State Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield Minute 10/23/2022

Good Morning!

Halloween is Eight Days Away…Celebrate Safely

The United States celebrates Halloween more than any other nation worldwide. Economists estimate $10.6 billion will be spent by Americans on Halloween in 2022.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Attorney General’s office have provided some cautionary tips to ensure that Halloween remains safe for all. Here are just a few:

  • Know where your children are, who they are with, how to contact them, and how they can contact you. 
  • Set clear limits on where your children can trick-or-treat, what time they should check in or return home.
  • Ensure their costumes have reflective material and their vision is not encumbered by a mask.
  • Make sure they know their address and telephone number, how to call 911, and firmly remind them to never enter any home. 
  • Be very cautious of new malicious attempts to disguise the deadly Fentanyl drug as common candies like Skittles, Nerds, or Whoppers.
  • Inspect your children’s candy before they eat it.

For more FDLE tips, click here and for Attorney General Ashley Moody’s reminder on Fentanyl scams targeting children and teens, click here.   

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 Update

Governor DeSantis Announces Florida’s Unemployment Rate Drop to 2.5 Percent, Second Lowest in State History

 

Florida had the Second Fastest GDP Growth Among All States, While the National GDP Declined for Two Consecutive Quarters 

“Florida’s economy continues to outpace the national average Floridians are finding jobs, and our state’s businesses are thriving. As we continue to support Southwest Florida communities in their recovery from Hurricane Ian, a resilient economy is paramount,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Governor DeSantis went on to say, “With inflation still surging due to federal policies and with Southwest Florida recovering from Hurricane Ian, Florida has maintained sound fiscal and economic policies that will help us mitigate these challenges.”  

“Leadership matters – Florida’s economy is strong, resilient, and positioned for continued success because of Governor DeSantis’ decisive leadership,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle.

Secretary Eagle continued to say, “Florida didn’t get lucky. Instead of locking people down during the pandemic, Governor DeSantis lifted people up, and we are seeing the impacts of this direction nationally. Now in Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian, the unprecedented and dedicated response to recovery spearheaded by the Governor and First Lady sends a strong message to the region that Florida has your back, and we will rebuild stronger than before.”

Click here for Governor DeSantis’ full news release on this historic unemployment rate announcement. 

Also last week, Governor DeSantis was endorsed by four Florida Job Creation organizations.

  • National Federation of Independent Business Florida PAC
  • Florida Trucking Association PAC
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida
  • Florida Home Builders Association
 
1st Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Florida is 1st in Nation to Reframe and Rethink the Way Mental Health Is Taught in Schools

Last week the State Board of Education unanimously approved First Lady Casey DeSantis’ proposal announcing a groundbreaking shift in how Florida supports the health and wellbeing of our students.

“With this approval, Florida is cementing its first in the nation approach to reframe and rethink the way mental health is taught in schools, shifting from the traditional, stigma-laden mental health education model to an empowering new model based on resiliency. Florida is no longer teaching to a disorder — Florida is teaching kids the skills to learn how to overcome challenges,” said First Lady DeSantis. 

Initiative resources and required instruction on this topic are currently being developed and will include:

  • Updated character standards in the form of resiliency standards with a focus on volunteerism, problem solving, critical thinking, compassion, and grit;
  • A million-dollar outreach effort to help inform students, parents, and teachers of resiliency support;
  • Free curriculum available to educators and parents that ties back to the foundational resiliency skills; and
  • Tools created specifically for parents interested in learning what resources are available to help their children.

“With our resiliency initiative, our goal is to equip students with the skills that will help them learn to persevere through life’s inevitable challenges. We are taking a negative and turning it into a positive by empowering kids to strive to overcome challenges while recognizing and celebrating the success in doing so. I am honored to partner with the State Board of Education on changing Florida’s traditional focus on mental health to one on resilience and that incentivizes public service. In Florida, we are empowering students to have hope. No problem is insurmountable — all you need is a little help to become resilient,” First Lady DeSantis added.

