What an amazing few months!
I am so proud to have been elected Commissioner of District 1,
spanning all or portions of Davie, Lauderhill, Plantation,
Sunrise, Tamarac and Weston. Some of you may know me from
my time serving in the Florida Legislature, but for those of you
who are new to District 1, welcome! This newsletter will provide
information about community events and meetings, as well as
information about local ordinances that I have introduced or
issues I am working on at the county.
Broward Passes Immigration Ban Resolution
On February 7th, I introduced a Resolution to the Board of County Commissioners that
declared Broward County “an inclusive and welcoming county for all of its residents
and visitors irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.” The Resolution
recognizes that America has a proud legacy of providing refuge to those who seek
freedom, opportunity, and democracy. Immigrants are the foundation of this country
and have made significant contributions to the economic and social fabric of our nation.
As someone who has had the honor of serving on the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum Council, as an appointee of President Clinton, I am particularly sensitive to the
moral imperative of welcoming immigrants and refugees to our country. I believe we
embrace the best values of America here in Broward. But, I also believe we must speak
up and make our voices heard when those basic American values are being challenged.
I am so happy that my colleagues agreed and passed the Resolution!
Rally to Protect the Affordable Care Act
Recently, I participated in the Rally to Protect the
Affordable Care Act
with Congressman Alcee Hastings, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
Ted Deutch at the Sunrise Civic Center Amphitheater. This rally was one of many displays of solidarity across the country in support of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Broward County residents have been especially fortunate in their ability to have access to the ACA.
Data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that the
uninsured rate in Florida has fallen by 38 percent since the ACA was enacted in 2010, translating into 1,597,000 Floridians gaining coverage. And, in addition to residents who would
otherwise be uninsured, millions more Floridians with employer, Medicaid, individual
market, or Medicare coverage have also benefited from new protections as a result of the law. So, Florida has seen a tremendous amount of success in getting health insurance for people who previously could not do so.
Before the law went into effect, an estimated 392,000 people in Broward County were
uninsured or underinsured. By January 2015, two zip codes in Broward County in fact had two of the highest enrollment rates in the country, including in our very own communities of Lauderhill, Sunrise, Plantation, and Lauderdale Lakes. South Florida is also home to one of the largest LGBT communities in the nation. The ACA protects LGBT patients from
discriminatory practices based on their health status, such as being HIV positive. The ACA has also been extremely beneficial for women, who have been able to obtain access to
free “well-woman” exams and many no longer have to fear being denied by insurance
companies for having a pre-existing condition. With continued rising costs of living, affordable healthcare has been, and will continue to be, literally lifesaving for millions of Americans.
What I’m Working On
Safe Sleep for Children.
I recently asked the County Attorney to draft a
proposed ordinance that would require all licensed child care facilities and family child care homes to implement a
safe sleep policy in accordance with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatricians. Approximately 3,500
infants die annually in the United States from sleep-related deaths, and a significant number of these tragedies comes from
inappropriate sleeping environments. As part of the implementation of the safe sleep policy, there will be required trainings for
childcare providers as well as the wide dissemination of the safe sleep policy recommendations to residents throughout Broward County.
Affordable Workforce Housing
Upon taking the oath of office as a Commissioner of Broward County,
I pledged that one of my main goals was to find solutions to the
Affordable Workforce Housing crisis in our county. A county without
truly affordable housing options is a county hobbled and unequal. The
Broward metro area is one of the worst in the country for severe cost
burden for working households, and this housing affordability problem has widespread
negative impact on economic development and job growth.
To create funds for housing needs, a documentary stamp tax is paid on all real estate
transactions. The revenue collected from this tax is forwarded to Tallahassee and dedicated to state and local housing trust funds, known as the Sadowski Trust Fund. Unfortunately, there are huge discrepancies between the revenue that Broward County contributes to the trust fund and the amount that is allocated to Broward for Broward’s housing needs. In order to solve this problem, the State of Florida must not continue to sweep hundreds of millions of dollars from the Sadowski Trust Fund, must fully fund the Trust Fund, and update the
distribution formula to reflect current state needs.
Our Senior Community
Providing for our senior community has always been of utmost importance to me. Our seniors deserve to live their lives in comfort and dignity, particularly during some of their most vulnerable older years. I will work to ensure that Broward seniors have access to high-quality services,
including transportation, affordable home care and healthcare, and more. In fact, I am a current board member of the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). This organization serves as the prime advocate for residents of Broward County who are 60 years of age or older. The ADRC also
provides information about important community resources for seniors. Recently, I
participated in discussions with county transportation officials about how to make the Transportation Options (TOPS) Program efficient and accommodating. This service
provides disabled individuals with door-to-door transportation around Broward County.
I look forward to doing everything in my power to help make Broward County the best place in Florida for seniors.
I am happy to announce that the mayor has appointed me to several advisory boards,
including the Climate Change Task Force, which seeks to develop recommendations for a coordinated, county-wide strategy in mitigating the causes of global climate change; the Juvenile Justice Board, which aims to implement policy changes that address the unique needs of Florida’s at-risk youth. Lastly, I’m also a member of the Homeless Continuum of Care Board, which is an issue near and dear to my heart. This Board helps to develop a long-term strategic plan that addresses the needs of homeless individuals and households. At the end of January, my staff and I participated in Broward’s Homeless Point-In-Time Count. This event consisted of a 3-day count and survey of all homeless persons throughout the county. The information is used to substantiate need for federal and state grants, as well as to provide up-to-date information about the needs of the persons experiencing homelessness in Broward County.
Tragedy at the Airport
Like many of you, I was both shocked and saddened about the horrific airport shooting
that occurred on January 6, 2017. Sadly, it seems as though these tragedies are becoming
more common, and lawmakers at all levels of government must come together and create
meaningful reforms to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of those who are
mentally ill. This effort should not only include lawmakers, but it should also involve
physicians, social workers, law enforcement, and experts in mental health. For far too long,
mental illness has carried a stigma that only serves to discourage those who need help
the most. We need to come together as a community and end the stigma while providing
affordable and high quality care.
I want to thank all of the law enforcement officials, first responders, doctors, nurses, and
airport workers who put their lives on the line and who worked tirelessly to not only save
lives, but also help passengers reclaim their lost luggage and other items that had been
left at the airport. I am also encouraged by the way our diverse community came together
in the face of adversity.
Broward County Commission District 1