State Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield Minute 01/02/2022

Good Morning!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and happy celebration ringing in the new year. If you are still deciding on your New Year’s resolution, please give some thought to joining a mentorship program. National Mentoring Month is a campaign held each January to promote youth mentoring in the United States. We have several local programs that are in need of mentors such as Boys & Girls Club, Take Stock in Children, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Investing in children today creates better leaders for tomorrow, and has an immeasurably positive impact in the lives of individual youths.
 
I consider it a great honor to represent District 17. Please share this link with your friends and family so they too can sign up for the Mayfield Minute.
 
If you or someone you know needs my assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My staff and I are here to serve you!

Statewide Updates

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis Brings Awareness to Christmas Tree Fire Hazard
 
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is encouraging Floridians to make sure their live Christmas trees are disposed of quickly after the holidays. Leaving a tree up past December greatly increases the chances of a fire incident, as nearly 30 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January.
CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said, “While it may be tempting to leave the Christmas tree up longer this year, it is extremely important to take down the tree quickly to prevent a fire-related tragedy. Dry Christmas trees pose a serious fire hazard and properly disposing of the tree can ensure your family and property remain safe.”
Four Tips for Holiday Decoration Disposal & Storage:
 
  • Check for local disposal programs. Many communities offer a Christmas tree recycling program and have specific drop off locations or procedures for disposal. You may be able to leave it at the curb at your typical yard waste or bulk collection day. It’s best to check with your local authorities for details.
  • Do not store your tree in the home or garage. A dry tree can pose a serious fire risk when left in a garage or car port. Do not place your tree against the home before disposal.
  • Use caution when burning a tree. Do not burn your Christmas tree without checking with your local community for their open burn regulations. As with any fire, always keep a fire extinguisher close.
  • Check lights and decorations before storing. As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. This can save you from accidentally creating electrical hazards for next year.
 
 
Reflections of 2021 
 
2021 was a year that was full opportunities, challenges, and successes. I am proud to highlight some of the great work that we accomplished in our state this past year.
 
First Lady Casey DeSantis and DCF announced a $12 million procurement to support the mental health needs of first responders, which will expand peer-to-peer mental health services.
 
DBPR implemented and made permanent certain alcohol sales methods, commonly referenced as alcohol-to-go, that were similar to measures implemented by emergency orders of Governor DeSantis during Florida’s state of emergency related to COVID-19. Senate Bill 148 authorized restaurants, or vendors of alcoholic beverages also holding a public food service license, to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages prepared by the vendor in sealed containers.
 
DBPR’s Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes collaborated with The Florida Bar in a new partnership, the Florida Condo Education Initiative, to support expanded educational opportunities regarding the rights and responsibilities of condominium associations and their members. The Division’s collaborative efforts generated increased attendance and participation in educational offerings.
 
More than 123,000 individuals and families were provided assistance to remain safely in their homes following the COVID-19 pandemic through the Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida program, which distributed over $628 million in emergency funding.
 
Department of Corrections created the Roadmap to Restoration Initiative, which provides an organized and streamlined transition from prison to community while engaging faith-based networks and other community resources critical to rehabilitation and restoration.
 
As of December 2021, DEO assisted more than 2.4 million claimants with more than $31.8 billion in benefits throughout 2021. Reemployment Assistance provides temporary wage replacement benefits to eligible individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own to assist in the process of becoming reemployed. Throughout 2021, DEO has been dedicated to paying Floridians the Reemployment Assistance benefits they are eligible for as quickly as possible.
 
Governor DeSantis signed the Parent’s Bill of Rights into law. This legislation enumerates parental rights with respect to their children’s education, health care, and criminal justice. The bill prohibits the state, its political subdivisions, any other governmental entities and any other institutions from infringing upon the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her minor child. School districts must also adopt notification procedures for specific parental rights.
 
Governor DeSantis was joined by Florida Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson to sign legislation that will protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and protect parents’ rights to make healthcare decisions for students. The bills were passed through a Special Session of the Florida Legislature and became effective upon the Governor’s signature. The legislation signed is the strongest pro-freedom, anti-mandate action taken by any state in the nation.
 
Florida continues to invest in our teachers by funding $765 million in teachers salaries. These investments include $550 million to continue increasing teacher minimum salaries and $215 million to provide all of Florida’s eligible public school principals and teachers with $1,000 disaster relief payments.
 
2021 reaffirmed the critical role Florida plays in commercial space travel and exploration. This year alone, Florida hosted 23 licensed commercial launches from the Space Coast. Florida also continues to diversify its capabilities beyond rockets and launches. Terran Orbital brought its micro-satellite manufacturing headquarters to central Florida and Boeing further expanded its operations at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville. Space Florida also bolstered the state’s economic development through aerospace development. The Board of Directors were instrumental in finalizing deals with six companies, bringing $394 million in funding and investments to Florida with an anticipated 2,369 new jobs with an average annual wage of $73,000.
 
Several rules necessary for implementation of SB 712 “Clean Waterways Act” became effective in 2021. Florida’s Clean Waterways Act is landmark legislation that carries a wide range of water quality protection provisions aimed at minimizing the impact of known sources of nutrient pollution, realigning the state’s resources to enhance protection of the state’s environment and strengthen regulatory requirements.
 
