The 24-member Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation will be united in attempts for key reforms of education, property insurance and traffic issues predicted State Sen. Anitere Flores speaking at a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations meeting on Feb. 19.
Flores, who represents nearly one half million voters in District 38 and chairs the 2015 Miami-Dade delegation of six senators and 18 representatives presided during a mid-February meeting, preparing for the 60-day legislation session that opens Mar. 3 in Tallahassee.
“We met Feb. 18 for our pre-legislative session and, for the first time in my memory, substantially agreed on at least 13 different issues that will get unified support,” said Flores, hours after flying to Miami for the Kendall meeting.
“I have never felt more positive of what we can do,” declared the veteran politician and mother of two who has served eight years in the
Florida House before reelection in 2014 for a second Senate term.
Of the three areas singled out for change, education topped the list with Flores.
“It has become loud and clear that the testing programs in education need to be revised,” she said. “Accountability is necessary, but not at the expense of continual testing at federal, state and local levels. Fourth grade testing appears unnecessary. We are looking for a full review of testing requirements this year.”
She noted that North and Central Florida counties “are waking up” to the problems of high premium coverages largely felt in South Florida due to sinkhole and Gulf Coast hurricanes afflicting other state areas.
“Citizens Insurance is still a good program but it needs reasonable rates statewide, and those who opt out need to be protected from 10 to 30 percent rate hikes from private companies,” she added.
Both she and State Rep. Jeanette Nunez will again seek passage of a re-drafted House bill slated to add more direct representation of voters on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) board by reducing its membership from 13 to 9 and appointment of members with past private or public relationships to county transportation interests.
“It is time for a closer look at how our highways are being managed,” she added.
She later welcomed a proposal by RollBackTolls chair Carlos Garcia who wants Sunpass users to become aware of increased tolls on Miami-Dade expressway by having immediate access to billed charges on an iPhone or similar device.
“There are drivers out there who may be ringing up 10 or more dollars daily without realizing mounting costs,” he said, before Flores said the need to “update the system” might include that proposal. Other comments:
• Florida should use surplus revenues to increase aid for dependent children care and mental health facilities to support increased caseloads, an influx due in part to adding more caseworkers in 2014.
• Tax credits directed at attracting more motion picture business need to benefit smaller, independent producers rather than major studios.
• “It is frustrating to think that among some 2,000 bills entered every year, only 200 or so are actually passed — and many ‘good’ bills continue to fail,” she said at one point. “Sometimes, it’s better that we do nothing than pass bad legislation.”