As the 2019 legislative session concluded today, Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried highlighted some key legislative priorities that successfully passed the Florida House and Senate, and thanked lawmakers for approving these initiatives.
“When running for this office, I promised to fight for historic changes in our Department and for Floridians. Today, at the end of my first legislative session as Commissioner of Agriculture, I’m proud to say that we’ve achieved several of those milestones, and I’m thankful for the state lawmakers who supported these efforts,” said Commissioner Fried. “From significant investments in concealed weapons licensing to protect Floridians, to a groundbreaking state hemp program with billions in economic potential, these legislative priorities help fulfill the promises I’ve made to keep Florida growing. I look forward to working with Governor DeSantis to see these common-sense initiatives signed into law.”
Commissioner Fried’s key priorities included:
Improved Concealed Weapons License Processing: Commissioner Fried secured 25 new full-time positions in the Division of Licensing to improve concealed weapons license accuracy and timeliness, and to address the prior administration’s deficiencies in that program.
Established State Hemp Program: SB 1020 provides Commissioner Fried the authority to establish a state hemp program in the Department of Agriculture, overseeing the state’s forthcoming multi-billion dollar industry in industrial hemp, a crop with more than 25,000 uses.
Enhanced Fresh From Florida Funding: Commissioner Fried secured $6.3 million for Fresh From Florida, the state’s agricultural marketing program; Fresh From Florida has an extraordinary return on investment, with $125 million in annual economic impact for Florida growers.
Secured Florida Forest Service & Firefighting Funding: Commissioner Fried secured $19.5 million to fund Florida Forest Service operations, including nearly $6.6 million to replace aging equipment in preparation for a wildfire threat ten times greater than normal due to 72 million tons of fallen timber from Hurricane Michael.
Reauthorizing Department-Supported Organizations: HB 1121 reauthorizes numerous important programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, the Florida Beef Council, the Florida Forestry Arson Alert program, the Florida Agricultural Museum, and Living Healthy in Florida, a nonprofit promoting nutrition and wellness.
Ensuring Access to Smokable Medical Marijuana Without THC Cap: Commissioner Fried strongly supported SB 182, providing access to smokable medical marijuana for Florida’s suffering patients in need, and strongly opposed HB 7117’s unnecessary cap on THC levels in medical marijuana.
Providing Cancer Treatment Coverage for Florida’s Firefighters: Commissioner Fried was fully supportive of SB 426, which recognizes cancer as an occupational hazard related to firefighting and includes cancer coverage for firefighters upon diagnosis.
While Commissioner Fried and her team worked tirelessly to help advance these priorities through the legislative process, she also voiced numerous concerns about unnecessary legislation from the 2019 session.
“It’s unfortunate that lawmakers also chose to pass legislation that doesn’t serve the interests of Floridians and our communities,” said Commissioner Fried. “They’ve introduced weapons into our children’s classrooms. They’ve subverted voters’ will by erecting barriers to voting for ex-felons and to amending our Constitution. They’ve sowed fear in immigrant communities and caused economic harm with so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ legislation addressing a non-issue. Bills like these don’t create jobs, they don’t make people safer, and they don’t keep Florida growing – we can, and must, expect better.”