Q&A with Florida Senate District 28 candidate Kathleen Passidomo

Naples Daily News

Click Here to Read Online

 

Name: Kathleen C. Passidomo

 

Age: 65

 

Family: Husband, John; daughters Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella; grandsons William and Emilio

 

Lived in the district since: 1979

 

Work background: October 1999 to present, partner at Kelly, Passidomo & Alba, LLP; March 1995 to October 1999, partner at Kelly, Price, Passidomo, Siket & Solis, LLP; March 1984 to March 1995, partner (1987) at Harter, Secrest & Emery; September 1982 to March 1984, owner of Kathleen C. Passidomo, Esq.; May 1981 to September 1982, partner at Schweikhardt & Passidomo, P.A.; October 1979 to May 1981, associate at William Schweikhardt, Attorney At Law.

 

Public service: Florida House of Representatives, 2010-16; Florida Senate since 2016

 

Political affiliation: Republican Party

 

Q: Why should voters elect you?

A: I am a consensus builder who has been able to work collaboratively with my colleagues from both political parties over the last eight years to pass almost 50 bills ranging from strengthening laws to protect the elderly from financial abuse, foreclosure and guardianship reform to complex technical bills dealing with corporate and business laws. I understand the legislative and budgetary processes and I get things done. In the time I have left before being term limited I have a number of important initiatives I plan on undertaking and will put the same drive, energy and creativity into tackling those issues.

 

Q: What would be your top three priorities if you are elected?

1. The Legislature included $69 million in the PreK-12 budget for mental health assistance in the 2018-19 budget, however, that funding is just a start. In 2016 the Legislature passed a mental health and substance abuse initiative (SB 12). My goal is to fund the bill.

Hello! We’ve got complete midterm election coverage right here. Let’s begin!

2. Over the last six years over $662 million has been swept from the affordable housing trust funds. Last session I filed a bill that would have prohibited this.I am committed to discontinuing the sweep of housing trust funds so they may be used for the purposes intended.

3. One significant unaddressed water quality concern is inadequately treated septic tank effluent seeping into the aquifer. It is imperative the state address these antiquated systems.

 

Q: Is Florida doing enough to solve Southwest Florida’s algae crisis? Why or why not?

A: Government at all levels can and should do more. We need to complete the Everglades restoration plan authorized in 2000 and delayed during the economic downturn due to funding availability. Now, as the economy strengthens and with Congress passing the Water Resources Development Act we are in a position to fund those projects in addition to funding the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project (SB 10) to provide more water storage. Also, to address the root causes of the problem the state and local governments need to work collaboratively to address statewide stormwater management, fertilizer runoff, wastewater treatment and septic seepage.

 

Q: What role does the state have in regulating growth in Southwest Florida?

A: Implementation of the state’s growth management policy and decisions on growth regulations should be made at the local level.  Some requirements of the state’s policies have hindered the ability of local governments to effectively manage growth within their communities. Currently, every local government has a comprehensive plan in place and local land use regulations to implement the plan. Local governments are now more sophisticated and are employing creative planning techniques to guide growth. The state should not “micromanage” local government but should provide legislative and statutory oversight and partner with local governments in implementing best practices and common-sense regulations that are tailored each community.

Editorial: Passidomo’s priorities a good road map for Legislature

Naples Daily News

Click Here to Read Online

 

Bolstering mental health programs in a state that’s ranked No. 50 in per capita funding. Further protecting vulnerable elders from abuse. Making sure Florida pays competitive teacher salaries.

Stopping lawmakers from diverting money from Florida’s affordable housing trust funds in order to balance the budget. Addressing additional ways to protect our water quality, specifically by eliminating septic tanks that might leak into aquifers.

If that agenda was accomplished by the 2019 Legislature, it would be an extremely successful session. It’s the campaign platform of state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who we enthusiastically endorse for re-election on the Nov. 6 ballot against an outstanding Democratic opponent, Annisa Karim.

Passidomo’s District 28 spans Collier and Hendry counties as well as southern and eastern Lee County.

In position

In a Republican-controlled Legislature, Passidomo, who has served in either the Florida House or Senate since 2010, should be well-positioned to help influence her chamber’s direction in 2019.

This year she chaired the pre-K through 12th-grade appropriations subcommittee, crafting a budget proposal that would have raised teacher salaries in Florida by 2 percent, significantly increased the allotment for teachers’ classroom supplies and created a new initiative to address mental health issues that are troubling students, thus affecting their schools.

Passidomo was on the right track to help public schools, but says two things happened: The House had different education spending priorities and the tragic South Florida high school shooting necessarily shifted the Legislature’s focus and spending to safety programs.

In the end, Passidomo says, the Legislature increased the student funding allocation for all programs by 1.4 percent or $101.50 per student total. Mental health assistance for schools, for example, received $69 million.

 

With leadership changes looming for 2019 in the House, Senate and governor’s mansion, Passidomo has the knowledge of the inner workings of the current education budget to pursue what’s needed in the state during her next term.

Similarly, it was her bipartisan bill to stop the legislative raids of the affordable housing trust fund that could have assisted Collier County and south Lee County as they now grapple with providing adequate housing options for the workforce and senior citizens. The 2018 bill didn’t pass, but she’s primed to try again.

Increased housing assistance for elders would add to Passidomo’s legislative accomplishments on behalf of seniors during the past eight years. An attorney, she’s pushed to strengthen protections for older residents covered under Florida’s guardianship laws.

What’s next?

While this year’s additional mental health money for students was an important first step, Passidomo calls it “the proverbial drop in a bucket of funding that we need for mental health prevention, early intervention and treatment” programs. She vows to advocate for adequate funding to follow through on a behavioral health initiative approved in 2016 by the Legislature.

