen the invitation from Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith  Representative Amy Mercado for a Legislative Town Hall. They provided an update on priorities, issues impacting our community and they took questions directly from constituents. Special guest Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Weekly will be moderating this important event. Montivette has since moved on to become a court reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.

Carlos Guillermo Smith is a community activist, lobbyist, and politician from Orlando, Florida. He is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives . Upon his election in 2016, Smith became the first openly gay Latino to serve in the Florida Legislature. I was very pleased to see he recently got married.

The Florida Legislature meets in session every year for sixty consecutive days. Legislative proposals may be in the form of bills, resolutions, concurrent resolutions, joint resolutions, or memorials. A bill is a proposed law, and it may be either a general bill or a local bill.   A general bill would have a general impact within the state; a local bill would affect only a particular county, city, or town named in the bill. A majority vote is required to pass a bill, unless otherwise provided in the Constitution. The Florida Legislature is largely Republican so proposals for progressive democratic bills have an uphill battle.

The bill, cited as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, sought on its surface, to comprehensively address the crisis of gun violence, particularly gun violence on school campuses. Components of the bill included, among others, provisions to enhance school safety policies, procedures, and personnel on the state and local level, to improve and expand mental health services, and to revise laws and empower law enforcement and the courts to limit access to firearms by young adults or by individuals exhibiting a risk of harming themselves or others. The bill also created and or revised operating and  capital funding policies and provides appropriations to implement the provisions of the bill.

Endangers positive school climates by: 
Allowing school employees, including some teachers, to carry guns; 
Requiring the placement of armed personnel in every school; 
Requiring educators to “consult with” law enforcement whenever a student commits more than one misdemeanor or “exhibits a pattern of behavior . . . that would pose a threat to school safety;” Creating an anonymous reporting mechanism without proper due process protections.

The one take away for me was that the Florida Legislature feels bad that students were killed in Parkland, and therefor it is important to get guns in the hands of volunteer school employees and or teachers. It would seem $400,000,000 was appropriated to get more guns into more hands. Carlos voted against this bill which fights gun violence by providing more guns on school campuses. The bill was approved by the governor on March 9, 2018. Welcome to the Gunshine State.

Newsweek reported that "More children have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook than U.S. soldiers in combat Since 9/11."

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