TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo gave her first remarks as leader of the chamber, outlining her agenda as Republicans gain a supermajority in the Senate.
“We are here to serve our great state and deliver for the voters who elected us,” Passidomo said. “Senators, let’s do this together.”
A well-known top priority for the new Senate President involves addressing the rising costs of housing in Florida.
“Likely the single most pressing issue facing our state today is the cost of housing which has exponentially grown over the past several years,” she said. “Florida is one of best – if not the best – place to live, work, raise a family or retire. Over the last two years, Americans have fled high tax, lockdown states and moved to the Sunshine State in droves.”
Florida’s appeal has put “intense” pressure on the already overburdened housing market that Passidomo said is facing more pressures from inflation. She elaborated on the need to help stimulate affordable housing for those in the workforce.
“I have been traveling the state all summer and fall, hearing from employers and talking to families about these challenges,” Passidomo said. “And, I am working with stakeholders to develop thoughtful, meaningful policies that can make living in Florida more accessible and more affordable.”
We need to recognize the changing needs as well as the varied demographics of a diverse, mobile and to a certain extent remote workforce. We need affordable rental property for all income levels and family sizes. I want teachers, firefighters, and police officers and, frankly, all Florida workers to be able to live in the communities they serve. I want a young professional who works remotely and can live anywhere to choose Florida because we have housing opportunities close to vibrant communities. I want an elderly couple looking to downsize to have more options.Senate President Kathleen Passidomo
Passidomo also pointed to protecting family values and the need to keep parents in the loop with decisions involving their children. She specifically listed that it was “unacceptable” for parents to be kept in the dark in education, health and sports.
“We have made great strides in recent years to defend and expand parental rights in education,” Passidomo said. “Moving forward, we are going to make sure that any decision that involves a minor allows the parents at the table.”
The impacts of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole are still on the minds of lawmakers as Passidomo said hurricane recovery should remain a priority. She also noted the upcoming special session to address property insurance.
“Next month, the Florida Legislature will convene in a special session to address the challenges still facing our state’s insurance market and ensure residents whose homes are uninhabitable get a break on property taxes. Hurricane recovery is just one of many issues we must tackle in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.
Another one of her goals includes the expansion to connect the Wildlife Corridor to the Florida Trail System.
“So that more people across our state and around the world can experience Old Florida at its finest, so you can bicycle, run, or walk from Naples to Orlando,” the Senate President explained.
“I believe that 50 years from now our children and grandchildren will say that the greatest thing the Florida legislature did in the 2020’s was the creation of the Wildlife Corridor and the preservation of millions of acres of farmland and ranch land for conservation. It will be our Central Park.”
Workforce housing, protecting the environment, and honoring veterans and first responders were some of the issues Passidomo said both Republicans and Democrats could agree on while noting that there will be disagreements.
“I assure you we are going to listen to each other’s concerns and incorporate suggestions to make every bill better,” she explained.
“But at the end of the day, we each have a responsibility to the voters who elected us, and those voters overwhelmingly support the conservative agenda of fiscal responsibility, protecting parents’ rights, honoring the dignity of work, and expanding education opportunities for our students. That will drive our work for the next two years.”
Even though there will be disagreements, Passidomo emphasized the need for senators to “respect each other as equals” and leave the chamber as friends.
During Tuesday’s Organization Session, the Florida Senate elected Sen. Dennis Baxley to serve as the Senate President Pro Tempore.
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