State Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield Minute 02/26/ 2023

Good Morning!

March is Women’s History Month

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the week of March 7th as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 which designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions and since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month” as an acknowledgment of women’s contribution to history, culture and society to make our country a better place to live, work and raise a family.

The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame was created by Florida Statue in 1982 to honor women who, through their lives and effort, made significant contributions to the improvement of women’s lives, and for all Florida citizens. They are pioneers who have broken down barriers, created new opportunities and championed issues to better Florida and its people. These women are immortalized on an honorary wall in the halls of the Florida Capitol. We also have many women who serve in leadership roles in our State and I will be highlighting them during the month of March.

Last week we completed the seventh and final committee week leading up to the 2023 Florida Legislative Session. I want to take a moment to truly thank the constituents of District 19 for taking your time to send emails, share messages of support and of concern, make phone calls, mail letters, and visit the Tallahassee and district offices over the past several weeks. Your informed and proactive advocacy make our communities and our State better and that is greatly appreciated. Pease see below for more highlights from this past week at the State Capitol.

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.

Committee Week Seven Highlights

 Committee week seven was very successful as my staff and I were pleased to welcome many District 19 visitors. Members of the American Cancer Society’s Action Network visited to discuss their legislative priorities which include access to innovative treatments, funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings, and early detection services.

Phil Scarpelli, President and CEO of the Brevard Family Partnership, and several of the amazing foster children they serve joined me at the State Capitol. 

Ms. Karla Radka, President and CEO of Senior Resource Alliance, met with me to share the important resources her organization provides for Brevard County seniors. 

I also had the opportunity to meet with Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, Secretary of the Florida Lottery John Davis, former FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault, and representatives of the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection, and County Health Departments collectively, regarding septic system improvements.

Other highlights of the week in the Florida Senate include:

Advancing Public Safety and Protecting Constitutional Freedoms

Senator Jay Collins presented Senate Bill 150 to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. SB 150 includes comprehensive protections of the Constitutional right of Floridians to carry a firearm. The legislation allows for any individual who is legally permitted to purchase a firearm in Florida to carry that firearm in a concealed manner without a concealed carry license. 

The legislation requires that any individual carrying a concealed weapon possess valid photo identification and present that identification to a law enforcement officer upon request.  SB 150 codifies critical public safety measures intended to keep Florida schools safer. 

The next stop for SB 150 is the Fiscal Policy Committee.

Ensuring Every Florida Student Receives a Quality Education

Senator Corey Simon presented Senate Bill 202 to the Senate Committee on Pre-K – 12 Education. SB 202 establishes universal school choice for all Florida students and allows for educational funding to follow students whose parents or guardians choose to enroll them in public or charter schools, a private school, or a home-based educational environment. This is crucial to ensure that a student’s zip code or school zone does not adversely impact students.

The next stop for SB 202 is the Appropriations Committee on Education.

Comprehensive Affordable Housing Package Heads to Senate Floor

Senator Alexis Calatayud presented Senate Bill 102 in the Senate Committee on Appropriations where it passed with unanimous support. SB 102 addresses the affordable housing crisis by revising the State Housing Strategy, funding both home ownership and rental assistance programs, codifying and expanding the Hometown Hero Program, and creating a “Missing Middle” tax exemption for developments that create affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income families.

The next stop for SB 102 is the Senate Floor.

Expansion of Florida Wildlife Corridor Passes Final Committee Stop

Senator Jason Brodeur presented Senate Bill 106 in the Senate Committee on Appropriations where it passed with unanimous support. SB 106 expands access to Florida’s Wildlife Corridor and heritage small towns by connecting the corridor to Florida’s Greenways and Trails System, SUN Trail Network, and recreational pathways across the state.

The next stop for SB 106 is the Senate floor.

