Three Petitions To Sign!
We are entering our second to last week of Legislative Session. Subcommittees have stopped meeting, and legislators are spending their time either in final bill committees or on the floors of both chambers.
The following bad bills are being heard this next week on the House floor and we are asking you to contact your individual State House Representatives before Tuesday, April 25th to VOTE NO. All of these bills still must still be heard in the Senate before passage into law, so there is still time to stop them with enough dissent:
- HB 1191 Use of Phosphogypsum — Would allow the use of a radioactive byproduct of phosphate mining (phosphogypsum) in roadbeds. Its use is currently prohibited across the country. It’s a main component of mountain-like gypsum stacks that dot phosphate mining areas in Polk, Hardee, Manatee and Hillsborough counties. The EPA has prohibited its use in road construction for quite a long time due to the risks of radon exposure and leachate into ground water and significant environmental and health concerns posed by this product.
- HB 1403 Protections of Medical Conscience – Basically it is a license to discriminate in health care; health care providers and healthcare payers would have the right to opt out of participation in or payment for certain healthcare services on the basis of conscience-based objections. This is a terrible bill that destroys the trusted bond between physician and patient, and only adds confusion and delays to needed healthcare.
- HB 1417 Residential Tenancies — A needless state preemption bill that further erodes home rule by forbidding local communities in Florida from regulating any part of “the landlord-tenant relationship” — from setting caps on application fees and security deposits to enacting protections against discrimination, unsafe living conditions, and unfair evictions.
- HB 1281 Preemption Over Utility Service Restrictions – Another needless state preemption bill that erodes home rule by preventing local governments from enacting or enforcing a resolution, ordinance, rule, code, or policy that restricts/prohibits use of natural gas, propane, and related appliances.
Please contact your individual State Representatives before Tuesday and tell them to VOTE NO on the above bills.
ACTION ALERT #2
You have one last chance to voice your opposition to your own State Representative about the union-busting bill — HB 1445 / SB 256 Employee Organizations Representing Public Employees. It will be heard on the House floor next Tuesday; if passed, it will be ready to go to the Governor for his signature into law.
This bill is an attempt to lower public union membership below 60%, which would then result in union decertification and loss of bargaining power for those hard-working union members who are primarily women, people of color, and have low-income jobs. The large teachers’ union will be affected, but jobs like bus drivers, garbage collectors, 911 operators, cafeteria workers, and librarians will also lose their ability to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. Hundreds of thousands of public union jobs will be affected. But with full bigotry on display, this Republican-sponsored bill excludes the white male-dominated public unions for law enforcement, correctional officers, probation officers, and firefighters. They don’t even try to hide it anymore.
American workers deserve the respect that comes with being paid fair wages for hard work and a dignified retirement. Unions have been an instrumental part of achieving those goals. Unfortunately, this bill only seeks to divide us instead of helping regular working folks get ahead.
Please contact your individual State Representatives before Tuesday and tell them to VOTE NO on this anti-worker bill.
ACTION ALERT #3
It has been brought to our attention that a bipartisan-sponsored bill — HB 1355 Interests of Foreign Countries — has been promoted as a bill that protects national security, but we are learning that it will also have a huge discriminatory impact on immigrants moving here from China, if it is not amended.
Under the goal of protecting national security, the bill generally restricts the role certain “foreign countries of concern” may take with respect to land ownership in the state:
- Foreign countries of concern in this bill include: the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro and the Syrian Arab Republic.
- The bill restricts a governmental entity’s ability to contract with foreign countries of concern and further prohibits foreign countries of concern from purchasing or otherwise acquiring real property in the state.
- The bill places specific limitations on the type and location of real property that may be owned or acquired by a foreign country of concern, including agriculture property and property within 20 miles of a military installation or other critical infrastructure facility.
- The bill also amends the Florida Electronic Health Records Act and Florida Health Care Licensing Procedures Act to require that any offsite storage of medical information and patient records be physically maintained at a location within the United States, a territory of the United States, or Canada.
HOWEVER, further down in the bill’s Section 7, there is inflammatory language that specifically targets the prohibition of property purchase by “any person who is domiciled in the People’s Republic of China and who is not a citizen of the United States.” This language takes away property purchase rights after July 1, 2023 of any Floridian who was born in the People’s Republic of China and has a “Green Card” (i.e., lives here but is not yet a lawful permanent resident). Furthermore, the bill requires current property owners before July 1, 2023 who fit this description to register with the Department of Economic Opportunity by Jan. 1, 2024 or suffer severe civil penalties. According to Xuan Jiang in a guest commentary yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel, this language would affect “many of the 53,000 Chinese Floridians or 1.2% of all the Floridian immigrants”, and would have “a far-reaching negative impact on the state as a community.” Indeed, as she points out, this bill is similar to the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882 that barred Chinese immigrants from entering and enjoying civil rights in the United States.
When will we stop repeating terrible mistakes of the past? When will we prevent the power-hungry Governor from destroying people’s lives in his quest for the Presidency? This bill has passed the Senate and all House committees. We have one chance left to contact each of our own State Representatives and ask them to amend Section 7 of this bill in order to remove the discriminatory language against individual Chinese immigrants or VOTE NO when this bill comes before them on the floor of the House.
DO NOT GIVE YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES A PASS! Let them know you are watching and hold them accountable for their continued efforts to limit freedoms in Florida. And please thank those Representatives who are standing up for Democracy.
Florida State Legislators Representing Hillsborough County