For the fourth week of legislative session, Florida Voices for Health held a mix of virtual and in-person appointments
in-district with aides, as well as virtual and in-person visits in the Capitol with elected officials and staffers. Although we traveled to the Capitol with a smaller than usual convoy (one FVH staffer and one Health Care for Florida grassroots advocate), we were able to participate in arguably one of our most dynamic weeks yet. Given the comparatively smaller number of health advocates in town to tromp the Capitol halls with us, the actual experience of visiting Tallahassee this week far exceeded our own expectations and we’re incredibly thankful for all that we were able to do and accomplish. Amongst the highlights of our advocacy this week:
Florida Voices for Health was able to attend the 6th Annual State of Latines Press Conference at the Capitol and hear from our incredible partners and an array of powerful speakers from organizations including but not limited to: the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the Southern Birth Justice Network, the Southern Birth Justice Project, Dignity Power, the Florida Access Network, and many more, as well as an array of members in office.
We were able to attend an eye-opening meeting led by Catalyst Miami policy fellows with Representative Robinson that included some truly exemplary story-sharing by the member’s own constituents regarding the health advocacy work she’s done as a champion of HB 659 – Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
In the Senate and House offices, we shared with staffer after staffer an informational guide from the Family Healthcare Foundation on how to serve their constituents going through Medicaid redeterminations as part of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) Unwind, and we simultaneously fielded reporter requests on the PHE Unwind by amplifying the stories of families that are at risk and/or have lost access to critical health care with the support of our partner Dr. Vanessa Brito.
We traveled in county to the district office of Representative Dan Daley, and met with yet another lovely staffer that shared about how they have a personal connection to our policy priorities and advocacy work.
We presented at a legislative advocacy training alongside representatives of Florida For All, the State Innovation Exchange, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Catalyst Miami.
We held extended discussions with folks from Dignity Power about the nature of helping voters harness power to effect change, and with the Florida Student Power Network on the future of advocacy and democracy in our state.
As mentioned last week, we’ve noticed it’s becoming harder and harder to secure meetings with elected officials as the session draws to a close. This is not just the case for us, our other partners have been facing the same difficulties. We spoke with our partner, Karen Woodall, legislative consultant and veteran community organizer with the Florida Center for Fiscal & Economic Policy and were informed that this trend might be related to the sheer number of committees and hearings the members are juggling this session is higher than usual. On Florida Voices for Health’s end, we have been compensating by engaging even more dynamically with officials than usually. We attended multiple committee hearings this week and caught policy makers on their way in and out of these spaces. We completed drop-ins with teams we’re waiting on emails back from, and walked through offices introducing ourselves to staffers we haven’t been in contact with in office. We’ve continued to lean on district relationships to help us secure meetings, and sent repeated follow ups to ensure our emails are not getting lost in the deluge this legislative session. With that all being said, we’re also shifting our expectations, asking for less time from elected officials and boiling down our introductions and asks to improve the chances of getting in front of those in power. Next week, we have a host of impassioned health advocates and experts joining us once again in the Capitol to wrap up our fifth and final week of the Impacting the Legislative Session campaign. As the week includes Passover and leads into the Easter weekend, we have been informed legislators have been allowed to return to their districts Wednesday – Friday. We are aware we will be catching members on the tail end of their time in the Capitol, and we are looking forward to ending our campaign – and their weeks – on a high point by discussing all the relationships we’ve built with elected officials and teams as well as momentum we’ve gained on our key policy priorities this legislative session.
Here are some pictures from Week 4 (March 27 through 31)