Florida is a state that, historically, has never been in a position to handle its rapid and sporadic rates of growth. Unbridled industry has had consequences that have already negatively impacted quality of life. The heart of this campaign proposes Green New Deal policies and programs that aim to invest in Florida in ways that will ensure sensible growth and development, alongside adequate jobs and training programs to see them fulfilled.
Audit all state-level Departments in accordance with their own internal plans and goals.
Review and publish white paper of every Executive Branch agency's results measured against its previous 10-year plans.
Conduct a formal analysis and engineering study of which roads are most vulnerable to sea level rise and estimate cost of upgrades.
Audit the FPL $500 million hardening of the system.
Update management policies to prioritize protection of natural resources and implement strict enforcement of Environmental Impact Studies requirements.
Reinstate the Florida Department of Community Affairs.
Review and audit the major budget and funding cuts undertaken under the Scott administration and determine which require reinstatement.
Direct the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force to audit all state industry for fossil fuel consumption usage and determine new baseline maximum emission rates.
Review the effects that the term-limits approved by Constitutional amendment in 1992 have had on the composition of the Legislature and in favoring incumbents.
Oppose attempts to pass pre-emption bills through the Legislature, which override local community control.
Reinstate former Governor Reubin Askew's Merit-Retention System vs. Judicial Nominating Conventions dominated by large law firms in order to maintain separation of powers and uphold impartiality under the law.
Florida has now become the 3rd most populous state, with its largest population center ranked as the least civically engaged in the country. Elections are won on razor-thin margins of victory, and incumbents have it made in the Sunshine State.
Florida's historic election problems, recount debacles, and reduction of early voting days have helped make it a battleground for voting rights. These conditions ensure that civic energy consistently fails to break through the political gridlock and find solutions.
The restoration of voting rights was sharply curtailed under the Scott administration. The Clemency Board of Review oversaw dramatically fewer cases than under Crist, and in 2011 a law was passed that made it more difficult for felons to regain their voting rights even after serving their full sentences.
The role and importance of citizen advocacy needs to be elevated, as only organized people can counteract the influence of special interests and lobbyists, restrictive ballot access laws, and selective media treatment of candidates.
Voting is a civic duty, and the state can play a major role in improving voter turnout, teaching voters about districts, and helping them understand their role in the ballot petition process.
Citizens should have a clear understanding of the electoral and legislative process, and understand the difference in role and jurisdiction of county, circuit, and appellate judges in order to be informed voters in judicial elections.The campaign supports:
Citizens should become familiar with the citizen-toolbox: writing op-eds, contacting elected officials, speaking at public meetings, and ensuring decision-makers know where there is a clear consensus.
Public affairs at all local levels should be easily accessible through broadcast television and over the internet. Election dates should be widely publicized in multiple mediums well in advance.
A cooperatively learned civics will result in a cooperative civic paradigm. Information about Commissioners, Committees, Planning Advisory Board Members, State House/Senate Districts, Congressional District, Court Districts should be easily accessible and adequately communicated to all residents.
Two-thirds of voters sat out the last election cycle, even as some innovation is taking place, with the State of Florida first introducing online voting registration in Oct. 2016.
The campaign supports the chartering of a state bank to fund public infrastructure and basic necessary social goods. Currently only the State of North Dakota has a state-owned bank, which allowed it to escape the worst consequences of the recession, but is used to fund massive dirty shale energy projects. A Florida State Bank would need to be tightly chartered for specific purposes, and only allowed to invest in clean energy technologies. Green New Deal jobs and training programs will provide abundant opportunity and put an end to widespread unemployment. The state also does not have a dedicated revenue source for acquiring or managing the state's resources. Funding priorities include:
What's needed now is a Green New Deal, modeled on the original New Deal passed in the wake of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, featuring jobs and training programs in areas such as expanding and investing in public transit and coping with the impacts of rising sea levels.
"The American highway system is the most costly public works project undertaken by any culture since the building of the pyramids and the great wall of China." -Hazel Henderson
Florida's history of flawed development patterns and neglected infrastructure have had enormous impacts, as poor planning decisions made years ago have become facts of life. Reversing these trends while coping with sustained population growth will require long-term vision.