 

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis Introduces Legislation to “Put the Brakes” on Attempts at Post-Storm Insurance Fraud

Chief Financial Officer Patronis is calling for a major overhaul in the way insurance is handled to prevent fraud in the wake of Hurricane Ian. His planned legislation in the upcoming session will address everything from bad public adjusters to helping consumers understand exactly what they’re signing in a post-storm environment. 

The announcement comes as new insurance claims come in every day in the wake of Hurricane Ian. 

“Public adjusters come into the market and there’s good public adjusters and there’s bad public adjusters,” Patronis said.

His plan will hopefully weed out bad public adjusters by reducing the amount they’re entitled to immediately following a storm by creating a schedule of how Florida residents’ payments will be laid out.

To read the announcement in full, click here

 Agency Highlight

 

Department of Environmental Protection

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water, and land. The vision of DEP is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources, and enhance its ecosystems.

The DEP is led by Secretary Shawn Hamilton who has served over 20 years in the public and private sectors including 15 years of experience at DEP.  He began his career with DEP in 2007 as an ombudsman and public affairs manager in the Northwest Florida District Office. Mr. Hamilton then spent the next 15 years in district director roles, interim deputy secretary roles, and ultimately he was appointed as Secretary of DEP in 2021. To learn more about Secretary Hamilton, click here.

DEP employs over 2,900 full-time and 1,300 temporary employees to protect Florida’s water and natural resources. The agency is divided into three primary areas:  

  • Land and Recreation: These programs are designed to acquire and protect lands for preservation and recreation. DEP oversees 175 state parks and trails and more than 12 million acres of public lands and 4 million acres of coastal uplands and submerged lands.
  • Regulatory: These programs safeguard natural resources by overseeing permitting and compliance activities that protect air and water quality, and manage waste cleanups.
  • Ecosystems Restoration: These programs protect and improve water quality and aquatic resources in Florida’s iconic Everglades, natural springs, and world-renowned coastal resources. DEP works with communities, local governments and other agencies to protect and restore water quality and supply, and to provide funding assistance for water restoration and infrastructure projects, and protection of Florida’s submerged lands and coastal areas.

DEP assists residents and businesses in times of storm recovery and in navigating the process of permitting, inspections, and surveying environmental concerns as homeowners and business owners seek to expand or redevelop their personal or commercial property.   

To learn more about the vast services provided by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, visit their comprehensive “How Do I” website for answers for you most basic and more complex questions.   

Constituent of the Week

 
Apryle Bigham Nickson

Our Constituent of the Week is Apryle Bigham Nickson. Mrs. Nickson is recognized as one of Brevard County’s and Cocoa High School’s best female swimmers in history.

Apryle was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2020 recognizing her accomplishments in the sport of swimming and as Brevard County’s first female prep athlete to be named an All American in any sport.  

In the 1970’s, She was a member of the Cocoa High School women’s swim team where she earned numerous awards including Most Valuable Swimmer, three-time All-Cape Coast Conference athlete, and two-time winner of the All-State title in Women’s Swimming.    

She began her ascension in the sport of women’s swimming before the Title IX law existed. Before Title IX, female athletes were not considered for collegiate scholarships and championship competitions for women’s athletic teams were mostly non-existent. Funding for women’s sports lagged far behind men’s sports, if funded at all. Apryle remained un-phased, and she powered through to become a top athlete in her sport.

To this day, many of her conference swimming records in the 50 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly remain unbeaten. After high school, Apryle swam for Brevard Junior College before it became Brevard Community College, and now Eastern Florida State College. She was named the Most Valuable Swimmer in her freshman year. She later transferred to the University of Central Florida where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Education.

After serving as an assistant high school coach, she became the first female to coach boys and girls swimming in Orange County at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. The University of Central Florida also recognized Apryle with the “Physical Educator of the Year” award. 

Her work as an Adaptive Physical Education Teacher helping swimmers with mental and physical disabilities is equally admirable. She became a Special Olympics aquatics coach and served more than 20 years as the team’s head coach.

