Dear Broward County Residents,
I am honored to serve as your County Commissioner representing our coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale and all of the amazing cities, towns and villages in between.
Here are some recent highlights from around Broward County:
Statement Regarding the Recent Tragic Events in Parkland:
On February 14th, our community was faced with an unthinkable act that devastated our entire nation. My heart goes out to the families of the victims, the students and teachers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as the entire Parkland community. Broward County has provided a Resource Page with helpful information for those in need.
As a Broward County Commissioner and product of our public schools myself, I am deeply troubled by the latest news of critical breakdowns in the public safety process at one of our Broward County Schools. These children should have been protected. Their parents should never have to worry about their safety. On February 27th, I joined my County Commission in calling for an outside investigation of the entire public safety process that secures all of our Broward County Schools.
We Must Have the Best Policies and People in Place to Keep Our Children Safe. Anything Less is Completely Unacceptable.
Change Came Quick in Tallahassee
In the days following the tragic shooting, the Florida Legislature debated many proposed changes to state laws for school safety, mental health and the purchase of firearms. Many of the members in both houses of government had significant things to add to the discussion and the resulting law was Senate Bill 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The Florida House voted 67 to 50 in favor of the Senate Bill and the Florida Senate voted 20 to 18 in favor of their bill. Almost immediately, on Friday, March 9, 2018, SB7026 was signed by Governor Rick Scott. I am very supportive of this law because it supports common sense safety measures for our community.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (SB7026)
SB 7026 makes significant changes in several different areas regarding school safety and other measures. In the area of mental health, the bill makes significant changes to keep firearms out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness. In addition, the bill provides new provisions to ensure full and complete background checks when a firearm is purchased. The bill also raises the purchasing age of a firearm from 18 to 21 at the request of families of the victims, and prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, sold, or keeping for sale, offering for sale, possessing, or giving away within the state.
In the area of school safety, the bill addresses several provisions including; establishing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents and developing recommendations for system improvements; permitting a sheriff to establish a voluntary school marshal program; requiring each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility; creating the mental health assistance allocation to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care, among other things.
Additionally, the bill also prohibits a person from making, posting, or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. It requires the Department of Children and Families to contract for community action treatment teams for providers of behavioral health and support services; and requires Florida Department of Law Enforcement to procure a mobile app that would allow students and the community to relay information anonymously concerning unsafe, dangerous threats. In order to implement these and several other provisions, $400 million dollars has been appropriated within this School Safety Bill.
For more detailed information please visit FLgov.com.
Fort Lauderdale International Airport Update
On December 12, 2017, the Board directed the Broward County Aviation Department (BCAD) to devise a plan of action for a comprehensive emergency response training program for all employees at Broward County's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). BCAD staff determined that the best method for the training is a computer-based learning module to be offered to the nearly 15,000 employees comprising the FLL airport community. Most recently, the Board of County Commissioners approved an interactive learning system that will provide a “standardized” training platform for all employees working at FLL. The content will address a variety of topics from emergency response to customer service, but also speaks to the recommendations identified in the FLL Active Shooter Incident and Post Event Response, January 6, 2017 After Action Report (AAR). The proposed content outline for the program includes critical sections like Airport Familiarization/Orientation, Active Threat- Asses, Run Hide, Fight, First Responder Actions, Basic First Aid, and others. Most importantly, the interactive learning system will be specifically tailored for FLL and provide a uniformed baseline for all FLL employees. The program will launch August 1st, 2018 and it is expected that all employees at FLL must have taken/successfully passed the training program by December 31, 2018.
In other airport related news, the baggage claim portion of FLL’s Terminal 4 Federal Inspection Services Facility expansion opened on February 26th. The opening includes new baggage claim devices that are approximately double the size of the previous equipment. These units will significantly increase capacity and address the demand for streamlined processing, especially during peak periods. Airlines now have four lines rather than two to introduce passenger luggage. These improvements will serve to enhance the passenger experience by speeding up airline delivery of bags and providing additional space for passengers claiming their bags.
Additionally, FLL’s new cloud-inspired “cloudscape,” a public art project commissioned by Broward’s Cultural Division, made headlines in Architect’s Newspaper, a publication catering to architects, designers, engineers, developers, contractors and other businesses interested in urban built environments. This fun and creative play space imitates the type of scenic landscape children can see from the window of an airplane cabin. It is located in Terminal 1, Concourse A, post-security.
For more information on all the exciting things happening at Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport, please visit FLL.net.
New Animal Care Director
The Environmental Protection and Growth Management Division recently announced the appointment of Lauralei Combs as its new Director of Animal Care and Adoption. Ms. Combs was part of the senior leadership team in the Volunteer Programs department for the Austin Animal Center, which is the largest no kill municipal facility in the country. The facility shelters more than 18,000 animal each year and reports a 96 percent live release rate, one of the highest in the nation.
Ms. Combs past accomplishments, proven leadership and advocacy will be instrumental in developing lifesaving programs for pets. As a proud dog owner and strong supporter of making Broward County a no-kill community, I sponsored the “No Kill County” resolution in 2012 and it was unanimously supported by the Board. I am tremendously excited to continue this journey to become a successful no-kill community.
If you have a pet related question or want more information about Broward County’s Animal Care and Adoption Division, please visit Broward.org/Animal.
Flag Disposal Program
As you may remember, last year, I championed the Flag Disposal Program in Broward County. Through a partnership between the National Association of Counties and the National Flag Foundation, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners placed flag retirement boxes in several facilities in the County. Residents can dispose of old, tattered and torn flags at Broward County Government Center locations and various other locations in the County. I am happy to announce that hundreds of retired American flags have been collected and are being disposed of properly by the Boy Scouts of America, Broward County Chapters. It is my commitment to continue to provide this service in Broward County, while promoting the importance of proper flag etiquette and the proper way to dispose of an American Flag.
For more information, please visit Flag Disposal Program.
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As always, it is my honor and privilege to serve you.