State Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield Minute 03/05/2023

Good Morning!

The official opening day of our 2023 Legislative Session will begin Tuesday, March 7th at 12:00 p.m.  President Kathleen Passidomo, of Naples, was unanimously elected to preside over the 40-member Florida Senate during the Senate Organizational Meeting held on November 22, 2022. She will serve for a two-year term from 2022 to 2024. President Passidomo is the third woman to serve as Senate President in state history, and the first woman elected in over 20 years.

The late Senator Gwen Margolis, a Democrat from Miami-Dade County, was the first woman elected as Senate President. President Margolis served a two-year term from 1990 to 1992.

Senator Toni Jennings was the second woman and first Republican woman to be elected Senate President. Serving from 1996 to 2000, President Jennings, of Orange County, is the only Senate President in state history to serve two terms.

This is an exciting time in Florida history and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to serve the constituents of District 19, and for the betterment of all Floridians.

I consider it a great honor to be your State Senator. 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.

Honoring Florida’s Women in Leadership

  First Lady Casey DeSantis

The Governor and First Lady DeSantis are loving parents to daughter, Madison (6 years old), son, Mason (4 years old) and daughter, Mamie (2 years old). Mamie is the first baby born in the Governor’s Mansion in more than 50 years.

First Lady DeSantis has become a champion for fighting cancer in the State of Florida, helping to secure $100 million in recurring funding for cancer research and care. Declared cancer free by doctors in February of 2022 herself, she travels the state visiting with patients to draw attention to the importance of early screening and to provide support and hope to families affected by cancer. In honor of her work, the Florida Legislature recently renamed the Florida Consortium of National Institute Centers program the “Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.”

First Lady DeSantis has also launched four major initiatives since Governor DeSantis was elected.

Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity, Economic Self-Sufficiency and HopeImplemented through the Department of Children and Families, this initiative is uniting communities through ‘Care Navigators’ who guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity by focusing on collaboration between the private sector, faith-based community, nonprofits and government entities, breaking down traditional community silos in an effort to maximize resources and uncover opportunities.

Resiliency Florida

This initiative is a partnership with professional sports teams and athletes to address the stigma surrounding mental health. These teams and athletes are lending their voices and personal stories of resilience and hope to empower Florida students to persevere through adversity.

Additionally, to support the Resiliency Florida initiative, First Lady DeSantis worked with the Department of Education to develop Character Education Standards in K-12 schools. The standards set clear expectations for students and teachers, provides opportunities for students to learn how character contributes to the overall civic health of a society, and to understand the importance of resiliency, responsibility, and respect.

The Facts. Your Future.

Through a public affairs partnership between the Office of the Attorney General, the Florida Department of Health, and the Florida Department of Education, the initiative empowers students with the facts surrounding substance abuse. 

Before her path to Florida, First Lady DeSantis attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She competed on the equestrian team, placed as runner-up at the Division I NCAA National Championships, and became a three-time national champion equestrian outside of college competition.

Following graduation, First Lady DeSantis worked for the PGA Tour as a producer and on-air host. She worked for two Florida television stations in Jacksonville, where she held positions ranging from general assignment reporter, police beat reporter, weekend anchor, and morning anchor. She had the privilege of covering numerous military stories including deployments on the USS John F. Kennedy, the last conventionally-powered aircraft carrier, and the USS Florida, a cruise missile submarine. She is the recipient of an Emmy Award for on-air talent and two Emmy nominations.

Statewide Update

Governor DeSantis Signs Legislation Ending the Corporate Kingdom of Walt Disney World

Governor DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 9-B, Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange, and Osceola Counties, to end self-governing status and special privileges provided to Walt Disney World through the Reedy Creek Improvement District and establish a new state-controlled district accountable to the people of Florida.

“Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” said Governor DeSantis. “This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes.”

HB 9-B ends Disney’s self-governing status and imposes a five-member state control board that is appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation.

More on HB 9-B can be found here.

Florida Recruits Nearly 1,400 New Law Enforcement Officers from Other States

Last week Governor DeSantis announced that nearly 1,400 bonuses have been issued to newly employed law enforcement recruits in Florida. Through the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Payment Program, 431 people from 45 states and U.S. Territories have relocated to Florida to become law enforcement officers, including more than 155 from New York, California, and Pennsylvania.

The program is part of the strongest, most comprehensive law enforcement support initiative in the nation. Each of the 1,400 law enforcement officers received a $5,000 bonus after taxes, bringing the total to more than $7 million delivered through the program to date.

“In Florida, our number one priority is to protect Floridians and the best way to do that is by supporting the law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe,” said Governor DeSantis. “My administration will continue to deliver on our promises by prioritizing law-and-order policies and making Florida the best state to be a law enforcement officer.”

Florida’s crime rate is at a 50-year low, with total crime dropping 8.3% in 2021 and murder offenses dropping by 14%.

For more information about the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Payment Program, click here

FLHSMV Launches the “Never Drive Impaired” Campaign

Florida is one of the nation’s most popular destinations for Spring Break vacations for both students and tourists during March and April each year. Unfortunately, March has also historically shown a higher occurrence of DUIs on Florida’s roadways.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) work tirelessly to educate the dangers of driving impaired and to enforce laws that protect residents and visitors of our state.