Additional Support for Medicaid Patient Care

Senator Gayle Harrell presented Senate Bill 112 in the Senate Committee on Health Policy where it passed with unanimous support. SB 112 provides the ability for physicians to prescribe the most effective drug to treat serious mental illness for low-income Floridians enrolled in the Medicaid program. The legislation ensures that Floridians have access to critical mental health medications and eliminates a burdensome process that slows treatment outcomes.

The next stop for SB 112 is the Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services.

Standing Up For the 2nd Amendment

Senator Danny Burgess presented Senate Bill 214 to the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance. SB 214 protects the privacy of law-abiding gun owners. This legislation restricts any third party organization from collecting financial data from the purchase of firearms or ammunition.

The next stop for SB 214 is the Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Supporting Our First Responders

Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez presented Senate Bill 314 in the Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability where it passed with unanimous support. SB 314 offers vital mental health counseling to first responders across the state.

The next stop for SB 312 is the Community Affairs Committee. 

Expanding Opportunities for Veterans

Senator Danny Burgess presented Senate Bill 274, co-sponsored by Senator Bryan Avila, in the Senate Committee on Health Policy where it passed with unanimous support. SB 274 allows for military training and education to be applied toward postsecondary credit or career education clock hours, expediting the process in which military combat medics can receive a degree or certification in nursing.

The next stop for SB 312 is the Senate Rules Committee.

Statewide Update

Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Announce Plans for the Proceeds from the Opioid Settlement

Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis recently announced plans for the $205.7 million from the Opioid Settlement Agreement. The Office of Opioid Recovery, within the Department of Children and Families, will be established to oversee treatment and recovery efforts statewide.

Through cross-agency collaboration and community partnerships, Florida will also focus on implementing strategies and expanding prevention programs, including the CORE Network through the Department of Health.

To combat the opioid crisis through educating communities on the dangers of substance abuse, funding will be dedicated to:

  • Establishing the Office of Opioid Recovery – $10.2 Million
  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services – $92.5 Million
  • Developing educational prevention materials – $39.4 Million
  • Expanding the CORE Network – $26.8 Million
  • Expanding recovery and peer support services – $25.3 Million
  • Pioneering an integrated statewide database – $11.3 Million

For view the full press release, click here. To watch the press conference, click here.

Governor DeSantis Announces Legislation to Counteract Biden’s Border Crisis

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass joined Governor DeSantis for the announcement which included an extensive legislative proposal including: increasing penalties for human smuggling, strengthening statutes for the detention of illegal aliens, requiring universal use of E-Verify, enhancing penalties for document falsification, and prohibiting the issuance by local governments of ID cards to people who are not lawfully in the country.  

“With this legislation, Florida is continuing to crack down on the smuggling of illegal aliens, stopping municipalities from issuing ID cards to people here illegally, and ensuring that employers are hiring American citizens or those here legally,” said Governor DeSantis. “Florida is a law and order state, and we won’t turn a blind eye to the dangers of Biden’s Border Crisis. We will continue to take steps to protect Floridians from reckless federal open border policies.”

To see the proposal, click here. To watch the full press conference, click here

Agency Highlight

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

FDLE’s mission is to promote public safety and strengthen domestic security by providing services in partnership with local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies to prevent, investigate, and solve crimes while protecting Florida’s citizens and visitors.

In 1967, the Legislature merged the duties of several different criminal justice organizations to form the Bureau of Law Enforcement with the specific intent to address multi-jurisdictional crimes. Today, 56 years later, that is still the Department’s core focus.

As a result of Florida’s governmental restructuring in 1969, the Bureau became the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or FDLE, the name the agency bears to this day.

In 1996, FDLE transitioned to a regional approach for the delivery of services.

However, when September 11 happened, FDLE changed in fundamental ways, including its core mission when the Department assumed responsibility as the state’s domestic security coordinator.

Additionally, the Department delivers investigative, forensic, and information services to criminal justice partners through six crime laboratories, fourteen field offices, and seven regional operations centers located in Pensacola, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Fort Myers, and Miami.

