State Senator Debbie Mayfield 01/22/2023

Good Morning!

Last week, the Florida Legislature returned to Tallahassee for week three of seven committee weeks in preparation for the 2023 legislative session which begins on March 7th and concludes on May 5th. Many Senate Committees held hearings including three on which I serve, the Agriculture Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and Banking and Insurance Committee. Below are highlights of several committee meetings:

The Senate Committee on Transportation heard a presentation from the Florida Department of Transportation on the Florida Shared-Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Program. The SUN Trail is a statewide network of paved, multi-use trails intended for bicyclists, pedestrians, and wheelchair accessibility. Initial funding of the multi-use trails came through authorization by the Florida Legislature with measures passed in 2014 and 2015.

The Senate Select Committee on Resiliency heard presentations from local government officials representing communities impacted by recent storms. As part of their long-term recovery, communities are seeking to restore dunes and beaches, and improve storm water management. In the district highlights below, I have included more on how Governor DeSantis is addressing these issues and specific funding for Brevard and Indian River counties.

The Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Securityheard a presentation from Joe Marino, the Executive Director of Veterans Florida, regarding education and employment opportunities for Veterans and programs available toencourage Florida business to hire Veterans. In addition, they discussed their program in assisting Veterans in enhancing their entrepreneurial skills  

The Department of Citrus presented to the Senate Committee on Agriculture the status of our Florida citrus industry. Our citrus industry generates nearly $7 billion in revenueannually, provides over 30,000 jobs, and accounts for 70% of all orange juice produced in the nation. Due to storms and other economic factors, Florida Citrus projects a decline of 50% in production compared to the 2021-2022 season. The industry is mitigating the decline by using the $3 million appropriation the legislature passed last year.

I consider it a great honor to represent District 19. 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 Announced Permanent Protections from COVID Mandates and New Protections for Medical Practitioners’ Free Speech

Last week, Governor DeSantis announced a legislative proposal to make COVID-19 freedoms permanent. The announcement stated that strong pro-freedom and anti-mandate actions will permanently protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, protect parents’ rights, and institute additional protections to prevent discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccine status.

“These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners,” said Governor DeSantis.

The proposal includes the permanent prohibition of mandates that are continuously proven ineffective, including:

  • COVID-19 vaccine passports
  • Permanently prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements in schools and businesses
  • Permanently prohibiting employers from hiring or firing based on COVID-19 vaccination

Included in Governor DeSantis’ proposal are first amendment right guarantees for medical professionals, ensuring no one loses their job or medical license for voicing their professional opinions in Florida. The legislation will also safeguard medical professionals from discrimination based on their personal religious views.

Florida Launches Black History Month Student and Educator Contests

 Student essay contest winners will receive a 2-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation

The Florida Department of Education and Volunteer Florida announced the “2023 Celebrating the Achievements of African American Floridians” annual student art and essay contests. 

“African Americans have a long and proud history in our great state of Florida, and Black History Month is the perfect occasion to celebrate their many achievements,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Learning about African American achievements is central to learning about Florida and America itself. I have no doubt that this year’s art and essay contest submissions will be outstanding.”

To learn more about the student participation criteria for the art and essay contests, or to nominate a favorite educator, please click here.

Governor DeSantis Further Prohibits Woke ESG Considerations from State Investments

Governor DeSantis and the State Board of Administration (SBA) formally approved measures to protect Florida’s investments from ‘woke’ environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). 

The announcement updates the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan to ensure that all state investment decisions are based solely on the highest rate of return for all stakeholders.  

“Corporations across America continue to inject an ideological agenda through our economy rather than through the ballot box,” said Governor DeSantis. “Today’s actions reinforce that ESG considerations will not be tolerated here in Florida, and I look forward to extending these protections during this legislative session.”

The announcement also stated that ESG is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life. SBA fund managers will be charged with only considering maximizing the return on investment for Florida consumers and retirees. 

For more information on ESG and Florida’s efforts to put people before corporate power, click here.

Agency Highlight

Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation

The Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation is a state agency that was created at the direction of the Florida Legislature to support the Clerks of Court charged with providing critical county services to residents. The CCOC provides the professional budget support and workload performance standards to ensure fair and equitable allocation of available resources needed to sustain court operations.