During her Special Olympics coaching career, numerous swimmers under her guidance won events and championships from district to international levels. 

In 2017, she retired from teaching and high school coaching but not from the Special Olympics. She and her daughter Natalie still remain involved with the Special Olympics open water swimming program.

District 17 is proud to reflect on Apryle Bigham Nickson’s record breaking history in the sport of women’s swimming in high school and college, her career as a coach, and her true compassion to teach swimming to phenomenal special needs athletes.  

District Highlights

 

Governor DeSantis Awarded Millions in Additional Funding to 48 Schools in District 17

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced more than $200 million in awards through the School Recognition Program. Forty-eight District 17 schools are among the 1,400 schools across the state which demonstrated student growth and teaching excellence in the 2021-22 school year. To be eligible, schools must have received a school grade of “A” or improve at least one letter grade from the prior year.

“I was glad to award more than $200 million to 1,400 schools that demonstrated student growth and teaching excellence over the past year,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These awards can be used to give our hard-working teachers bonuses, and are particularly important in Southwest Florida where they will go a long way toward helping our teachers in the area get back on their feet.”

Eleven schools in Indian River County received a combined total of $1,150,860. In Brevard County 37 schools were awarded a combined total of $4,399,911.

Schools can use the funding for a variety of provisions, including:

  • Bonuses to the faculty and staff
  • Educational equipment and materials
  • Temporary personnel for the school to assist in maintaining and improving student performance
  • School staff and the school advisory council must decide jointly on how to use the financial award

For more information about the School Recognition Program, click here.

 
SpaceX 100th Launch from Cape Canaveral

SpaceX celebrated its 100th launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday after launching their Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at 10:50 a.m. with 54 more additions to the company’s growing internet constellation.

Falcon 9′s debut was 12 years ago from SLC 40 at what was then Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, taking off on June 4, 2010, with a version of its in-development Dragon capsule.

For more information about SpaceX’s 100th launch, click here.

Space Coast launch activities continue to soar. Space enthusiasts are anticipating the “Big Show” scheduled for Friday, October 28th at 9:56 a.m. with the three-core Falcon Heavy launch.  The triple-booster rocket will fly SpaceX for the Space Force’s USSF-44 mission and then land its two side boosters at the Cape’s Landing Zones 1 and 2. The center booster will be expended. 

For more information on the scheduled October 28th event, click here

 

Breeze Airways Confirms New Flights from Vero Beach Beginning February 2, 2023

Utah-based Breeze Airways plans to begin passenger airline service to Vero Beach Regional Airport (VBRA) in February 2023. This announcement comes shortly after VBRA was recently ranked the #1 general aviation airport in the state by the Florida Department of Transportation.

“It could be a good thing for snowbirds, and how it serves the needs of the citizens of Vero,” said Mayor Robbie Brackett. “And the whole county, for that matter.”

Flight routes planned include: 

  • Hartford, Connecticut: Thursdays and Saturdays starting February 2nd, one-way fares beginning at $79.
  • Westchester, New York: Fridays and Mondays starting February 3rd, one-way fares beginning at $79; with a potential third flight to Westchester beginning February 16th.
  • Norfolk, Virginia: Fridays and Mondays starting February 3rd, one-way fares beginning at $89.

More expensive fares come with extras such as more leg room, additional bags and priority boarding.

Breeze Airways planes are slightly larger with a capacity of 137 passengers. VBRA will need to expand its TSA service to accommodate increased passengers. That process is already underway.  

To plan future travel from VBRA to the Northeast, visit here

 

40 Days Remain Until the End of the 2022 Hurricane Season

Tragically residents of Southwest Florida have experienced catastrophic damage to life and property as a result of Hurricane Ian. To a lesser extent, the northern end of Brevard County experienced substantial flood damage, and the county as a whole has reported over $14 million in damages.  

Brevard County has released a new Hurricane Recovery Resource Guide to assist recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian.  The guide can be found here.