What's needed now is a Green New Deal, modeled on the original New Deal passed in the wake of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, featuring jobs and training programs in areas such as expanding and investing in public transit and coping with the impacts of rising sea levels. Implementing smart growth policies, complete streets, promoting urban infill, and rebuilding our cities in tune with the best principles of New Urbanism provides a solution that will benefit a broad array of stakeholders and have many additional economic benefits.
Doing so will require strong citizen participation in local charrettes, to debate issues regarding implementation, including alternatives and aesthetic considerations.
The centerpiece of the Green New Deal is the creation and investment in public sector jobs to upgrade infrastructure, which will immediately reduce unemployment and begin directing activity toward the states most pressing problems.
Critical investments like upgrading stormwater and sewer systems, burying electric power lines, and funding adaptation and mitigation solutions to better prepare for the impacts of sea level rise and a changing climate. Investments weatherizing homes and businesses have shown to pay for themselves in as little as 3 years time.
Florida's agricultural lands provide many untapped opportunities. Subsidies could be created for local industry and small businesses to help attain the goals of the sustainability programs in areas such as the production of biodegradable alternatives to plastic.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that annual cost of congestion to motorists in urban areas is approximately $7 billion. (FDOT)
Transit ridership in populous southern Florida's urban centers has decreased, even as population is dramatically increasing. According to INRIX, Miami has consequently become the 10th most congested city in the world.
There have been seemingly no real upgrades to the system in many years. The transit experience is not comparable in terms of reliability, convenience and comfort compared to other transit systems in use worldwide. Only when infrastructure is upgraded and expanded can it be expected for usage to increase, as the example of bicycle ridership in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere have shown.
Even if the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan (SMART) currently proposed for Miami-Dade County were fully implemented, the region would still require a massive transit overhaul.
The consequences of equating vehicle ownership as a lifestyle necessity has led to increased vehicular homicides and to the ultimate detriment of quality of life. The lack of investment in drivers training programs in public schools has contributed to a dangerous and aggressive driving climate.
Easing traffic is also necessary due to the costs associated with prioritizing the expensive upgrades to Florida's roads, which in some cases need to be raised and rerouted to deal with drainage improvements. Bold investments and a comprehensive approach are needed in order to bring Florida up to a 21st Century infrastructure.
Memorandums of Understanding with local transit agencies will be necessary, utilizing comprehensive public involvement programs, meetings with the public, interoperation between governmental agencies, elected officials, municipal staff, local transportation providers, and other interested parties.
FDOT Secretaries and local transit authorities like Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) and their hiring Directors must be instructed in advancing the knowledge and acceptance of innovative transit solutions.
Transportation system performance and accessibility should be maximized and integrated with surrounding land-use and development in order to reduce traveler delays on state highways efficiently and affordably.
The first phases of the transit overhaul should begin by upgrading long-neglected existing facilities and stations. Raising standards by ensuring cleanliness and accessibility, installing covered shelters, charging stations, and other enhanced amenities will provide an immediate benefit to the existing needs of commuters using already-served routes and in anticipation of projected population and employment growth.
State policy should begin reflecting the transit needs of all residents and constituents rather than those solely linked to areas of the highest tourist demand.
A modern Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system could be incrementally implemented which includes, but not limited to, the following features:
The next phases should focus on linking cities' various systems of public transportation and expanding routes to achieve maximum capacity and explore where there are opportunities for deployment of existing technologies. Above-grade solutions are necessary so that new infrastructure does not conflict with existing vehicle and rail corridors. Upgrading rest stops and adding additional Park-and-Ride facilities can ease congestion and limit the need for expressway traffic.
Finally, following engineering and environmental impact studies, new infrastructure intended to unite larger regions should begin:
Preparing for the future includes improving clean-electric-car charging station accessibility and convenience. If the electricity grid isn't clean, electric cars aren't clean!
Providing APIs for the buildout of third-party apps and leveraging real-time transit data can provide opportunities for civic tech. Citizen-participation opportunities for input and feedback and other projects that have been tried elsewhere can lead to even more innovative solutions.
A shift in the policymaking environment will be necessary to prioritize preparing and building for greater resiliency. Mitigation for climate change requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible. Adaptation will involve weighing evidence to determine expected impacts, assessing costs, and deploying solutions based on where climate impacts are expected.
Florida's urban centers, hollowed out from years of urban sprawl, are badly in need of infill and mixed-use development.