Over the past three years, FDLE has conducted:

  • 6,890 criminal investigations.
  • Over 44,000 intelligence reports supporting federal, state, and local partners.
  • Investigative services for 252 officer-involved shootings and 317 Department of Corrections injury/death investigations statewide.
  • Issued 956 protective alerts (Amber, Missing Child, Blue, Sliver). This does not include Purple Alerts, which began July 1, 2022.

FDLE is led by Commissioner Mark Glass. He was appointed by Governor DeSantis and approved by the Florida Cabinet in 2022. Commissioner Glass is a 30-year veteran of the United States Armed Forces, serving in the U.S. Army as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot and in the U.S. Coast Guard as a Jayhawk pilot. He served honorably in various command roles throughout his military career including with the Florida Army National Guard, the District of Columbia National Guard and the U.S. Army, eventually retiring from the home of Army aviation at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He is a master aviator and received two meritorious service medals.

Prior to his appointment as commissioner, he served as director of Florida Capitol Police, overseeing all safety and security efforts in the legislative and executive branches.

To learn more about FDLE Commissioner Glass, click here.

Constituent of the Week

 Cozette Merritt

Our constituent of the week is Ms. Cozette Merritt, founder of the Cape Canaveral Ladies. 

In April of 2014, Ms. Merritt experienced the sadness and honor of laying to rest her husband of 57 years, Lieutenant Colonel Sylvester Merritt, United States Army Retired, at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery. 

That same day, she was touched by a stranger’s kindness at the graveside. An “Arlington Lady” had been standing as a ‘silent witness’ nearby. She approached Ms. Merritt and offered her condolences and a sympathy card which expressed the nation’s gratitude for her husband’s service. 

Ms. Merritt never forgot the ‘Arlington Lady’s’ heartfelt gesture for attending a funeral service for a Veteran she never even knew. The experience led her to approach Cape Canaveral National Cemetery officials in 2016 with an ambition to establish the Cape Canaveral Ladies. That day, the volunteer movement began. Ms. Merritt’s group mobilized a mission to stand as a “final witness” for our nation’s Veterans from every branch of service as they are laid to rest. 

To date, Ms. Merritt’s Cape Canaveral Ladies group have attended over 7,000 services.

“Some have been with me since we started over six years ago,” Ms. Merritt said. “These are wonderful women. We go to every funeral.”

Sometimes the Cape Canaveral Ladies have more than a dozen funerals in one day, which Ms. Merritt said can take an emotional toll. For that reason, each lady is asked to serve only one day each month.   

Cape Canaveral Ladies currently have about 50 volunteers and are seeking more. Ms. Merritt is the example of the requirements to be a volunteer: compassion, dedication, and the sincere desire to honor our veterans for their service to our country.

She has been recognized for her tireless efforts on behalf of Veterans and their families by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Military Officers Association of America Cape Canaveral, and Honor America, among many other organizations.

Ms. Merritt is a mother of three beautiful daughters, a grandmother, great grrandmother and the beloved wife of the late Lieutenant Colonel Sylvester Merritt, U.S. Army Ret. SD-19 is grateful for her compassionate commitment and enduring service to Veterans, their families, and our community.  

District Highlights

Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County Sailors Win at Florida East Coast Series Regatta

On February 9th, the 117-year-old Eau Gallie Yacht Club located on the east bank of Indian River Lagoon hosted the Florida East Coast Series Regatta where junior sailors from clubs as far as the Florida Keys participated. The sailors overcame the challenge of endurance as five races were sailed over a three-hour span with no timeouts or substitutes.

Nick LaRochelle and David Ratanu took 1st and 2nd respectively in the 8-foot Optimist Silver class. Competing in the larger 14-foot 420 two-person racing dingy, skipper Edee Steinkamp and crew Luke Franco raced to a 3rd place finish. Skipper Mikey Ladd and crew Jimmie Collins sailed to 7th place in the 420 class. All sailors a members of the YSF of IRC.

