Report card: Here are the Florida lawmakers who put ‘people first’

Report card: Here are the Florida lawmakers who put ‘people first’

Representative Anna V. Eskamani was one of five Florida Democrats to receive an A+ for their pro-people voting records. Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

By Giselle Balido

June 12, 2024

The grades are in! Meet the state lawmakers who fought for Floridians and those who caved in to special interests.

Five Democratic Florida legislators earned a “People’s Champion” Award from Progress Florida and Florida Watch for consistently voting to provide safe and affordable housing, expand access to quality and affordable health care options, create common-sense gun safety laws, and generate good paying jobs that help hardworking Floridians build financial security. 

Representatives LaVon Bracy Davis (Orlando), Anna V. Eskamani (Orlando), Ashley Viola Gantt (Miami), Angie Nixon (Jacksonville), and Susan L. Valdés (Tampa), all received an A+, the top grade awarded by the two public interest groups to state lawmakers who consistently voted to put people first across 30 key floor votes cast during this year’s legislative session.

“Floridians were looking for their elected officials to address the real issues impacting their lives, but their priorities went largely unaddressed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies in the legislature,” Florida Watch Executive Director Josh Weierbach said in a statement. “With the ‘People First’ report card, Floridians can now clearly see which lawmakers are truly fighting for our freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe.”

 

RELATED: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s plan to lower costs for Floridians

 

According to “People First”, some of the votes factored into lawmaker grades include, among others:

  • The Climate Crisis Denial bill (HB 1645/SB 1624) that makes climate a lesser priority in Florida and largely removes references to climate change from state statutes.
  • The Heat Protections for Workers Ban (HB 433/SB 1492) that prevents cities or counties from creating protections for workers who labor in the state’s often extreme and dangerous heat.
  • The Anti-Abortion Taxpayer Funded Propaganda (HB 415/SB 436) that requires the Florida Department of Health to create a website using a third-party vendor that features anti-abortion pregnancy centers.                 
  • The Predatory Consumer Loans legislation (HB 1347/SB 1436) that offers the strongest consumer protections in state history for the problem-plagued Property Assessed Clean Energy program that helps homeowners pay for energy efficiency projects like solar panels. It also provides a funding option for people who don’t qualify for or want a bank loan.
  • The Homelessness Criminalization (HB 1365/SB 1530) that prohibits counties and municipalities from authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping on public property, directly affecting homeless people.

From A to F

Florida House and Senate Members Earning an “A” on the “People First” Report Card include Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D-Gainesville), Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Hollywood), Rep. Kristen Aston Arrington (D-Kissimmee), Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), Rep. Jennifer “Rita” Harris (D-Orlando), and Rep. Tom Keen (D-Orlando). 

 

RELATED: Yes, the GOP-Controlled Florida Legislature Is Impacting Black and Latino Communities. Here’s How

 

These representatives veered sharply from state legislative leaders who pursued an agenda that favored wealthy corporate donors and did little to lower housing costs, expand health care access, and strengthen democracy.

Recipients of a failing grade, or F, include Sen. Brian Ávila (R- Hialeah Gardens), Rep. Fabian Basabe (R-North Bay Village), Sen. Alexis Calatayud (R- Miami), and Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa). 

An important tool

Progress Florida and Florida Watch unveiled their report card ahead of the November elections in order to give Floridians a tool that can help them stay informed about the actions of their elected leaders before deciding how to cast their ballot.

“Floridians can now clearly see which lawmakers are truly fighting for our freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe,” said Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo.

For the full list of legislators’ grades, please visit HERE

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

CATEGORIES: STATE LEGISLATURE
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