The 2020 Women United State Summit and Florida United Ways Capitol Days two-day event on November 12 & 13 was a huge success! Our record attendance of 70+ participants represented 17 local United Ways and 41 counties in Florida! It was engaging, relevant and inspiring for those who were able to attend. We were able to spend a day networking with other Women United groups and hearing what they are doing in the community. We had a surprise visit from Senator Stargill to share how she had become involved in politics and the challenges she faced as being a female in the political arena.
Day 2 was filled with tours of the capital, meetings with our representatives, an Special group meetings. We had the opportunity to visit with Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Brett Hage, and they both took an interest in our issues of early childhood education, affordable housing, assistance with tax preparation for lower income individuals, assistance for veterans, and health care. We also visited with an aide to Senator Kelli Stargel. It was informative trip that each year I learn a little more about the political arena and how we can have a voice.
It was interesting to hear their lobbyists from RSA Consulting discuss their observations on the upcoming session. Legislators have met several weeks in committees in advance of the session, however many committee meetings had been canceled and not many bills have been filed. Some of their key observations and predictions are as follows:
1) The leaders of both chambers have the power to set the agenda. If a leader doesn't prioritize a bill it's not likely to see the light of day. Over 3,000 bills were filed in 2019, but only 197 were passed.
2) The trend to merge individual bills into "train" bills is likely to continue even though this forces legislators to vote on things they don't support in order to get other key pieces of the train bill passed.
3) The need for additional revenue is likely to prompt some type of expansion of gambling through an agreement with the Seminole tribe.
4) There may be movement in the areas of criminal justice reform.