A Proven Track Record in Tallahassee
Cutting Taxes and Reducing Spending
Gayle is a tried and true fiscal conservative who voted to cut $28 billion in taxes as our State Representative. Gayle was one of two Republicans who voted against what would have been the largest sales tax increase in Florida history. She sponsored the renewal of the Florida Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and consistently voted for important sales tax holidays to provide relief to consumers.
The public health and safety of all Floridians remains the top priority of the Florida Senate. In collaboration with our partners in the Florida House of Representatives and Governor Ron DeSantis, the legislature assured that the necessary resources are available to address the pandemic.
The 2020/21 budget directs more than $52 million in state and federal dollars be immediately available to continue the state’s response to COVID-19. In additional $300 million was added into state reserves, which may be used to respond to the coronavirus and its effect on Floridians and our state’s economy. State reserve funds can be used to provide immediate resources to address the state’s most pressing needs, which may include laboratory supplies, additional staffing to expand capacity to investigate and monitor individuals with COVID-19 and those at risk for contracting the virus, personal protective equipment, test kits, and enhanced communication to the general public. The budget ensures the Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Administration and Florida Division of Emergency Management will have the funding and resources necessary. It also sets aside nearly $4 billion in record reserves to prepare for the impacts of COVID-19.
Florida ranks third in the nation for best education system, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest report (K-12 and Higher Education combined).
This year, the Florida Senate passed major, comprehensive K-12 education legislation that ensures all students in Florida have access to a world-class education by supporting our public schools teachers and giving parents the opportunity to choose the best education for their child. 2020 will be known as “The Year of the Teacher.”
Recognizing that Florida’s schools would not be what they are without the dedicated work of our teachers, the Florida Senate provided $500 million to increase teacher salaries.
We also increased access to school choice options for both low and middle-income families by raising the cap on total enrollment growth for the Family Empowerment Scholarship. This gives parents the opportunity to receive a voucher to enroll their child in the school that best fits their needs.
Finally, to ensure the safety and well-being of our student athletes, we approved the “Zachary Martin Act,” which adds safeguards to protect students participating in athletics and extracurricular activities during hot weather in order to prevent heat-related injuries or death.
Providing Care for our Veterans
We know the sacrifices made by military families aren’ t made by just an individual but by the entire family, including the children of service members.
This year, the Florida Senate passed legislation that gives greater flexibility to transitioning students from military families by considering a student a resident of the school district at the point in time in which the parent is transferred or pending transfer to a military installation within the state.
Additionally, The Florida Senate is committed to honoring the spouses of our veterans and that is why we passed a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution to allow the homestead property tax discount for disabled veterans to transfer to a veteran’s surviving spouse upon the death of the veteran.
We passed protections against scammers of veterans, upheld the respect and honor of military uniforms, medals, and insignia, delivered additional benefits for disabled veterans, and provided adoption benefits for veterans and service members seeking to adopt.
During the 2020 Legislative Session, we made it our priority to take meaningful action to protect and preserve Florida’s environment. The budget reflects that commitment by providing record funding to protect and restore our unique environment in Florida. Our budget includes:
- $2.3 billion for the Department of Environmental Protection including:
- over $318 million dollars to fund Everglades restoration
- nearly $237 million in water quality improvements
- $10.0 million GR Water Quality Improvements – Blue Green Algae Task Force
- $50 million in funding for beach restoration and nourishment
- $100 million for Florida Forever program
Clean Waterways Act
Major legislation was also passed to preserve and protect our environment. Senator Harrell was a cointroducer of SB 712, the “Clean Waterways Act,” which transforms policy regarding septic tanks, bio solids, wastewater and storm water infrastructure, and agriculture and protects our environment against harmful spills, a critical step toward preserving our water quality and health.
SB 712 aims to improve the quality of Florida’s water resources and maintain those improvements for years to come. The bill:
- Requires increased regulation of septic tanks that are a source of nutrient pollution.
- Requires back-up plans for wastewater facilities when power outages occur to ensure that discharges of untreated wastewater are minimized.
- Requires annual updates from wastewater facilities detailing how certain funds are being used so the state can ensure that the facility is conducting proper infrastructure upgrades, repairs, and maintenance.
- Requires inspections of certain farms enrolled in best management practices to ensure compliance.
- Requires stormwater maintenance and design requirements to be updated to improve stormwater systems across Florida.
- Creates grant programs for the funding of water quality projects across the state.
The impact of COVID 19 on our Seniors and those with underlining health conditions has been devastating. The impact has been particularly devastating to those in our longterm care facilities. As Chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee, Senator Harrell shepherded several bills to improve access, affordability and patient safety for our Seniors and to all Floridians. CS/CS/HB 767 modernizes assisted living facilities (ALFs) statutes to improve patient safety, protect residents under ALF care, increase efficiencies in delivering basic care and protect residents impacted by facility closures.
Last session, Senator Harrell introduced, and the legislature passed SB 1526, Telehealth, which established the statutory basis and definition for telehealth. This bill paved the way for the expanded use of technology to allow patients to be seen by their doctor withouthaving to visit the doctor’s office. This important reform has proven to be especially helpful throughout the current pandemic to allow patients to have access to necessary To find out more, go to: flsenate.gov healthcare providers while practicing social distancing and staying safe.