Modern regulations should prioritize reducing wasteful consumption of resources, reducing sprawl, promoting mixed-used zoning codes, diversity of housing, and pedestrian-only areas. Architectural and land use planning needs to be rethought to prioritize small businesses and encourage more green spaces as major anchor stores and shopping malls decline.
Quality of life has been impacted by food and water quality, as healthcare is declining despite high costs, with recent insurance rate increases of over 800%. Finding ways to reduce and prevent chronic disease will pay for itself in the form of lowered health care costs.
Strong Urban Development Boundaries (UDB's) are necessary to establish proper land-use planning for infill and transition towns projects. Communities should be rebuilt along the best principles of New Urbanism development, facilitating pedestrian accessibility, walkability, "complete streets", and the promotion and increased use of public transit.
Building sea-level-rise and long-term thinking into planning in the form of improved building codes, beach renourishment, and roof cover retrofits will also save money in annual losses over their lifetime.
Florida's tourism-based economy makes this transition difficult because fast and cheap transactions are what's prioritized. Policy shifts are necessary to begin deepening a conservation mindset and reverse decades of backwards policies and norms.
The ability of our urban places to cope with the impact of high energy demands and high fuel costs requires a change in both the concept and layout of cities as we know them. Our fragile resources and environment will not allow us to keep using and abusing them as has been taking place since the state's development began strongly after WWII.
Florida contains the 4th largest urban area in the nation, the Miami Urbanized Area. However, the innovative and forward-thinking Miami 21 zoning code passed in 2010 has been unrealized, with many variances issued and little mention from elected officials. The highways remain the 10th most congested in the world. Increased risk of flooding from intense hurricanes and sea level rise make for a highly precarious situation.
Much of Florida now consists of impersonal stretches of strip malls, faceless suburbia, and endless parking lots. The most expensive and publicized projects in recent years have been characterized by auto-dependence, massive parking structure requirements, and have had an unrelenting gentrifying effect on neighborhoods while delivering little overall value in return.
New planning and zoning policies are needed to transform Florida's suburban sprawl and address the urgent need for infill development. Establishing a strong sense-of-place and distinction to Miami's neighborhoods. Expanding bike lanes, "complete streets". and investing in clean, affordable modes of transportation will help link and improve diverse areas of the metropolitan region.
Density and mix of development needs to be prioritized while further development no development in low-lying and flood-prone areas should be prohibited.
These changes will have many benefits, from increased energy conservation benefits to real estate values, which studies have shown increase as neighborhoods become more walkable.
Often when we perceive our surroundings from the perspective of urban environments, we don't think of ourselves as living on a watershed. Florida's unique and fragile ecosystem relies on a unique topology and hydrology, subject to wet and dry seasons and minute fluctuations. Maintaining delicate nutrient levels is necessary to balance conservation efforts with agricultural use.
In the early 1900's the Everglades were first drained in fulfillment of a campaign pledge by Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, although it wasn't until 1940's that the levee system was constructed that finally disconnected the Everglades from its historic flow.
Over time, the flow has been dramatically altered from its natural course by a network of canals and dams. Further damage has been caused by coastal development, river dredging, dams, jetties, and inlets that divert sand. Harmful bacteria and algae blooms are the consequences of damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Restoration projects are needed to protect habitat and wildlife and restore the historic flow of water. The Green New Deal will fund the costs of environmental cleanup that previously industry has passed onto consumers.
Much hard work has already been done to move the state toward restoration efforts and make necessary land acquisitions. The Florida Forever and Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects (CERP) need funding to expedite planning of the EAA Storage Reservoir Project in order to properly regulate water storage.
Florida's first attempt to pass medical marijuana legislation 2014 failed, and took an additional two years to pass in 2016. This puts Florida behind the curve on legalization. Currently in Florida law only limited conditions qualify for a medical marijuana prescription.
Expanding the cannabis and hemp industries are a natural fit since Florida is already a major agricultural state.
Apply retroactive immunity to marijuana related arrest charges.
19 states have introduced resolutions in support of industrial hemp. Canada/England/Germany/France are all experimenting, just not the U.S.
Energy in Florida is dominated by state-approved monopoly Florida Power & Light (FPL). Overseen by the Public Service Commission (PCS), which is not an elected body, the utility has a long history of providing unfair utility rates and one-sided negotiations. Its energy monopoly has essentially broadened to become a fracked-natural gas company with interests far outside the boundaries of the state.
A Green transition is needed to move Florida away from its existing obsolete energy production infrastructure.