The responsibilities of the CCOC Corporation include:

  • Recommending to the Legislature the amount of court-related service charges, fines, fees and costs to ensure reasonable and adequate funding of the Clerk of Court;
  • Development of workload measures and performance standards;
  • Reviewing, certifying and approving budgets for all 67 Clerks of the Circuit Court (the Clerks);
  • Developing and conducting clerk education programs;
  • Preparing and submitting an annual report to the Governor and Legislature detailing the budget development and expenditure of Clerks.

Duties and responsibilities of the County Clerk of Court include:

  • The Clerk of Court is responsible for maintaining court records with the utmost care and security. These court records include criminal felony and misdemeanor cases, civil, family, probate and small claims proceedings, juvenile cases, and traffic citations.
  • Serving as the official recorder and custodian of all documents placed in the County’s Official Records.
  • The Clerk issues marriage licenses, can perform marriage ceremonies, issues jury summons, and distributes payment of fees to jurors.
  • As Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk attends all Board meetings, records the proceedings and maintains minutes of each meeting.
  • The Clerk serves as the chief financial officer of the county ensuring all expenditures are authorized by law.
  • The Clerk’s office can receive and process passport applications.

For more information on the State’s CCOC, click here

To contact the Indian River County Clerk of Court, visit here and for Brevard County, visit here

Constituents of the Week

Betty Jo Green and Douglas Wilford Parks

Our Constituents of the Week are Betty Jo Green and Douglas Wilford Park. Betty Jo and Douglas have been married for over 22 years, and we celebrate them this week as Betty Jo recently entered into retirement, and Douglas just celebrated his 90th birthday on January 19th.

Douglas was born in Canada on January 19, 1933. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States and served in the US Army for two years during the Korean War. He earned his college degree in Engineering from the University of Minnesota. After college he began his 30-year career at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, and on the Space Coast, where he designed missiles for submarine vessels. 

Betty Jo and Douglas married in 2001 and together they remain active in military causes. Betty Jo founded, and has led, the local chapter of Wreaths Across America for the past seven years. Wreaths Across America is a national organization whose mission is “To Remember, Honor, and Teach” by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, and more than 3,700 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. Betty Jo coordinated her final Wreaths Across America event this past December which drew nearly one thousand supporters at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.  

Last summer, Betty Jo was named Secretary of the local chapter of the Rolling Thunder Veterans organization. Rolling Thunder’s major function is to educate the public about American Prisoners of War (POWs) who were left behind, and protect future Veterans from becoming Missing in Action (MIAs). Betty Jo has also served as Chapter Chair of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Douglas and Betty Jo reside in Satellite Beach, and while retired, they remain busy with their beautiful blended family comprised of six adult children, 12 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. 

District 19 is grateful for their patriotism and commitment to the Veterans community which they have been so proud to serve.  

District Highlights

Indian River County and Brevard County Among 16 Florida Counties to Receive State Funding for Beach Restoration

Last week, Governor DeSantis announced the distribution of $100 million that legislators approved in December for beach-restoration projects after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole caused widespread erosion. Indian River County will receive $4 million and Brevard County will receive $3.2 million.

“We’ve worked really hard to help all of those communities with respect to Hurricane Ian,” DeSantis said. “But then what we had, November, just right after the election, I was down here looking at the damage from Hurricane Nicole. Not a Category 4 or 5 storm, but coming on the heels of Hurricane Ian, (it) did a lot of damage, particularly on our coastlines.”

Ian made landfall September 28th in Southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm and crossed the state. Nicole made landfall November 10th near Vero Beach as a Category 1 storm.

Further funding will be considered during the 2023 Legislative Session.

Space Florida Announces 6,000 Jobs Added in 2022, More to Come in 2023

OneWeb Satellites, Northrop Grumman, SIMCOM Aviation, and SpaceX are just a few of the companies growing on Florida’s Space Coast. According to Space Florida, 2022 was a successful year including the addition of approximately 6,000 new space-related jobs. 

“We expect in the next five years to be making an economic impact on average of over a billion dollars a year to the state’s economy,” said Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency. 

Dibello went on to say that 150 space-related industry projects are in progress and 2023 should see even more job growth. Approximately 40% of the space industry-related job and economic growth occurred in Brevard County assisting recovery from the 2010 cancellation of the Space Shuttle program.  

The new projects include supply chain logistics, software, artificial intelligence, manufacturing and robotics, in addition to new innovations in aerospace, engineering, and aviation. The future of the space industry on the Space Coast continues to excel as public-private partnerships attract companies looking to support civilian and human spaceflight, and space tourism.

Visit Space Florida here to learn more.

Breeze Airways to Begin Vero Beach Flights to the Northeast on February 2nd

Utah-based Breeze Airways, founded in 2021, announced their plans to begin flights from Vero Beach with service to and from Norfolk, Virginia; Hartford, Connecticut; and Westchester, New York. They anticipate their service to begin on February 2nd.

Passenger capacity is the key difference between Breeze Airways and other regional carriers that have operated out of Vero Beach Regional Airport in the past. Breeze Airways planes accommodate 126 passengers, nearly twice the 60 passenger capacity of Elite Airways flights. Elite Airways discontinued service to and from Vero Beach a year ago. 

To book a flight on the new Breeze Airways, click here.     

Upcoming Events

Brevard Professional Firefighters to Hold Annual Chili Cook Off

The 7th Annual Brevard County Professional Firefighters Chili Cook Off event will take place on Saturday, January 28th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Cocoa Riverfront Park Amphitheater (401 Riveredge Boulevard in Cocoa). The ‘All You Can Eat’ chili bracelet is $10.00.

This seven-year tradition pits firefighters and fire stations throughout Brevard County against each other to win the coveted Chili Cook Off competition. Proceeds benefit the Brevard County Firefighter Benevolent Association.

To learn more about the 7th Annual Chili Cook Off event, click here.

Brevard County Fire Rescue (BCFR) services include Fire, Emergency Medical Services, Ocean Rescue, Special Operations, and 911 Dispatch across 33 stations throughout its total response area which comprises more than 1,000 square miles.

To learn more about BCFR, click here.

FDOT to Hold Public Hearings on SR 401 Bridges

FDOT will hold two public hearings regarding the project plans for the SR 401 bridges from SR 528 to the north of the Canaveral Barge Canal in Brevard County.

FDOT’s proposed study is to evaluate the three existing SR 401 bridges over the Canaveral Barge Canal and to develop alternatives for bridge replacement while minimizing potential impacts of the natural and human environments.

Below are two options to participate:

Virtually: Tuesday, January 31st at 5:30 p.m.

To register online, click here.

In Person: Wednesday, February 1st at 5:30 p.m.

Location: Cape Canaveral Port Authority, 445 Challenger Rd., Cape Canaveral

To view all materials in advance of the virtual and in-person meetings, visit here.

Annual Pioneer Day Festival Celebrates Merritt Island’s History

The 11th Annual Pioneer Day will be held on Saturday, February 11th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church located at 5555 North Tropical Trail, North Merritt Island and the Sams House at Pine Island located at 6195 North Tropical Trail, North Merritt Island. A free shuttle service is provided for transportation to and from both venues which are approximately one mile apart.

The Pioneer Parade at Sams House at Pine Island at 11:00 a.m. with historic re-enactors celebrating the early settlers of Merritt Island. Family-friendly activities and events include historic encampments, educational exhibits, guided historic cemetery tours, live music, crafts and farmer’s market vendors, guided trail hikes, a petting farm, and food trucks.

Pioneer Day is held annually near the birthday of John Sams, a renowned citrus farmer and the first Superintendent of Brevard County Schools. Mr. Sams is also recognized as having built the oldest, still-standing home in Brevard County dating back to 1875.

For more information, please call Sams House at (321) 449-4720 or click here.

Brightline 110 MPH Test Runs Expected Next Month in Brevard

Brightline announced that the company will launch a series of 110-mph test runs in the Rockledge-Cocoa area in late February and early March.

The path for the high speed tests will run from South Florida to Orlando and will turn west in Cocoa and follow the State Road 528 corridor.

In Melbourne, crews will close the Lake Washington Road rail crossing on February 10th from Saturday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to install upgrades.

  • Eastbound traffic will be detoured north on Stewart Road and east on Parkway Drive to reach U.S. 1.
  • Westbound traffic will be directed from U.S. 1 to head west on Parkway Drive and turn south on Stewart Road to reach Lake Washington Road.

Brightline will also close the Eau Gallie Boulevard rail crossing from February 17th at 7:00 a.m. to February 27th at 7:00 p.m.

  • Eastbound motorists will be detoured south on Apollo Boulevard and east on Sarno Road to access U.S. 1
  • Westbound motorists will be directed south on U.S. 1 to Sarno Road, where they will head west before turning north on Apollo Boulevard to reach Eau Gallie Boulevard.

For more information on railroad construction and traffic disruptions, click 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


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