To learn more about the numerous youth programs offered by the Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County, click here

New Security Service Added at Melbourne City Hall Parking Garage

The City of Melbourne has contracted with Security Operations and Solutions to monitor the parking garage located at City Hall. They will be working with the Melbourne Police Department to improve safety in the parking garage during the late evenings and early morning hours after the downtown entertainment establishments close. They will be stationed at the vehicle entrance.

The security guard on duty will perform periodic walk-throughs of stairwells and will patrol each level of the garage and the immediate surrounding area during the hours of:

  • Thursday at 6:00 p.m. to Friday at 1:00 a.m.
  • Friday at 8:30 p.m. to Saturday at 3:00 a.m.
  • Saturday at 8:30 p.m. to Sunday at 3:00 a.m.

Future security enhancements will include the installation of cameras in the garage and garage stairwells.

Melbourne High School’s Chamber Orchestra Set to Perform at National Conference

The Melbourne High School Chamber Orchestra will perform at the American String Teachers Association National Conference on March 16th at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando. The students have been preparing for months and are excited to showcase their hard work as the only school from Florida performing this year. 

There will be a free, local preview performance on Friday, March 3rd at Eau Gallie High School at 7:30 p.m.  The Orchestra will perform works by many of the world’s greatest orchestral musicians including Felix Mendelssohn, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Aaron Copland in preparation for the national conference. 

For more information about the MHS Orchestra, click here

Upcoming Events

SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 Astronauts to Launch to ISS on Monday

The SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, February 27th at 1:45 a.m., according to NASA officials. The crew includes NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates’ Sultan Al Neyadi, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

The four astronauts are scheduled to spend six months on the ISS and will travel aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour carried by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The crew arrived in Florida this past Tuesday to begin their final preparations for the mission which was originally scheduled for today (February 26th), but delayed to continue flight readiness testing.

Crew-6 will be SpaceX’s sixth operational astronaut mission to the ISS for NASA. The members of Crew-5 are expected to return to Earth about five days after welcoming their Crew-6 counterparts to the ISS. 

To watch the launch live online and additional streaming of the mission, click here.

Palm Bay Aquatic Center Swim Lesson Registration Opens February 27th

The Palm Bay Aquatic Center located at 420 Community College Parkway SE will hold swim lessons for children ages six months through 12 years during Spring Break, March 13th through March 17th. Registration opens Monday, February 27th at 9:00 a.m. for the limited spaces available. Additional spring season swim lesson dates will be announced soon.

The cost is $40 per session. Discounts are available for children who receive EBT benefits or free/reduced Lunch. Registration will occur online and organizers encourage those interested to create an online account prior to registration opening to increase opportunities to secure available lesson times. 

For more information on creating an online account or to apply discounts, please email the Palm Bay Aquatic Center at [email protected] or call the center at (321) 952-2833.

Indian River County Sheriff to Hold 29th Annual Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches BBQ

On Wednesday, March 1st from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the 29th Annual Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Barbeque, hosted by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, will be held at the Indian River County Fairgrounds located at 7955 58th Avenue in Vero Beach. The opening ceremony will take place at 3:00 p.m. Additional activities include K-9 and SWAT demonstrations, a variety of vendors, displays, and entertainment. Pork and chicken dinners are available for $7.00 and hot dogs are available for $2.00.

Since 1957, the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches has been dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of youth into lawful and productive citizens. All proceeds from the event benefit local Indian River County children.

For more information, click here.

Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce Hosts “State of the Economy”

“The State of the Economy” will be held on Tuesday, March 7th from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Space Coast Convention Center located at 301 Tucker Avenue in Cocoa. The event is designed for Space Coast business, government, and industry leaders to learn about economic indicators that could impact business performance in 2023.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of State and Local Policy at the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University. Dr. Parrish will present economic research and projections for Brevard County and how Brevard’s outlook compares to other Florida counties and the nation. 

Registration is $25.00 for Chamber members and $35.00 for guests. To register, click hereand for more information, contact Jody Clark, Director of Programming and Events.

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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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