Throughout March, FLHSMV and FHP will spearhead an impaired-driving awareness campaign aimed at reducing impaired-driving-related crashes and fatalities across the state.

Around the slogan “Impairment is No Illusion,” the Never Drive Impaired campaign will focus on making conscious choices that encourage safety when behind the wheel.

“As a state built on freedom, Florida welcomes people to visit, travel, and enjoy the best our state has to offer. We are a state that puts public safety and order first, and so there are no excuses when it comes to driving while impaired,” FLHSMV Director Dave Kerner said. “Impaired driving – whether from alcohol or drugs – has real consequences, and the Florida Highway Patrol will look for and punish those caught breaking the law.”

Of the 88,494 impaired-driving crashes – those influenced by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both – in Florida in 2022, 41% (36,508) occurred in March.

For more information on the types of impairment and the “Never Drive Impaired” campaign, visit here.

Agency Highlight

Florida Department of Corrections

FDC is the nation’s third largest state prison system with a budget of $2.9 billion, serving approximately 80,000 inmates incarcerated, and nearly 146,000 offenders on probation. Over 80% of FDC’s 23,000 member staff statewide are certified correctional officers or probation officers.

Throughout Florida, FDC has 143 facilities, including 50 correctional institutions, seven private partner facilities, 16 annexes, 33 work camps, three re-entry centers, 12 FDC operated work release centers, 18 private work release centers, two road prisons, one forestry camp and one basic training camp.

The mission of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is to provide a continuum of services to meet the needs of those in the State’s care, create a safe and professional environment with the outcome of reduced victimization, safer communities, and an emphasis on the premium of life.

FDC provides academic, vocational, and substance abuse programs to inmates and offenders, including the GED, adult basic education, and mandatory literacy; printing and graphics training, carpentry and digital design; and Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Secretary Ricky D. Dixon leads Florida Department of Corrections upon appointment by Governor DeSantis in November 2021. Secretary Dixon previously served as Deputy Secretary responsible for the overall operation of the agency, working collaboratively with each program area to ensure the mission and vision of the Department are accomplished.

Secretary Dixon oversaw the largest evacuation of inmates in the United States during Hurricane Irma, establishing Florida as a national leader in hurricane response.

He was responsible for the administration and management of FDC’s 50 major correctional institutions and their associated facilities. Facility missions range from death row and other high custody units to female units, work camps, community and work release centers, road prisons and residential treatment facilities.

Secretary Dixon began his career as a Correctional Officer at Lancaster Correctional Institution in 1996. He was promoted through the security ranks and was appointed Correctional Officer Colonel of the Florida State Prison. Following this appointment, he gained experience as an Assistant Warden at Martin and Okeechobee Correctional Institutions and was later promoted to Warden, a position he held at three state correctional institutions. He was then promoted to Regional Director of Institutions overseeing approximately one third of Florida’s prisons.

Over the course of his career, Secretary Dixon has been certified as an instructor in firearms, defensive tactics, ethics, field training and hostage negotiation. He was asked to assist with the development of the American Correctional Association’s Correctional Behavior Health Certification exam, which is used nationally to certify correctional mental health professionals. His experience also includes time as an auditor, ensuring all institutions meet or exceed operational review standards.

In addition to many other recognitions and honors, Secretary Dixon is a Certified Corrections Executive with American Correctional Association and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Florida Gulf Coast University. He is a graduate of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Executive Seminar.

For more information about Florida’s Department of Corrections, click here.

Constituent of the Week

 Police Chief Melanie Griswold, Town of Melbourne Beach

Chief Melanie Griswold has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. She began her career in 2002 as a Patrol Officer in Melbourne Beach, the small one-mile square beachside community with 3,100 residents.

She then advanced through the Department as a Field Training Officer, Public Information Officer, Community National Night Out organizer, Detective Corporal, and Detective Sergeant.

In 2018, Melanie Griswold was appointed the first female Chief of Police for the the Town of Melbourne Beach. 

Chief Griswold earned an Associate and Bachelor of Science in Business Management (Magna Cum Laude) from Columbia Southern University. She became a Drug Recognition Expert, a certification she received in 2006 at the Institute of Police Technology and Management in Jacksonville. She is a member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and serves on the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission Disciplinary Guidelines Advisory Panel. Chief Griswold has received several accommodations throughout her career, such as Officer of the Year in 2004, the Life Saving Award, recognitions for apprehensions of violent criminals, and the arrest and conviction of a sexual offender.  

Chief Griswold is committed to community policing, which represents a strategy of policing that seeks to build ties by working more closely with residents and businesses. She has demonstrated leadership with integrity to reinforce the Town of Melbourne Beach Police Department’s mission and to meet the community’s expectations of professional policing. Through a focus on positive change, Chief Griswold reorganized the agency, and brought more technology and safety measures for officers. In addition, she is a strong advocate for her officers’ education and advanced training.

