The recent scourge of senseless and violent shootings in our children’s schools and communities, not only in Florida but around the country, is a horror beyond imagining. It leaves us hollow inside as we question how safe we really are in our community and our governmental institutions’ ability to protect our children from harm. As parents and responsible citizens we must do everything in our power to stop these ruthless, yet preventable acts of violence. That is why I am a strong supporter of the Legislature’s strong bipartisan passage of the ‘Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act’.

This new law establishes the awarding of grants through the Crime Stoppers Trust Fund for student crime watch programs, as well as the establishment of the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education. The law also prohibits a person who has been declared mentally incompetent and/or has been institutionalized for mental defect from owning or possessing a firearm of any kind. Furthermore, it prohibits a young person of a certain age from purchasing a firearm, as well as prohibiting specified acts relating to the sale and possession of bump-fire stocks. Additionally the law creates the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission within the Department of Law Enforcement, among other optional but strong measures totaling $400 Million.

Although this new law goes far in addressing this crisis, these violent events are occurring too often and we have to examine the road our culture is taking. We must all take a good look at ourselves and reject our desensitized culture of death and embrace a culture that affirms and embraces life.

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Our local and national economies are beginning to bounce back from years of stagnation and needless bureaucratic obstacles. Small and large businesses and enterprises are starting to expand their operations throughout Florida, creating new quality paying jobs, ultimately paving the way for higher wages for everyone. The national unemployment rate is at a historic 3.9%. These events are all very encouraging but we must do more so that the economic recovery we are experiencing becomes permanent.

As your next State Senator, I will work with my colleagues to bring significant investments that foster economic growth to our state and our community, by attracting major companies who are coming back to the U.S. to relocate to South Florida while enticing those that are thinking of relocating elsewhere to remain in the Sunshine State. As your voice in Tallahassee, I will do everything in my power to protect the backbone of our economy; our small business community from unnecessary taxes, fees, and bureaucratic red tape, making it easier and faster for them to open, expand, and create new, higher paying jobs for everyone.

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It is simply unacceptable that we, South Floridians, must spend more time in our cars than with our families and friends. In West Miami-Dade alone, it takes approximately 1 to 2 hours for us to commute to our jobs and back every single day. That's 2 to 4 hours a day, every day! We can and must do better if our economy is to thrive and our quality of life is to improve.

As your next State Senator, I will tackle this seemingly endless problem head-on by working closely with my colleagues to legislate effective traffic solutions, including bringing rapid transit systems to all our major Miami-Dade corridors so that commuters can choose to spend less time sitting in their cars and more time with their families. However, if that weren’t enough, our current toll systems are causing real economic hardships to all our residents. Not only do we have to sit in our cars for hours to reach our destination, we have to pay through the nose to do so. We can and must do better. Once in Tallahassee, I will demand a legislative audit of not only the Florida’s toll system but also the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority’s (MDX) records in order to see how well our transit agencies are spending our hard-earned tax dollars in projects that are truly cost-effective and worthwhile for our communities and all our residents.

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The path to success in life is having a sound educational foundation. As a former Trustee of Miami-Dade College, the largest institution of higher learning in the country, and former Chairwoman of the Association of Florida Colleges Trustees Commission, I know first-hand the importance for every child to receive a proper public education at all stages of life.

As your next State Senator, it will be one of my highest priorities to ensure that all our institutions of learning from primary to secondary education and beyond are well funded and well equipped with all the tools needed so that their focus is education. That same commitment applies to all our underpaid teachers and educators. It is simply unacceptable to know that all too often our teachers have no other recourse but to pay for materials for their students out of the their own pocket, simply because the school districts fail to plan accordingly and equip every school with the necessary tools needed for a teacher to do his/her job properly.

As State Senator, I will fight so that every teacher not only gets all the tools they need for them to do their jobs, but I will work to increase their salaries so they don’t have to seek a 2nd job or choose a different profession in order to make ends meet.

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Let’s be realistic, our current Healthcare System simply isn’t working for Floridians. As a former Commissioner to the Florida Healthcare and Hospital Funding Commission, I traveled every inch of Florida attending forums regarding concerns about how to make healthcare more affordable for everyone.

What we have failed to do, is to come up with efficient solutions that focus on the patient and not the system itself. It is a proven fact that in order to drive health care costs down for Florida families, we must drive competition up by giving every Floridian the right to purchase health insurance across state lines. We also have an obligation to protect the working poor who are not able to provide healthcare for themselves and their families. As your voice in Tallahassee, I will work to make healthcare affordable for all Floridians, and protect it from unnecessary government control and needless overreach.

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