This legislative session we dealt with big and pressing issues including Hurricane Irma and school safety.
The school safety legislation presented one of the most difficult votes I have had to make. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with students from Stoneman Douglas High School and get some feedback and input.
The safety bill that we passed was a good first step that reflects a balanced, bi-partisan effort. We allocated $400 million for school safety to harden schools, including money for more school resource officers and increased funding of community mental health. We still have more work to do.
We passed an $88.7 billion budget which increased funding for education and Medicaid and land conservation programs. We passed tax reductions to mitigate the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. The language from my bill to give a sales tax exemption for the purchase of emergency power generators (HB803) was rolled into a tax cut bill that gives nursing homes and assisted living facilities up to a $15,000 sales tax exemption on generator purchases to assist them to comply with new emergency power regulations. This tax cut package also benefited families and students, businesses, farmers, and military and service members who will receive a tax cut on certain purchases.
Palm Beach County is especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and we passed a bill implementing prescription limitations and increased funding for treatment.
With only 200 bills passed this session, I was delighted to be able to pass a bill that addressed tough penalties for the theft of farmers’ property.
We had many visitors again this year. Thanks to all of you who took the time to stop by and share your thoughts and concerns and for being engaged in the process of governing.
It has been a busy Spring and I wanted to share some of the accomplishments from the 2017 session.
I supported legislation that provides tax relief, legislation that enables innovation and legislation that supports education.
I passed HB 863 which enables teaching nursing homes to add hospice services for their residents without having to go through a CON process. Florida has two teaching nursing homes and one is in Palm Beach County at Morse Life.
HB 303 garnered bipartisan support to allow religious expression in schools. Bills like HB807and HB477 take aim at addressing local issues related to sober homes and narcotics.
I had the opportunity to address the Florida Farm Bureau from the Senate floor early in the session.
We had lots of visitors in Tallahassee and I appreciate all of you who took the time to visit. This was a fun day talking civics with members of the Shady Hills Elementary 4-H club.
I was so happy that my wife, Jeanie, could join me for opening day of session.
I also got to spend some time with members of the Florida National Guard. Appreciate the service of these talented and dedicated men and women.
Here at home, I have enjoyed spending time with our future leaders. Congratulations to Nathan Frank, a student at Seminole Ridge Community High School, who received the Legislative Excellence Award.
The support of my family is what enables me to spend time in Tallahassee and throughout the district working hard for constituents. We were able to spend Mother's Day together enjoying our beautiful Florida views.
I am really excited for the start of the legislative session. These past few months since being elected to the Florida House have been very busy with orientation, committee meetings, and meeting with constituents.
I have been working hard and look forward to representing you in Tallahassee.
The town of North Palm Beach held a beautiful Veteran's Day Memorial Ceremony. (November, 2016)
With Senator Marco Rubio on the Florida House floor. (November, 2016)
At the Royal Palm Rotary Club with Club President, Steve Logan. (December, 2016)
At Palm Beach Gardens Elementary School with Principal, Mrs. Marie Caracuzzo. (January, 2017)