Fossil Fuel Inefficiencies. Remedies only go so far substantially reducing emissions. Oppose Deep Injection Wells; Sabal Trail.
A full transition to a clean-energy powered economy, utilizing solar, wind, and a decentralized energy grid will help make Florida more resilient. Unlike conventional power generation, solar power generates electricity with zero air emissions and no water use.
Nuclear technology, particularly installations sited near coastal cities need to be deprecated after proving to be too risky in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
Clean energy has proven to be popular around the state, as proved by the passage of Yes on Amendment 4, and No on 1, which would have cemented FPL's energy monopoly into law.
The solar choice that Floridians won now needs backing and investment to help them bypass the monopoly electric utility and encourage development of alternatives. Revamping solar financing removing upfront costs and reducing fees will be necessary to further encourage solar adoption.
The campaign commits to:
While the United States as a whole continues to lag far behind other countries in solar adoption, Florida holds much potential as the example of Gainesville demonstrated when it became a world leader in solar after introducing comprehensive feed-in tariffs.
Florida has become a battleground for education, with the state recently graded an "F" by the Network for Public Education based on measures including the use of high-stakes testing, resistance to privatization, and wise allocation of funding resources.
The number of private schools in Florida has increased by more than 20 percent over the past 10 years.
With math and reading skills declining, at the same time high-stakes testing has had negative impacts on both students and senior teachers. Severe budget cuts that have yet to fully be restored and the elimination of contracts have further increased teacher attrition and job satisfaction rates.
One of the first acts of the Scott Administration was to reduce a budget shortfall by cutting more than $1 billion from the K-12 education budget, crippling public schools for the remainder of his tenure.
Legislative efforts like HB7055 have been creating further legal loopholes and incentives for charter schools, and that simultaneously chip away at public-sector teacher's union certification.
Privatized schools have not proven to be more effective than public schools, and often operate without oversight and outside the constraints of state regulations.
In the most recent budget, spending on security needs has taken a priority over the basic necessities for teaching.
Virtual schools are another growing sector that create value by replacing teachers with technology, also without clear evidence of effectiveness.
Florida is home to the 4th largest school district in the country Miami-Dade County, and will need to undergo a full scale transformation or continue to underperform, leaving students and teachers behind.
Florida's crime rate may be at a 47 year low, but it remains an epicenter of misused authority, discriminatory policies, and widespread abuse throughout state-run and privately owned correctional facilities.
Numerous abuse of force incidents, including those caught on video, have gone uninvestigated and unpunished, which has provoked outrage and exacerbated tensions between law enforcement and communities.
At the same time, a School-to-Prison Pipeline has been constructed that functions by diverting juvenile and first-time offenders into the criminal justice system. Even minor infractions and misbehavior has led to arrests and the creation of records, instead of meaningfully crafted and implemented school discipline policies.
And Florida notoriously maintains its reputation as home to some of the largest for-profit private prisons, which have kept jails filled in conjunction with arrest quotas negotiated along with the contracts for their expansion.
"Stand-Your-Ground" laws have correlated with a doubling of homicide rates when implemented in other states, and Florida's in particular has been interpreted and applied in clearly discriminatory and inconsistent ways.
The campaign commits to:
By reallocating budgets towards public defenders and civil legal aid programs, Florida can reverse its reputatation and criminal justice can be addressed according to clear legal standards, along with consistent due process and the expectation of humane conditions.
The vast majority of industrialized nations provide some type of universal health coverage for their citizens. In the U.S., however, members of Congress have been overwhelmingly preoccupied with allocating the federal budget toward matters of defense rather than spending in the public interest. Additionally, exhorbitant damage awards from medical malpractice lawsuits and noncompetitive pharmaceutical prices drive up costs even further. As a consequence, American's spend much more on healthcare compared to other countries, yet have significally lower life-expectancy rates.
The states, particularly the State of Florida, is limited in what it can provide due to a budget that is dependent on sales tax revenue, and a Constitutional amendment forbidding an income tax.
According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, more than 2.6 million Floridian's lack insurance coverage, the fifth-highest rate in the nation.
Throughout my research to find solutions, I found Medicaid to be too restrictive and inflexible a program to support expansion. States are not allowed to alter the program based on perceived waste, and the potential for rising costs over time.
