Progress Florida grades Florida lawmakers’ 2019 votes

Thirteen Florida legislators won a progressive organization’s title of “People’s Champions” for their votes on key legislation during the 2019 legislative session. That’s up from three legislators the year before on Progress Florida’s “People’s First” report card.

Republicans scored much lower on the progressive nonprofit’s key priorities, including a new law making it more difficult to promote citizens’ initiatives to amend the Florida Constitution; the “billionaire boondoggle” plan to push toll roads through undeveloped Florida; and the plan to arm classroom teachers.

“Florida politicians like to talk a good game when it comes to supporting Florida families, but this scorecard shows which ones are actually walking the walk with their votes,” Mark Ferrulo, the organization’s executive director, said in a written statement.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important Floridians know which lawmakers are doing right by everyday Floridians, and which ones are really in the hip pocket of corporate lobbyists or ideological extremists,” he said.

The group awarded letter grades to lawmakers based on their votes for or against 17 bills during the session. Thirty-nine won “A” grades – all Democrats, including the 13 who voted with the organization 100 percent of the time.

They are Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami and Reps. Kamia Brown of Ocoee; John Cortes of Kissimmee; Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale; Anna Eskamani of Orlando; Joy Goff-Marcil of Maitland; Michael Gottlieb of Davie; Evan Jenne of Hollywood; Dotie Joseph of North Miami; Amy Mercado of Orlando; Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando; Geraldine Thompson of Windermere; and Clovis Watson of Alachua.

Democrat Wengay Newton, by contrast, scored 67 – a D. Progress Florida dinged him for votes on bills including private school vouchers and the toll roads plan.

Sen. Anitere Flores, who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, got the best score among GOP legislators with 59 percent – still, an F.

The lowest score – 21 – went to Jay Trumbull, a Republican House member from Panama City. Progress Florida liked his votes to provide cancer benefits for firefighters, reform the criminal justice system; provide free sanitary products for incarcerated women; and allow smokable forms of medical marijuana. The group  looked less favorably on his votes in favor of private school vouchers, gutting controlss on unregulated development, and mandatory parental consent for minors’ abortions.

The organization noted Gov. Ron DeSantis’ role in pushing conservative priorities through the Legislature.

“The 2019 Legislature will be remembered for indefensible attacks on voting rights, civil rights, our environment, and public schools,” Ferrulo said. “Once again, special interests ruled the day, while legislative leadership rammed through regressive policies that will harm our state for years to come.”

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

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