In line with our SB 712 “Clean Waterways Act” initiative, the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget continues to provide funding in the following areas:
  • $116 million for wastewater grants in areas with restoration plans, including the Indian River Lagoon.
  • $50 million for Lake Okeechobee watershed restoration project.
  • $50 million for springs restoration.
  • $10.8 million to address and protect water bodies from the risk of blue-green algal blooms.
 
The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, Senate Bill 976, directed DEP to encourage and promote investments in areas that protect and enhance the Florida Wildlife Corridor through the Florida Forever program. The Wildlife Corridor builds on and continues the decades of work by numerous scientists and conservation organizations that recognize corridors as a critical way to address habitat loss and fragmentation across Florida.
 
Florida’s AAA bond rating was reaffirmed by all three top credit rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global. The S&P report finds that Florida is in a superior position compared to the nation as a whole.
 
FWC’s Boating and Waterways section saw a nearly 50% increase this year in derelict vessel removals due to increased funding and participation from local governments in the Derelict Vessel Removal Grant Program.
 
In 2021, FDVA Veterans’ Claims Examiners assisted more than 250,000 Veterans in providing information and counsel on earned services, benefits and support. In addition, claims examiners have ‎processed nearly 29,000 new claims on behalf of Florida Veterans, and helped recover more than $180 million in retroactive benefits for Florida Veterans and their families.
 
For 24-hour counsel, call the National Veteran Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans in Florida, call the Florida Veterans Support Line at 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 2-1-1.

Constituent of the Week

It is with heavy hearts that we remember the life of Madison Merritt, a 24 year old Police Officer with the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department who tragically passed on Monday in a motorcycle accident.
 
Madison was a long time member of the Brevard community, attending Merritt Island High School. After graduation, she went on to earn a bachelors degree in Criminology from the University of South Florida. Officer Merritt also attended the Eastern Florida State College Police Academy, where she pursued her officer training education. While attending the police academy, Madison served as a community service officer in 2020. Upon graduation from the police academy in February of 2021, Officer Merritt was hired by Indian Harbour Beach Police Department.
 
In her time working with the police department, Officer Merritt built a phenomenal reputation with her colleagues and the community members she served. Colleagues reflect on her guidance as a strong role-model to young girls and infectious smile to those around her.
 
Officer Merritt will truly be missed by our community, and we will never forget the sacrifices she made to protect and serve. My heartfelt condolences extend to Madison’s family, friends and brothers and sisters in blue.
 
 A service will be held for Madison at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church on January 4th from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

District 17 Highlights

Port Canaveral Voted Best U.S. Cruise Homeport of 2021
 
Port Canaveral was awarded the 2021 Best Cruise Homeport in the United States for the second time. Port Canaveral received more votes than any other port, including the cruise capital of the world, Port Miami.
 
Port Canaveral is the second busiest in the world, with multi-day embarkations and catering to some of the largest cruise ships from the largest cruise lines in the world. The port opened it’s newest terminal, Terminal 3, to cater to Carnival’s new mega-ship named “Mardi Gras.”
 
 
Funding Available for Indian River Lagoon Projects
 
The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) is seeking water quality improvement projects in five categories for the fiscal year 2023 funding cycle that begins in October 2022. Submittals are due via email by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 7th, 2022.
 
The five categories eligible for funding are: Water Quality Restoration Projects; Habitat Restoration Projects; Community-Based Restoration Projects; Science and Innovation Projects; and Market Research to Inform Community Engagement.
 
Questions regarding these RFPs should be submitted in writing and addressed to Chief Operating Officer Daniel Kolodny at kolodny@irlcouncil.org or info@irlcouncil.org
 
For more information, click here.
 
 
Indian River County Allows Sheriff to Increase Traffic Security Technology
 
On December 14th, Indian River County Commissioners approved a request from Sheriff Eric Flowers to allow his office to access the county’s traffic cameras. The commissioners also approved the use of license plate readers by the Sheriffs Office. Sheriff Flowers stated that using technology to keep the community safe was one of his campaign promises when he ran for sheriff in 2020.
 
County Administrator Brown estimated that it will take up to 12 months for the new installation.

Upcoming Events

Brevard Renaissance Fair
 
The 7th annual Brevard Renaissance Fair kicks off Saturday, January 8th and Sunday, January 9th with Pirate Weekend. The event will take place each weekend in January and the first weekend in February. A Renaissance Fair is a recreation of a Renaissance or Medieval village that is filled with costumed actors, crafts and games to give patrons the illusion that they have stepped back in time. The Fair provides a venue for talented artisans and craftspeople to display and sell a variety of goods, trinkets and wares. Visitors will find one-of-a-kind blacksmithing, pewter jewelry, stone carvings, woodworking, weaving, hand-blown glassware, leather crafts and much more. The event will take place at Wickham Park and is located at 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne, Florida 32935.
 
For more information, click here.

Contact Information

Melbourne Office
900 East Strawbridge Avenue
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 409-2025
 
Tallahassee Office
330 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5017
 
Vero Beach Office
Administration Building B
1801 27th Street
Vero Beach, FL 32960
(772) 226-1970
 
Staff: