STATEMENT BY SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER CHRIS SMITH ON 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
TALLAHASSEE – Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) released the following statement on the conclusion of the 2014 legislative session:
“One major issue dominated the agenda of the 2014 legislative session: propping up a governor seeking re-election whose poll numbers are flagging. Ironically, it meant Republicans were finally forced to embrace some of the priorities Senate Democrats have pushed for years.
“Just four years after a campaign catering to the tea party by targeting illegal immigrants, Governor Rick Scott will now be signing legislation both Senators Darren Soto (D-Orlando) and Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) have long sought, namely in-state tuition for undocumented children.
“He’ll be signing legislation legalizing low-THC medical marijuana. Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) has tried for years to pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana for Florida’s desperately ill patients. Remember, Governor Scott earlier this year vowed to vote against a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana Senate Democrats also supported. It finally took dimming re-election prospects to bring him around.
“These two actions alone mark a stunning turnaround for a governor and a legislature so fixed on ultra-conservative causes. And these two reversals mark a noteworthy admission that our priorities overwhelmingly resonate with the people.
“And so it’s unfortunate that at the same time the governor in his re-election bid appears to have moved slightly to the center, one foot remains stubbornly affixed to the hard right. There were still a remarkable number of special interest bills pushed, and some of them passed, at odds with common sense and public safety.
“While the legislature refused to, at the very least, clarify Stand Your Ground, it took the time to send legislation to the governor expanding it by legalizing warning shots. Likewise, bills ensuring that a child has the legal right to chew a pop tart into the shape of a gun, and banning ‘discrimination’ against gun owners by insurance companies also await his signature.
“And the governor and the Republican leadership continue to fight the federal health care law by refusing to expand Medicaid. At last count, one million Floridians have joined Senate Democrats in embracing the law, the highest number of people in the nation signing up through federal exchanges. But one million more remain blocked from access because Medicaid coverage remains out of reach.
“As the election concludes and the legislature once again turns to the business at hand, Senate Democrats will continue to advocate for issues that matter. The Republicans need to keep listening.”