She has been married to her husband Stephen for 22 years, and is the mother of two grown children, and she has two grandchildren.

District 19 is honored to recognize Chief Melanie Griswold during National Women’s History Month and every day for her 20+ years of service as a first responder in our community and as the first female police chief for the Town of Melbourne Beach. Thank you Chief Griswold for your service.

District Highlights

POW/MIA Monument Unveiled in Sebastian’s Riverview Park

Last week, hundreds of guests gathered at Sebastian’s Riverview Park Sunday for the unveiling of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action monument sponsored by Sebastian Squad 189 of the Sons of the American Legion. 

According to George Von Kantor, Public Information Officer for Squad 189, “The POW/MIA monument was the idea of the squad’s past commander, Peter Puzzo of Vero Beach.” 

Since WWI, there are still more than 82,000 Americans who are unaccounted for from wars and conflicts,” said Von Kantor. “The squadron takes this opportunity to remind everyone to spare no cost or effort in the repatriation of those brave sons and daughters of America who have been too long away from home and their loved ones. This small gesture is set here, in our park, to remember and honor the devotion and bravery of those who have fought for our freedoms and, as yet, have not come home to rest.”

The new monument, which was placed surrounding the flagpole with other monuments in the park, was funded entirely by local donations. 

National Math and Science Initiative and DoD STEM Launch College Readiness Programs at Viera and Satellite High Schools 

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) has launched its College Readiness Program (CRP) in partnership with Viera High School and Satellite High School. Both high schools are military-connected and serve Patrick Space Force Base. The program partnership is made possible with dedicated funding from the Department of Defense’s STEM Education & Outreach office (known as “DoD STEM”) through the Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC).

After one year in NMSI’s College Readiness Program, students at military-connected schools average a 45 percent increase in mastery of college-level concepts in math and science — compared to the national average increase of 5.6 percent.

Students with family members serving in the military move an average of six to nine times during elementary and secondary school. NMSI’s CRP leverages the College Board’s proven Advanced Placement framework, consistent learning across schools, making each move to a new school a little easier.

For more information on the new program, click here

Upcoming Events

13th Annual “Space Coast Conquers” at The Avenue Viera

The 13th Annual Space Coast Conquers event to combat childhood cancer will be held on March 18th from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at The Avenue Viera (2261 Town Center Avenue). While the event is well-known for participants shaving their heads in support of children diagnosed with cancer, there are other ways to participate through donations, vendors, and activities. The funds raised will support St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest charitable organization funding childhood cancer research grants.

Organizers say children, teens, and infants are diagnosed with cancer every day, but donations are drastically down for research to find cures. For children and their families facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation reminds eveyrone that ‘research is hope” for all experiencing cancer.

For more information about the Space Coast Conquers event, click here

240th Commemoration of the Last Naval Battle of the Revolutionary War

Presented by the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the American Revolution, the Veteran’s Memorial Center, located at 400 South Sykes Creek Parkway in Merritt Island,will be hosting the 240th Commemoration of the Last Naval Battle of the Revolutionary War. The event will take place on Saturday, March 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

The last naval battle of the American Revolutionary War took place off the coast of Cape Canaveral on March 10, 1783. The battle commenced when three British ships sighted two Continental Navy ships, the Alliance commanded by Captain John Barry and the Duc De Lauzun commanded by Captain John Green, sailing northward along the coast of Florida. 

The battle lasted less than an hour. The British HMS Sybil, outgunned and badly damaged, broke off from the battle and fled. The Alliance and Duc De Lauzun then continued on their victorious mission at dawn on March 11, 1783.

In 2006, the Canaveral Port Authority, the Florida Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Florida Department of State unveiled Marker Number F-583 in Merritt Island in honor of the Last Naval Battle of the American Revolutionary War.

For more information on the 240th Commemoration event, click here.

Melbourne Beach to Hold First-Ever Kids’ Business Fair Highlighting Young Entrepreneurs

The Melbourne Beach Kids Business Fair will host over 75 new entrepreneurs ages six to 17 at Ryckman Park (509 Ocean Avenue in Melbourne Beach) on March 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“Kids will sell everything, including handcrafted jewelry, tasty baked goods, homemade pet treats, and spa essentials. Some children will even be offering services like fun carnival games, face painting, and balloon animals,” according to organizers.

To be eligible, participants in the Kids’ Business Fair had to create a product or service, develop a brand, build a marketing strategy, and then open for customers at this one-day marketplace to be eligible. 

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s business innovators and leaders. The Kids’ Business Fair gives children the opportunity to spread their entrepreneurial wings and get a head start on promising business careers,” said Jeff Sandefer, founder of the Acton School of Business, one of the sponsors of the fair.

Prizes will be awarded in varied age groups in the categories of:

  • Most Business Potential
  • Most Creative Idea
  • Most Impressive Presentation

Live entertainment, food trucks, and raffle prizes will be available.  For more information, click here.

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Contact Information

Melbourne Office 

900 East Strawbridge Avenue

Melbourne, FL 32901

(321) 409-2025


Tallahassee Office

400 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5019


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