by Jane Merriam, Secretary, Charlotte County Democrats
Four Charlotte County Democrats spoke to local state legislators about issues affecting Charlotte County that we would like to be addressed during the 2020 Legislative Session. Bill Welsh, Brenda Curtis, Judith Fincher, myself, and more than 15 other Charlotte Dems were among about 75 residents who met with the Charlotte County Legislative Delegation. The Delegation also heard from local officials and public organizations.
The Florida State Representatives representing Charlotte County are Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte), Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), and Bill Albritton (R-Bartow).
I spoke on water quality issues throughout Florida, focusing on the source of pollution: phosphate mining, fracking, septic tank, and sewage systems, single-use plastics and pesticides and herbicides.
Bill Welsh asked the legislators about the changes they made to Amendment 4 after the citizens of Florida overwhelmingly approved the Amendment by a 65% vote. He asked if the “Ban Assault Weapons” amendment is passed, would they vote to change the language in that amendment as well?
Brenda Curtis spoke in support of the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods Initiative. This initiative would restore water flow pathways that have been altered by development. This results in flooding during the rainy season and would greatly impact traffic trying to reach the new Hurricane Shelter at Babcock Ranch. She also spoke about the environmental impact on wildlife as the three new toll roads are built. And, closer to home, she asked about the displacement of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, as roads are widened along Tuckers Grade to accommodate traffic to reach the new Babcock Ranch Shelter, scheduled to open in 2021.
Finally, Judith Fincher talked about Amendment 4 from a very personal perspective. She was involved in a traffic accident many years ago in Virginia. This accident resulted in a charge, that if convicted, would have resulted in a felony conviction. Due to a variety of circumstances, she was never convicted and after a 2-year probation, her voting rights were restored. Virginia has very different laws relating to voting rights; had this happened in Florida her voting rights would have been taken away.
We received favorable responses and applause from the crowd, but the legislators didn’t have questions or comments about our statements.
A variety of other issues were discussed: Students working against tobacco, tobacco and vaping products point of sale policy, Agency on Aging, Suncoast Waterkeepers, Boys and Girls Club, Suncoast Humane Society, Airport Authority, various Land and Water Conservancy Groups, and Educational Issues. Shawn Kolanda introduced “Khyler’s Law.” This law would be named for Khyler Edman, 15, who was killed last month protecting his 5-year-old sister from a home invasion. The alleged burglar had been arrested over 20 times. “Khyler’s Law” would address issues with individuals who had been arrested over 10 times and are granted parole.
(Editors note: read the Sun News article.)