| Committee Meetings Begin with a Budget Bang
| Committee Meetings hosted this week brought lawmakers up to speed on happenings since they left Tallahassee in April 2021, as well key agency legislative budget requests.
We are reporting on a few important happenings in this issue of the Advocate:
- Rep. Josie Tomkow, (Polk City-R) Chairs the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; they met on Tuesday September 21, 2021 to introduce new members as well as to get updates from agency leadership.
- On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Harrell (Stuart-R) heard presentations by the Florida Department of Transportation on the development of their Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Master Plan and from Florida Power & Light Company on their Electric Vehicle Charging Initiatives. As electric cars become more prevalent on our roads and highways, adding more charging stations is essential to their success. The addition of these stations may encourage increased ridership and usage of electric vehicles, improving air quality in the state. The plan has been funded in part by the 2018 multi-state Volkswagen Settlement.
- The Senate Agriculture Committee, Chaired by Sen. Darryl Rouson (St. Petersburg-D) met on Thursday, September 23, 2021 to be apprised of an important issue facing the state: Racial inequality in Florida Agriculture. Dania Davey, a director with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund, briefed the committee about the decline of Black farmers in Florida. Ms. Davey stated that Black farmers are losing nearly 4,000 acres each year while receiving less than half the government payments that non-Black farmers receive. Black farmers disproportionally are victims of discriminatory lending practices and lack adequate access to capital. Chair Rouson is committed to working to improve conditions for Black farmers in the state with fair and equitable access to resources for their continued success.
- The Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Florida Depart of Agricultural Services provided an overview of their legislative budget requests for FY22.
Highlights are provided below: