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  • Writer's pictureEqual Ground

November Newsletter


FLORIDA BLACK POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT CALL

On Monday, November 20, 2023 from 7pm - 8:30pm we will host our final Florida Black Political Empowerment Call for 2023. During our time together, you will hear a panel of some of Florida's top policy professionals and political operatives recap Florida’s political landscape in 2023 and provide an outlook of 2024 with legislative session on the horizon.



As always, you can count on this space to serve as an opportunity for you to receive updates about issues impacting Black people in the state of Florida and receive information and tools to help improve our community through collective action. This month's speakers will include, Attorney Pamela Burch-Fort, Natasha Sutherland, Carolina Wassmer, and Tiffany Hughes. 



Please click HERE to RSVP. 



On Tuesday, November 21st we need your help to make sure our community is aware of the changes in our voting laws and is prepared for the 2023-2024 election cycle!Due to a new Florida law regarding mail-in voting, all voters who had a vote-by-mail request on file before the Nov. 2022 midterm elections must file a new request if they wish to vote by mail in upcoming elections. This change in law resulted in over 460,000 Black voters bring removed. Voters will now have to request their mail ballots each general election cycle moving forward. Help us re-enroll Black Floridians for Vote by Mail. CLICK HERE to register. 



TAKE THE LEAD: LEGISLATIVE EDITION


Take the Lead Training series was created to help aspiring and experienced Black leaders expand their civic, civil, and political engagement within their local community and across the state. We believe understanding the fundamental structure of government and how to engage in that process is an essential component to holding our elected leaders accountable and producing the results we need in our community.



This year participants will have an option between two tracks. We will offer an intermediate track that covers the basics of the Florida Legislative Session and an advanced track that will provide tools and insight on how to take your advocacy to the next level when engaging with legislators in meetings.  All attendees will also hear from legislative leaders about what to expect in the upcoming 2024 Legislative Session. Our featured speakers for the evening will be State Sen. Tracie Davis & State Rep. LaVon Bracy-Davis. Click HERE to register. 


This event is being brought to you by Equal Ground Education Fund in partnership with the following organizations: 



Northwest Florida Panhandle Coalition for Civic Engagement, African American Council of Christian Clergy (AACC), Black Voters Matter, Win With Black Women Florida, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Omicron Delta Zeta Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc(Gamma Zeta Lambda Chapter (Tampa Alphas)), Orange County Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, The Gail F. Gardner Social Justice Association, African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, Project 68, Lakeland Alumni( FL) Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., For Our Future, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Florida Statewide Organization,  Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH®). 



If your organization is interested in partnering with us for this event and training your members on more effective ways to engage in the legislative process, please click HERE


COMMITTEE WEEKS

In preparation of this training and the start of Legislative session, we encourage you to follow the legislative process as the Legislature has begun to have committee meetings. Below is the committee schedule. Click HERE to watch meetings during those dates. 


 

House Committee Week 1

September 18th - 22nd, 2023

Senate Committee week 1 

October 9th - 13th, 2023

Joint Committee week 2 

October 16th - 20th, 2023

Joint Committee week 3 

November 6th - 9th, 2023

Joint Committee week 4 

November 13th - 17th, 2023

Joint Committee week 5

December 4th - 7th, 2023

Joint Committee week 6

December 11th - 15th, 2023

Start of 2024 Legislative session

January 9, 2024

End of 2024 Legislative session

March 11, 2024


DAY AT THE CAPITOL REGISTRATION NOW OPEN


Equal Ground and Clergy Day at the Capitol will take place on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 with an opening reception and training on Tuesday, February 6, 2023 in Tallahassee, FL. This will be an opportunity to commune with other community leaders, meet with legislators around important issues in person and participate in other advocacy activities.



If you are interested in attending, please complete the registration form found HERE. After your registration has been approved, you will receive additional details at a later date.  



For all questions please contact our Political Director, Genesis Robinson at Genesis@equal-ground.com


Recap of 2023 Equal Ground Day at the Capitol. 


SPECIAL SESSION


Despite the regularly scheduled session of the Legislature being just 60 days away, today, November 6, 2023 begins the start of a 4 day special session where the legislature will convene to address a limited number of issues. This decision comes on the heels of Gov. Ron DeSantis vowing to assemble the Legislature to addresses the situation in the middle east by supporting legislation that dennoces the attacks against Israel and its citizens and calling for sanctions of any Florida entity that supports Hammas-the group which has taken responsibility for the attacks. The proposed legislation does not call for a cease fire nor condemn the killing of thousands of Palestinians many of them children, who have been killed as a result of Israel's response to the attack.



According to a memo released by Senate leadership,  the complete list of issues that will be addressed during the special session include: 

  • Hurricane relief

  • Insurance

  • Student funding

  • Support for Israel

  • Sanctions against terrorist regimes

  • Security infrastructure to guard against antisemitic violence.


STATE REDISTRICTING TRIAL UPDATE


On Tuesday, October 31st, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals held a public hearing in the case Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute v. Byrd, a challenge against Florida’s congressional map which was unfairly redrawn to diminish Black political power in violation of the Fair Districts Amendment.



In an unprecedented move, the entire district court of appeals heard arguments from plaintiffs and the State of Florida on the legality of the map. Our Political Director represented the organization by attending the hearing in Tallahassee. 



The hearing comes on the heels of a trial court ruling the map unconstitutional this past August after an agreement in the legal challenge was reached. The appeals court has agreed to render a decision by November 22nd. Click HERE to watch replay. 


EQUAL GROUND AT THE WHITE HOUSE


We’re excited to share that Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground and Equal Ground Board Member Jackie Lee will attend the meeting alongside local Florida elected officials and community members. They are expected to meet with Tom Perez, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, among others including members of the newly created White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.


During the discussion, Burney-Clark is expected to share her on-the-ground perspective on how the Biden administration’s investments have uplifted the lives of Black Floridians, in a state that is too often hostile to the community.


 


FLORIDA MUSEUM OF BLACK HISTORY TASKFORCE


On May 11, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law CS/CS/HB 1441 (Chapter 2023-72, Laws of Florida) relating to a Florida Museum of Black History Task Force. The bill created a nine-member task force to provide recommendations for the planning, construction, operation, and administration of a Florida Museum of Black History.THE BILL REQUIRES THE TASK FORCE TO DEVELOP:1. Plans for the location, design, and construction of the museum.2. Recommendations for the operation and administration of the museum.3. A marketing plan to promote the museum.4. A transition plan for the museum to become financially self-sufficient.5. Recommendations for archival and artifact acquisition, preservation, and research; exhibits; and educational materials.THE RECOMMENDATIONS MUST INCLUDE MATERIALS RELATING TO:1. The role of African-American participation in defending and preserving Florida and the United States, including the contributions of the residents of Fort Mose, the Tuskegee Airmen, and all African-American veterans.2. The history of slavery in the state.3. The history of segregation in the state.4. Notable African Americans in the state.5. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, including the founding of Bethune Cookman University.6. The history of historically black colleges and universities in this state.7. The inherent worth and dignity of human life, with a focus on the prevention of genocide.Before July 1, 2024, the task force will submit a report detailing its plans and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. Once this is submitted, the task force will disband.Equal Ground is committed to ensuring this is a genuine act that aims to uplift and celebrate the history of Black people in the state of Florida. However, given the many attacks on Black people and our history and experience in the state of Florida, there is reason to be cautious in our hope.  Chair Thompson underscored this thought during the last meeting, click HERE to view her comments. The next meeting is Monday, November 13, 2023 from 1pm -5pm. 


TEACHER SHORTAGE LEADS TO HIRING CHANGES

The overwhelming majority of Florida school districts have rolled back requirements for substitute teachers in a bid to have enough personnel to cover classes. Not only is the state experiencing a shortage in qualified permanent teachers, but school districts have had a difficult time finding substitute teachers as well. The Pensacola News Journal recently surveyed all 68 public school districts in the state and found most have put new hiring criteria in place that are less stringent than they previously were. As a result, for most districts in Florida, college degree is no longer needed.  



In Florida, public school districts set their requirements for hiring substitute teachers and state law only requires them to have a high school diploma and complete a training program in district policies and procedures addressing school safety and security procedures, educational liability laws, professional responsibilities and ethics. However, many districts had adopted higher standards in their hiring process, making a minimum of an AA degree mandatory.


NEW SECURITY PROTOCOL AFTER TRESPASSING ARREST AT CAPITOL


Legislative leaders announced enhanced security measures at the state Capitol Complex following the arrest of a man impersonating a construction worker on Oct. 17. The man briefly gained access to a restricted construction zone before being arrested for trespassing. Although the man never entered the Capitol building, both chambers plan to implement new security guidelines and offer training in an effort to keep lawmakers and staff safe. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide you updates. Access to the capitol is essential to holding our leaders accountable. 


61% OF U.S. SAYS FLORIDA WILL NEGATIVELY BE IMPACTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE


A Pew Research Center survey found that most Americans believe climate change is causing harm in the U.S., with 63% expecting conditions to worsen in their lifetime. Young adults are more concerned, with 78% foreseeing worsening impacts. While 23% anticipate major sacrifices due to climate change, 48% expect minor ones, and 28% believe they won't need to make any sacrifices.  Additionally, 61% of people think that coastal Florida will become a worse place to live over the next 30 years due to climate change.


ADVOCATING FOR BLACK FARMERS


Last month Equal Ground led a group of advocates to Tallahassee to give public comment during the Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy. During the meeting the Florida Department of Health provided an update on the status of Florida's medical marijuana program.



Black farmers have a long history in Florida, dating back to the period of slavery when they were forced to work on plantations to present day where they own thousands of acres and meet the needs of millions of Americans daily. 



Like in other parts of the United States, Black farmers in Florida have historically faced various forms of discrimination, such as being denied access to loans and agricultural resources. Despite being promised an opportunity to share in this growing industry, Black Farmers have faced significant hurdles to entry with not one of the initial 22 licenses approved to operate a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center in FL going to a Black Farmer.



After legal challenges and advocacy for the state to do the right thing, last session state leaders, specifically Sen. Davis and Sen. Rouson worked to have a provision signed into law that would give those applicants who were previously denied an opportunity to cure their applications and resubmit. This led to two Black Farmers being awarded a license this summer.



Recently the state announced that 22 more licenses are expected to be awarded and we wanted to make sure we play a role in advocating for Black Farmers to be given fair consideration. 



FIGHT FOR ABORTION ACCESS 


Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in opposition to a constitutional amendment that would expressly provide women in the state the right to have an abortion. She is alleging that several terms used in the amendment are not clearly defined and could mislead voters. Floridians Protecting Freedom, an abortion rights organization and the political committee behind the proposal, has gathered over 550,000 valid petition signatures for its effort. To secure a spot on the 2024 ballot, the group must submit at least 891,523 valid signatures by Feb. 1 and obtain approval for the proposed ballot wording from the Supreme Court. The measure reads, "No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient's health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider." The group has until Nov. 10 to file a brief, and the Supreme Court has not yet scheduled arguments. Florida's requirements for changing the state constitution include obtaining signatures from 8% of 2020 voters and securing a 60% approval vote.



This is separate from the lawsuit waiting a decision from the Supreme court that challenges Florida's 15 week abortion ban. Click HERE to read article.  

                             



                                 



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 help. 


LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION MEETINGS


As the Florida Legislature prepares to start the 2024 Legislative session process, each county's legislative members will convene for what is known as legislative delegation meetings. These meetings will take place from now until December and give you an opportunity hear directly from your legislators and pitch any ideas your have for funding or legislation.  CLICK HERE to check if your county has announced their meeting date. 


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.


VOLUNTEER WITH US

With 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


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

Be sure to follow Equal Ground on social media for legislative updates and content you can share.

  • Like Equal Ground on Facebook

  • Follow Equal Ground on Instagram @EqualGroundFL

  • Follow Equal Ground on Twitter @EqualGroundFL

  • Be sure you are subscribed to our newsletter HERE


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