Democrats lament ‘missed opportunities’ at conclusion of Legislative Session

by | Mar 8, 2024

At the closure of 2024’s Legislative Session, Democrat lawmakers are expressing discontent over unaddressed issues like Medicaid expansion and property insurance affordability, calling the 60-day period a “missed opportunity.”

In the dying breaths of a Legislative Session that saw passage of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo‘s ‘Live Healthy’ Act and an amended version of a Speaker of the House Paul Renner-backed social media restriction bill, Democrat lawmakers are expressing frustration at what they describe as missed opportunities.

House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell told a media scrum on Friday that 2024’s session offered renewed prospects to pass meaningful legislation given that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ thumb was not “on the scale” compared to the previous year’s session, where he was gearing up for a presidential run. The chance failed to be seized, she said, with the session concluding without the passage of what she referred to as necessary reforms.

“We had the opportunity and the space, and the bandwith to do something magnificent for the people of Florida, but we didn’t,” she said. “We could have expanded Medicaid. How do you have a Live Healthy Act but not do the one thing that would help nearly a million Floridians have healthcare? We could have focused on property insurance, Flrodia is in an affordability crisis. {This session} is ending with a whimper.”

Driskell went on to lambast a lack of progress on relieving the high cost of living imposed on Floridians, though lauded a bipartisan commitment to a bill relating to sickle cell disease treatment.

“It’s tough to find anything [during session] for Floridians in terms of relief,” she said. “There’s one bill that actually has a 1.75 percent discount for home insurance but it’s really just a pass-through tax break for the property insurance industry. So we continue to give the industry relief but not any real relief to Floridians. What might amount to less than a cable bill for homeowner is going tt be hundreds of millions of dollars for the industry.”

Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Lauren Book echoed Driskell’s reservations, adding that the Senate stood against ‘culture war’ bills that failed to clear the legislative process, including a confederate monument protections bill and prohibitions on the government display of pride flags.

“This session left much to be desired for Floridians who are facing daily, pressing problems like the skyrocketing cost of property insurance and rising costs of living,” she said. “With the Governor’s mostly absent voice, we saw the Senate stand strong against many of the culture war issues that have plagued our state and stripped Floridians of freedom in years past. I hope that strength continues.”

In the lower chamber, Rep. Angie Nixon also voiced concerns pertaining to the lack of movement on property insurance, issuing a statement declaring that lawmakers wasted an opportunity to provide assistance.

“Whether we’re talking about Florida’s youth, working families, or retirees, regardless of party affiliation, nearly everyone continues to struggle under Florida’s affordability crisis. We have skyrocketing property and auto insurance rates, along with the endless rise in housing and utility costs and Republican leaders have wasted this opportunity to provide real relief,” said Nixon. “Instead, we’ve seen too many attacks on the communities that struggle, not only with meeting their basic needs, but with feeling safe in their communities and hopeful about their futures.”

Not all Democrats shared this perspective, however. Senate Democratic Leader-Designate Sen. Jason Pizzo said in a statement that he felt optimistic as a result of multiple bipartisan causes and policies.

“I am leaving this session with a sense of optimism that I haven’t felt in a long time,” Pizzo said. “This Legislature has demonstrated that we can work across the aisle on reasonable and rational policy. When we are not bearing the burden of an executive agenda above our own, we see that cooler heads can prevail. We will continue to build relationships and consensus across the aisle, on policy that creates and keeps neighborhoods viable, safe and prosperous.”


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