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Equal Ground July Newsletter


FLORIDA BLACK POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT CALL

On Juneteenth we launched our monthly Black Political Empowerment call. Our featured speaker was Mr. Leon Russell, Chairman of the board for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the call, participants received updates around issues impacting Black people in the state of Florida and received information and tools to help improve our community.



The next call will be Monday, July 17th. Please click HERE to RSVP.


PROTECTING BLACK HISTORY



In 1994, Florida passed a law requiring the instruction of history, culture, experiences, and contributions of African Americans in the state’s K-12 curriculum. As a result, the African American History Task Force (AAHTF) was formulated to sustain this effort and support the legislative intent of the law. Given the recent attacks on Black History, diversity, and inclusion by the DeSantis administration, we have serious concerns that this critical board may deviate from its intended purpose and take on the philosophy of the Governor with respect to its views on the importance of teaching an accurate unblemished accounting of Black History. The Task Force was scheduled to meet on June 14th & 15th however, they decided to postpone the meeting. Their rationale was to allow the entire Task Force to participate in the event planning and align to the new K-12 African American History standards that will be presented to the State Board of Education (SBOE) in their July meeting. We are asking that you please take a moment to email the members of the Task Force and urge them to reschedule the summer institute meeting as soon as possible and reject any efforts to censor the truth and full spectrum of African American History. CLICK HERE to take action.


PINELLAS COUNTY LEGISLATIVE DEBRIEF

On June 24th, the St. Pete NAACP in partnership with Equal Ground hosted the 2023 Legislative Debrief for Pinellas County. Participants had an opportunity to get updates on legislative session, hear from state Legislators and other community leaders, and discover ways to stay engaged and fight for the issues that matter to our community. Below are some photos recapping the event.



NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT JULY 1st



Every year the Legislature votes to enact new laws. Sometimes these bills take effect immediately upon the Governor's signature, but the overwhelming majority of them-including the state budget take effect July 1st. Below are some of the bills that have been signed into law by Governor Desantis and will take effect on July 1, 2023. To view a comprehensive list of all bill actions by the Governor, click HERE.

  • SB 7050 - Elections

  • SB 266 - Higher Education

  • HB 411, 477 -School Board

  • HB 543- Concealed Carry

  • HB 1 - School Choice

  • HB 49 - Abandoned Cemeteries

  • SB 1718 - Immigration Law

  • HB 1069 & HB 1223 - Anti LBGTQ+ legislation

  • SB 2500 -State Budget



On June 15th, Governor Ron Desantis signed the 2023-2024 fiscal budget into law. The approved budget was $116.5 billion dollars- the largest in the history of the state. Some of the highlights from the budget include:

  • $116.5 billion dollar budget (Largest budget in state history)

  • Almost 40% of the budget is supplemented by Federal funds

  • $2.7 billion in consumer tax cuts

  • $47 billion for health care (does not include Medicaid expansion)

  • $6.7 billion for Criminal & Civil Justice

  • 5% across-the-board pay raises for state employees

  • Over $34 billion for K-12 and college education.

  • $4 billion investment in infrastructure

  • $700 to address affordable and workforce housing.

  • $12 million to prevent migrants from staying in Florida.


The approved budget was less than the $117 billion dollar budget approved by the Legislature on May 5th. That is because the Governor used the authority vested in his office to veto over $510 million in appropriation projects for various members of the legislature. Many political analysts and commentators noticed that many of the projects vetoed by the Governor included those of individuals he is not aligned with politically and/or those who refused to endorse his Presidential campaign.


Among the cuts were multiple projects that would have funded initiatives that directly support or impact the Black community. For a full list of projects that were vetoed, CLICK HERE



PUT ABORTION ON THE BALLOT

The overwhelming majority of Floridians think we should all have the freedom to make their own personal health care decisions without interference from politicians. Despite that, politicians in Florida just pushed through an abortion ban that would block care before most people even realize they are pregnant. A statewide coalition of organizations and concerned citizens are working together to protect Floridians’ access to reproductive health care and defend the right to bodily autonomy and we need your help. CLICK HERE to learn more.



AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled to end Affirmative Action programs at colleges and universities across the country. This long-anticipated decision brings an end to the legal battle that has sought to undermine the program since its inception over 60 years ago. The case that dealt the final blow to the program originated from Asian Americans challenging the admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The decision reverses decades of precedent. It ends the ability of colleges and universities — public and private — to consider race as one of many factors in deciding which of the qualified applicants is to be admitted. The sordid and racist history of this country with respect to marginalized people is why affirmative action exists. Beginning with the forced enslavement of Black people over 400 years ago and continuing with legalized segregation and discrimination. The legacy of these policies persists to this day, as evidenced by disparities in income, education, homeownership, health outcomes, and interaction with the criminal justice system. Affirmative Action sought to right a wrong that for too long excluded and prevented qualified individuals from getting the opportunities they deserve.



ALLEN v. MILLIGAN

On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision to uphold Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any voting law, practice, or map that results in the denial of the right to vote of any citizen on account of race. The decision in this case specifically blocked Alabama’s congressional map for likely violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, paving the way for the state to add an additional majority-Black district. The impact of the decision will not be limited to Alabama. Other states in the South, notably Florida, Louisiana and Georgia, may also have to redraw their maps to bolster Black voting power and protect the voting rights of Millions of Black voters. CLICK HERE to read more.



