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‘People First’: Progress Florida lauds left-leaning legislators

Republicans have lauded the 2019 Legislative Session as being consequential for conservative interests, but those on the left are also celebrating those who fought the good fight.

To that end, left-leaning Progress Florida unveiled its 2019 “People First” Report Card, based on key votes cast by legislators in the House or Senate.

Grading was based on 21 votes in the House and 17 in the Senate, and lawmakers who got As or Bs vote to put “people first.”

“Florida politicians like to talk a good game when it comes to supporting Florida families, but this score card shows which ones are actually walking the walk with their votes,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida.

“Now more than ever,” Ferrulo added, “it’s important Floridians know which lawmakers are doing right by everyday Floridians, and which ones are really in the hip pocket of corporate lobbyists or ideological extremists.”

Thirteen Democrats, twelve of them members of the House, got perfect scores.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami was joined by state Reps. Kamia Brown, John Cortes, Bobby DuBose, Anna Eskamani, Joy Goff-Marcil, Michael Gottlieb, Evan Jenne, Dotie Joseph, Amy Mercado, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Geraldine Thompson, and Clovis Watson.

Thirteen members qualified in 2019, a sharp increase from the previous Legislative Session.

“It’s great to see so many more legislators putting people first where it counts, with their votes,” Ferrulo said. “These 13 lawmakers unequivocally stood up for Florida families despite pressure from very powerful special interests.”

Other legislators, again all Democrats, scored As.

The Senators who got A grades: Lori Berman, Oscar Braynon II, Janet Cruz, Gary Farmer, Jason Pizzo, Kevin J. Rader, Linda Stewart, and Victor M. Torres, Jr.

The state Representatives in that category: Margaret Good, Michael Grieco, Ramon Alexander, Loranne Ausley, Joseph Casello, Tracie Davis, Ben Diamond, Fentrice Driskell, Joseph Geller, Dianne Hart, Adam Hattersley, Delores Hogan Johnson, Cindy Polo, Sharon Pritchett, Richard Stark, Barbara Watson, Jennifer Webb, and Patricia Williams.

Progress Florida looked at performance on a number of bills, including some of the most high-profile legislation of the Session.

HB 5, which imposes new burdens on petition collectors pushing Constitutional amendments, was one; Progress Florida described that as an “anti-voter initiative bill.”

HB 527/SB 168, the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” that formally bans sanctuary jurisdictions and requires local cooperation with federal immigration authorities, was another.

SB 7068, a controversial measure routing three toll roads and described as the “Billionaire Boulevard boondoggle,” was still another.

Also factoring in: votes on charter school expansion, criminal justice reform, abortion rights and access, access to sanitary items for female inmates, and legalizing smokable cannabis for medical patients.

While some of those bills were good for the group’s interests, the balance of the Session reminds Progress Florida that they have work to do.

“The 2019 legislature will be remembered for indefensible attacks on voting rights, civil rights, our environment, and public schools,” Ferrulo said. “Once again, special interests ruled the day, while legislative leadership rammed through regressive policies that will harm our state for years to come.”

While Democrats would be expected to do better on this list than Republicans, some interesting anomalies presented themselves.

The lowest-scoring Democrat, Jacksonville’s Rep. Kim Daniels, received 52 points. This was only five points above her (relatively speaking) moderate Senate Republican neighbor, Aaron Bean, who got 47, along with fellow North Florida Republican George Gainer.

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