Florida Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) today released the following statement highlighting several wins Senate Republicans delivered to Floridians during the 2022 Legislative Session. The Senate has completed work on policy bills and will return to vote on the 2022-23 General Appropriations Act, as well as bills associated with the balanced budget on Monday, March 14, following the constitutionally required cooling off period.
“The Senate Republican Caucus has spent the last 60 days working to ensure Florida remains a beacon of freedom, and a launch pad for economic success for hardworking Floridians and their families. Under the leadership of Senate President Wilton Simpson, Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel and Rules Chair Kathleen Passidomo, and our entire caucus of Republican Senators, we made good on our promise to address the issues that matter most to Floridians.”
Improving Services and Protections for Florida’s Children, both Born and Unborn
“Our Senate GOP Caucus was proud to stand for life this session. This session we passed a comprehensive pro-life measure increasing protections for unborn children, while enhancing support and resources for mothers. Thanks to tremendous scientific advancements in the decades since Roe v. Wade, we know so much more now than we did then about how a baby develops in a mother’s womb. Prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks safeguards the lives of innocent children with beating hearts, and I am proud that our state continues to protect the sanctity of life, and support the safety and wellbeing of mothers.
“We also understand that being pro-life is about more than opposing abortion. Ensuring children have every opportunity to succeed begins with loving, permanent homes. Building on reforms to Florida’s Child Welfare System passed last year, our caucus led the charge to increase benefits for foster families and family members who step up to take on the responsibility of raising children who can no longer live with their parents.”
Safeguarding Parental and Individual Rights
“Following up on the pro-family Parent’s Bill of Rights and the pro-freedom Keep Florida Free agenda passed last year, Senate Republicans continue to stand with Florida’s parents and their fundamental right to make decisions about their children’s upbringing, from health care decisions like vaccines and masking, to determining their child’s educational environment and experience. Children belong to families not the state, and parents have a right to decide how and when to have important discussions with their children. For this reason, we passed a common-sense measure to make sure our children have an age-appropriate curriculum.
“We also believe that our children should be learning about important historical facts and movements, not divided by educators with a political agenda that blames young children for horrible historic events they had nothing to do with. Likewise, required workplace training should include elements that focus on respect and celebrate diversity and inclusion. Employees should not be subjected to required training that tears down and divides people based on race. To reinforce these principles, we passed meaningful legislation to protect individual freedoms and prevent discrimination in schools and the workplace, while supporting factual educational instruction and materials for students.”
Key Investments in Florida’s Environment and Affordable Housing
“Our caucus continues to prioritize protecting and restoring our state’s world-renowned natural resources. We dedicate $885 million to Everglades restoration, safeguard state taxpayer funds dedicated to clean water resources, and maintain the steady stream of funding established last year for wastewater, mitigating sea level rise and affordable housing.
“We have a long history of strongly supporting affordable housing, and this session was no different. We directed record-level funding of nearly $363 million in our budget to affordable housing programs, up from the $209 million in funding last year. We also dedicated funding for down payment and closing cost assistance to our hometown heroes, and authorized a constitutional amendment to increase homestead exemptions for those who protect and serve our state and nation, law enforcement, and teachers, which will appear on the November General Election ballot.”
Protecting Florida Businesses
“Senate Republicans understand that Florida businesses – not the government – create the jobs that support our thriving communities, and their investments in our state deserve a level of protection from governmental overreach. Through the Local Business Protection Act, we addressed the challenges many businesses face when local governments enact harmful ordinances, while respecting the important role of local governments. Additionally, we increased penalties for organized retail theft to send a clear message that these brazen crimes that target hardworking Floridians and destroy businesses and property will not be tolerated.”
Enforcing Immigration Laws
“While the federal government may believe that taxpayers should accept and fund illegal immigration, protecting the safety and hard-earned money of our residents remains a top priority for Florida Republicans. Our caucus took action to prohibit government entities from participating in the Biden Administration’s scheme to move illegal immigrants around the country.”
Bolstering Election Integrity
“Florida leads the nation in election integrity because we have taken a proactive approach to addressing and anticipating any election issues. To ensure Florida remains a national model for free and fair elections, we established a clear framework to investigate elections violations, improved voter roll maintenance, continued our commitment to securing vote-by-mail ballots, and increased and expanded penalties for those who illegally interfere in our elections.”
Investing in Florida’s Future and Providing Tax Relief for Florida Families
“Unlike other states, Florida remained free and open for business in the wake of the pandemic, and it shows. Our 2022-2023 balanced budget makes historic investments in education, our environment and public safety, including an historic increase in per-student funding and increased pay for corrections, probation, and juvenile detention officers. President Simpson worked to ensure the public servants who spend each day educating, protecting and caring for our communities earn at least $15 per hour. We also provided every state employee a 5.38 percent raise to help relieve the financial burden of the extraordinary inflation brought on by the federal government’s irresponsible policies.
“Thanks to Chair Stargel’s responsible, balanced approach to funding critical needs while preparing for any future challenges that may come our way, we set aside historic state reserves while also cutting taxes. In total, we set aside 8.9 billion in state reserves, plus a $1 billion state inflation fund, and provided $658 million in broad-based tax relief to Florida families. Several tax holidays and long-term sales tax relief will help Floridians save money when stocking up on school supplies, hurricane supplies, diapers, children’s books, purchasing gas and more.
“These accomplishments not only reflect the steadfast efforts of Senate Republicans to support the needs of our constituents, but they will benefit our state for generations to come. I am grateful for the teamwork among my Senate colleagues, the House of Representatives and Governor Ron DeSantis in our fight to continue protecting freedoms and liberties here in Florida. The Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to serving freedom-loving Floridians as we continue to invest in a more prosperous future.”