ARDOIN v. ROBINSON



On Monday, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated an order blocking Louisiana’s congressional map for diluting the voting strength of Black voters, paving the way for Louisiana to redraw its congressional map with a second majority-Black district. Now, litigation will go back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The voters and civil rights organizations who brought the case against Louisiana’s congressional map argue that Black voters can only elect their candidate of choice in one of the state’s six congressional districts even though Black residents of Louisiana compose over 33% of the total population. The lawsuit alleges that by failing to include a second minority opportunity district, the map dilutes the voting strength of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the VRA. With the case now permitted to move forward, Black voters in Louisiana will have the opportunity to gain fairer representation under a new congressional map. CLCIK HERE to read more.

MOORE v. HARPER

On Tuesday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in the landmark case Moore v. Harper, with a majority of the Court ruling to reject the independent state legislature (ISL) theory. As a result of this decision, state courts will continue to play an indispensable role in reviewing congressional maps — and other election laws regulating federal elections — enacted by state legislatures to ensure their compliance with state constitutions. This case started from a redistricting lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s legislative maps drawn by the Legislature using 2020 census data. In February 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the challenged congressional map for being a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and ordered it be replaced. In response, North Carolina Republican legislators petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court and used the ISL theory to argue that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution grants state legislatures the sole authority to draw new congressional districts and that state courts cannot review legislatively drawn congressional maps to determine whether they comply with a state’s constitution. The ruling by SCOTUS is a win for democracy and maintains the power of state courts to review federal election rules and congressional districts passed by state legislatures. CLICK HERE to read more.

HOLDING THE COURT ACCOUNTABLE



Right now, everything our communities care about is at stake, because of extreme and corrupt justices on the Supreme Court. We are proud to announce that we have partnered with United for Democracy – a new campaign launching to protect our freedoms and rein in the politicization and abuse of our judicial system. Click the video to learn more about the campaign.

JUSTICE FOR AJ OWENS



On Friday, June 2, 2023, Ajike "Aj" Owens, a devoted and loving mother of four, was tragically and unjustifiably murdered in an attempt to protect her children from racism and violence. Her family is demanding accountability for her stolen life from her killer, Ocala, Marion County, Florida, and a system that continues to devalue Black life--and is creating a dangerous future for her four children. CLICK HERE to learn more and take action.


BIDEN BLACK ENGAGEMENT



Building Back Together advances the policy agenda of the Biden-Harris Administration and communicates the positive impacts of these critical policies to the American people. HERE you will find a copy of the Black Engagement Newsletter, which includes the latest talking points, news, and fact sheets to highlight Black organizations and leaders who are helping us amplify the important work of the Biden-Harris Administration.



BLACK CENSUS



Black people deserve to be listened to, not spoken about or spoken for. That's why Black Futures Lab has launched the Black Census Project, the largest national survey of Black people conducted in the United States in 157 years! For far too long, Black communities have been left out of the conversation. We're taking the Black Census everywhere Black people get left behind - rural and urban and suburban, U.S.-born and immigrant, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ, cisgender and gender non-conforming, disabled, young and seasoned, and more - we're looking for you! The data gathered from the Black Census is anonymous and will be used to inform public policies and identify priority issues that represent Black communities. These priorities will help us make decisions about who we show up for at the polls and what we demand from them - which is why your voice has never been more important. CLICK HERE to take the Black Census.

4th OF JULY



TAX RELIEF

The Legislature recently approved several tax relief holidays to help save you some money.



VOLUNTEER WITH US



With the many changes to Florida Election laws. We need help spreading the word to our community. Please CLICK HERE to explore volunteer opportunities to keep our community informed.

NEWS CORNER

  • 200-plus new Florida laws kick in on Saturday

  • Overturning affirmative action will change the college application process

  • Florida Supreme Court rebuffs ex-Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s reinstatement bid

  • NAACP St. Petersburg hosts legislative recap, discusses future plans

  • Governor DeSantis signs bill to defund DEI programs at Florida public colleges

  • Organizations sue Florida over new voter registration law

  • DeSantis cuts money for Black history, gun violence prevention from budget

  • DeSantis’ budget vetoes include projects from GOP lawmakers who didn’t endorse him

  • Supreme Court Rejects Voting Map That Diluted Black Voters’ Power

  • Trump pleads not guilty in historic federal indictment

  • Children of Black Florida mother who was killed after knocking on neighbor’s door consumed with guilt over her death

  • What You Need To Know About Florida’s New Voting Law And The Potential Damage To Black Voters

  • Sine Die 2023: Gov. DeSantis-driven Session ends with GOP wins, Democratic outrage

  • Florida Legislature's tough-edged session ends with budget, tax breaks and cultural scars

  • Florida lawmakers pass $117B budget. Here’s what it covers

  • 10 big issues from Florida’s 2023 legislative session

  • Five takeaways from Florida’s crucial 2023 legislative session

RESOURCES

  • TRACK BILLS - Did you know that you can get alerts on bills? Learn more and sign up to track bills here for the House and here for the Senate.

  • To watch full coverage of legislative session including committee meetings and floor debates, visit https://thefloridachannel.org/.

  • To learn more about the Florida Senate, find your Senator, and locate senate bills, please visit www.flsenate.gov.

  • To learn more about the Florida House of Representatives, find your representative and locate house bills, please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

  • Remember to visit your county’s Supervisor of Elections office to find what district you live in.

  • Legislative Advocacy Folder

STAY SOCIAL

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  • Like Equal Ground on Facebook

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  • Follow Equal Ground on Twitter @EqualGroundFL

  • Be sure you are subscribed to our newsletter HERE

Copyright © *2021* Equal Ground Action Fund, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is: 424 E. Central Blvd - Unit 650 Orlando, FL 32801

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