State Legislative Liaison Report by Kevin Byrne (10/17/17)
As the calendar year winds down, the 2017- 2018 Legislative session in Tallahassee is just beginning. Because 2018 is an election year, the committee weeks and session schedule are moved up this year. The interim committee meeting schedule called for meetings the weeks of September 11-15, October 9-13, October 23-27, and November 6-10, November 13-17, and December 4-8th. The regular session will convene on January 9th, 2018 and is scheduled to conclude March 9th.
Accordingly, this past week I made my first trip up to Tallahassee to discuss the upcoming Working Family Lobby Corps program. One of the major issues we will be dealing with is a proposed corporate tax cut of 200 MILLION DOLLARS. Ask yourself…… With that loss of revenue, where do you think our legislature will make cuts? Will it be in teacher salaries? Pensions for our police or teachers covered by the FRS? ( Florida Retirement System ) . Will it be in benefits to state workers? Tuition assistance for college students? Programs that help the economically disadvantaged? Granted, these are not specifically letter carrier issues, but we LIVE in these communities so they affect us all. It is for this reason that unions from around the state attend the Working Family Lobby Corps each year making sure our representatives know how these issues affect us in our communities back home. I spoke at length with Rich Templin ( Legislative and Political Director) and Phyllis Garret ( Legislative and Political Coordinator) about these issues as well as others.
Since the language was changed to “Vote by Mail” from “Absentee ballot”, we saw an increase in mailed ballots of almost 900,000 votes between 2014 and 2016 ! Thank you once again to all that helped make that happen! This year we are going to work on increasing that number by trying to involve our county tax collectors. If they can provide Vote by Mail information or applications along with the registration notices that they mail out we should see a higher participation rate. We will also be trying to see if we can make Vote by Mail applications available at Department of Motor Vehicle locations.
As letter carriers, delivering our routes after natural disasters such as recent hurricane IRMA, our presence in the community is often the first sign of things returning to normal. Often we return before power is even restored. Witnessing the widespread use of portable generators and reading of carbon monoxide deaths around the state, I provided public testimony at the Select Committee on Hurricane Preparedness on October 12th to urge our legislators to look at ways to link the sale or purchase of portable generators with the sale or purchase of carbon monoxide detectors. Too often generators are used improperly resulting in deaths. The names in the paper are more than just names. They are elderly, they are children, they are our neighbors. They are family members. And they are our customers. Let us continue to use our influence as vital members of our communities to help save lives.
I look forward to working with you as NALC members in Tallahassee this year and to working with the AFL-CIO to achieve improvements for the lives of all working families in Florida. And as always, I continue to monitor and share information regarding legislative issues occurring in Washington.
Kevin J Byrne
State Legislative Liaison, FSALC
256 SE Todd Avenue, Port St. Lucie, FL 34983-3137
cell phone 772-979-5899