Florida’s Department of Emergency Management has also launched a new website to take storm victims through a step-by-step rebuilding process with resources to ease the burden after a weather disaster.

Upcoming Events

 

Halloween Celebrations in Brevard and Indian River Counties

Family Movie and Costume Night Contest:  On Friday, October 28th, the City of Sebastian will host a Halloween costume contest and show the movie “Hocus Pocus” (PG) on an outdoor screen at Riverview Park, US-1 and County Road 512, in the grass field next to the Twin Piers. *Costume contest registration is 5:30 p.m. and the movie begins at 7:00 p.m. Free popcorn and snow cones will be provided. 

Harvest Event: Kids ages 2 to 14 are invited to join the costume contests, games, bounce houses, and more at the Eddie Lee Taylor Community Center, 3316 S. Monroe Street, Melbourne, on Friday, Oct. 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is $4. Call 321-608-7450 or visit melbourneflorida.org

Brevard County Sheriff’s Haunted Jail Trail: The event will be held October 28th and 29th from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Brevard County Jail Complex located at 860 Camp Road in Cocoa. Sheriff Ivey promises this year’s event will be scarier than last year. All proceeds will benefit the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Charity which supports first responders in a time of need and the Sheriff’s Pet Posse, which helps protect homeless pets in our community. 

More information can be found here.

Boo at the Zoo: The “Monsters-themed” event will be held at the Brevard Zoo (8225 North Wickham Road in Melbourne) on October 29th and 30th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Costumes are encouraged. Trick-or-Treating, live performances, photo opportunities, and costumed character meet-and-greets will take place. All special events are free with general zoo admission tickets and for zoo members. Visit brevardzoo.org/special-events/boo-at-the-zoo

LaPorte Farms Fall Festival: The family-friendly event will be at LaPorte Farms, 7700 129th Street, Sebastian, on October 29th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The costume contest begins at 2:00 p.m., activities include train rides, a mechanical bull, pony rides, a Home Depot kid’s workshop, and more. Visit laportefarms.com.  

Trick-or-Treat at the Avenue: Participating merchants at The Avenue Viera, 2261 Town Center Ave., will be passing out candy from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29th. The event is pet friendly and costumes are encouraged. Visit avenueviera.com

Howl-O-Ween Petacular: Bring your pampered pets, dressed in their very best, to Cocoa Village on Saturday, October 29th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Myrt Tharpe Square (Gazebo) in Historic Cocoa Village. The costumed pet promenade begins at 1 p.m. Contest entry fees are a $10 donation per pet in advance and $15 at the event. All pets must be on a leash, or in appropriate carriers, and have current vaccinations and county tags. Call 321-305-4584 for more information. 

Screamland “A Haunt and Horror Experience” Fright at the Museum: The haunted art exhibit, (Eau Gallie Art District at 1463 Highland Avenue in Melbourne), features creations and performances by more than 30 local artists. Events take place weekends through November 5th on Fridays 5:00 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays 12:00 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Discount tickets can be ordered in advance for $20.00 here or at the door for $25.00.  

 

Annual Indian River Lagoon Day Scheduled for November 9th

Indian River Lagoon Day is sponsored by Marine Resources Council and is being held on Saturday, November 9th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Front Street Park, 2210 Front Street in Melbourne. 

The event is packed with family friendly activities: 

  • Local music entertainment
  • “Hook Kids on Fishing” program
  • Free kayaking excursions
  • Rain barrel workshops 
  • Exhibitors include local arts and craft vendors and food trucks

For more information about the Annual Indian River Lagoon Day, click here.

 

Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day for the 2022 Mid-Term Election

It’s time to finalize your plan to exercise your fundamental right to vote for the candidates you believe will best represent your position on the issues that matter to you and your family. 

If you are in Brevard County, you can find your precinct and preview your sample ballot, here.  

In Indian River County, you can find your precinct and preview your sample ballot here.   

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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:

Kelli Lane

Yvette Campbell

Joshua McWilliams