However, several states have begun implementing their own market-based approaches to healthcare. Among these I found the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) to be the most innovative and proven, with high rates of satisfaction. HIP 2.0 provides a form of public option for low income adults not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Members pay a monthly contribution to a Personal Wellness and Responsibility (POWER) savings account based on income, which is then matched with cost-sharing state funds.
While not a form of universal coverage, I feel that this approach presents a model for a public option that could realistically be passed by a conservative legislature and without having to raise taxes.
I support a single payer system to cover all residents but full implementation, such as passing H.R. 676, ultimately remains a question for Congress.
Florida is uniquely positioned between two of the largest environmental preserves in the country, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Wildlife, yet a spirit of stewardship has not extended into the urban centers.
The millions of migratory birds that used to call the Everglades home are now largely silent, decimated by decades of hunting and habitat loss. Florida is home to uniquely threatened and endangered species including the Florida Panther, butterflies, Pine Rocklands beetle, and others. Preservation of its unique biodiversity will require sensitivity to marine life requirements.
Florida is also infamous for importation and Introduction of invasive species (melaleuca, etc.)
Ongoing degradation of Florida's natural environment compounds problems unique to the fragile ecosystem such as sinkholes.
Ever since WWII, Florida has been sorely in need of a comprehensive approach to growth and water management. The state is unprepared for the multiple threats it now faces. 2015 was hottest year ever recorded in Miami, while sea level rise threatens to put billions of dollars of home values at risk.
The Green New Deal supports funding to address:
Land use management policies need to be reviewed and evaluated for impact such as the impact of off-road vehicles and airboats, and seismic testing for oil drilling.
The Florida Forever program (implemented under Reuben Askew) was the largest land-buying program in the country, until its gutting under the Scott administration in 2009. Innovative program needs to be resurrected and fully funded so that Florida can ensure that quality lands are safeguarded for future generations.
Every body of water where saltwater and freshwater mix is classified as an estuary. Much of the state's shipping and commercial industries depend on them, as do the habitats of many native and endangered species which require conservation and protection from pollution and overuse.
Maintaining clean water requires an understanding of the quality, timing, and distribution, as well as the importance of natural cycles: how seagrass oxygenates the water, and how minor fluctuations in nutrient balance can cause wild changes in biological productivity.
The Everglades region is now only about 50% of its original size, and re-routed by vast flood control systems which create vulnerabilities to flooding and drought. Some regions are now overloaded with water, while others are getting less.
In 2003, for the first time since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the EPA reported that the nations waterways were getting dirtier. Under the Scott administration, regulation of allowable levels of toxins and radioactive waste in the water supply has been steadily increasing, and there has been little regard for conserving water for potable uses, creating a precarious situation.
Florida's 5 major water districts are responsible for ensuring the management of the water supply. Policies that aim for the least intrusive methods to reduce pollutants reaching bodies of water and reducing stormwater runoff are necessary investments to face the challenges to the drinking water supply that will come with an increased population influx.
The Green New Deal supports funding to address:
Commercial and industrial giants are obtaining profits from water they're obtaining, while dumping chemicals into soils and growing operations. The full health and environmental impact risks remain unknown.
In the long-term, solutions such as tree-farming, no-till organic farming, and other forms of restorative agriculture can help restore the springs and aquifer.
It's also important to inform Floridian's about the importance of water conservation. Longer dry seasons exacerbate the need to conserve, while landscaping guidelines such as Xeriscape that involve matching the right plants with existing site conditions so that the use of additional resources: water, fertilizer, pesticides, and labor is minimized, rather than fundamentally altering the natural ecosystem.
While there is uncertainty about the pace of sea level rise and whether or not it will accelerate the way that its being predicted, the record-breaking floods, storms, and toxic spills that Florida has been experiencing demand an immediate response to protect the clean water supply.
Florida is not on the whole an oil-producing state. While wells have been in active operation since 1940's, production has been on the decline since the 1970's.
Over 90 Cities and Counties have already passed local resolutions against fracking.
Florida's limestone and high water table making fracking unsafe anywhere throughout the state.
The campaign supports a full ban on all forms of high-pressure well-stimulation including acidic matrixization, and with strong enforcement mechanisms for violations.
More than 90% of Americans want labeling on GMO foods. Very little unbiased, independent scientific research has been done into the health and environmental implications of GMOs.
GMO labeling would also help level the playing field for small farmers who are already going to great lengths to take contamination-prevention measures.