As for protecting water quality, while various officials focus on other necessary aspects of this critical issue, Passidomo wants to explore an idea she’s dubbed “septic to sewer.” For example, she suggested environmental bonds might create financing so property owners can replace older septic tanks with connections to expanded sewage treatment systems. Septic tanks that leak into the groundwater are a concern, she says, and the outright cost of septic tank conversion or replacement is out of reach for many property owners if they don’t have financing.

Though we haven’t endorsed Karim in this race and didn’t in a 2016 Collier County Commission contest, it’s only because she’s challenged two of Collier’s political stalwarts. There’s no question Karim is well-prepared to become an accomplished public servant.

Sprucing up the swamp: Fakahatchee boardwalk getting $1.3 million upgrade

Marco News

Click Here to Read Online 

 

For years, the Fakahatchee has seemed to be a kind of redheaded stepchild among area nature preserves. Miles away from coastal population centers, hidden away in the woods, the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park doesn’t have the name recognition, funding, or the bigtime organizations backing it, as do Everglades National Park or Rookery Bay.

Narrower, more rustic, and maintained entirely by volunteers from the Friends of Fakahatchee, the Fakahatchee boardwalk doesn’t have the cachet of the Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

But things are looking up. The Fakahatchee is the recipient of a $1.3 million appropriation from the Florida legislature, and the park’s boardwalk along US 41 will be receiving some major upgrades.

One thing they won’t be changing is the swamp itself – and that’s a good thing. Some of the cypress trees are 600 years old, and tower overhead, along or even through the planks under your feet, with the boardwalk built right around several of them. Many of the cypress are girdled with massive, sinuous strangler figs, which manage in this climate to coexist with their host.

What will change is access, accessibility, and viewability of the natural surroundings. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 7 to kick off the Boardwalk Expansion Project, making improvements to the facilities and entrance to the 2,300-foot wooden boardwalk. These will include safer vehicular access, sanitary public restrooms, and an expanded parking lot with deceleration lanes that will end the necessity for those using overflow parking to walk across the federal highway, with cars whizzing by at 60 to 70 mph.

A suspension pedestrian bridge will take visitors across the canal that parallels the road, to an interpretive center containing information and exhibits about the boardwalk and the swamp. Perhaps most exciting, an elevated “epiphyte walk,” 20 feet up in the tree canopy, will literally give visitors a bird’s eye view of the swamp.

 

 

Just north of US 41, the famed Tamiami Trail, the boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend represents the easiest way to catch a glimpse of the Fakahatchee, maybe including an alligator or two, plus a host of other wild fauna and flora. Despite being “miles from nowhere” this slice of wild Florida hosts approximately 100,000 visitors each year, said Friends of Fakahatchee executive director Francine Stevens.

“The boardwalk really is the front door into the Fakahatchee,” she said.

The new setup will also include regulating entry to the boardwalk, said Friends president Patrick Higgins. Just as other state parks do, but the Fakahatchee never could, they will now charge an entry fee to help fund maintenance and additional improvements to the facility. Tour operators bringing busloads of tourists will help preserve the boardwalk, which after Hurricane Irma was in such an advanced state of deterioration that the state said it should just be allowed to fall completely apart, forcing the Friends group to step in with volunteer labor and materials.

 

“After Hurricane Wilma, the State of Florida decided to ‘let it rot,’ saying the boardwalk was too far gone to repair,” said naturalist and volunteer guide Linda Koreny.

The Friends of Fakahatchee is also becoming the master concessionaire in the park, regulating ecotour operators who run boat trips or other activities in the park, which will be an additional source of revenue.

Friends of Fakahatchee board member and past president Tom Maish credited the $1.3 million in funding appropriated by the state legislature largely to the good offices of State Senator Kathleen Passidomo of Naples, who spearheaded the effort, with assistance from State Representative Bob Rommel.

“The Fakahatchee is a gem – there’s nothing like it,” said Passidomo. “In the heart of the Everglades, this shows you what our natural beauty really is. I fell in love with it.”

Fortunately, the funds were requested two years ago, she said. “This year, there was very little funding available. The timing was perfect.

“Everybody who saw the plans was really impressed,” said Passidomo. The plans were the work of Naples architect David Corban, AIA, who incorporated green principles throughout.

“As an architect, sustainability is very important to us, particularly in a pristine area” such as the Fakahatchee. “Any time you do buildings in a place like this, you have to be very careful, leave a small footprint,” said Corban.

His design sets up pilings at angles, so they resemble trees, and uses low-impact helical piles that don’t require a conventional pile driver to be set in the ground. The walkway he designed will give visitors the chance to go 20 feet up into the tree canopy and view the swamp from above. The bar grate decking allows sunlight through.

Whether you see if from above, or at boardwalk level, the Fakahatchee boardwalk is one of just a handful of opportunities to easily take a tour of how Florida looked before man altered the landscape.

The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is on the north side of US-41 (Tamiami Trail), 25 miles east of downtown Naples, and about 7 miles west of SR-29. To learn more about guided tours or to support the Friends of Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization, go to www.orchidswamp.org.

Kathleen Passidomo: To stop algae problem, get serious on septic tanks

Florida Politics
Click Here to Read Online 

 

If Florida wants to fight blue-green algae and red tide, it means getting serious about septic tanks, says state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.

“Anyone of us who has a bathroom is at fault,” the Naples Republican said.

Passidomo spoke on South Florida’s ongoing water woes at a Naples luncheon organized by the Women’s Republican Club of Naples Federated.

There, she went over the history of waterway manipulation in Florida, from the expansion of farming around Lake Okeechobee to the creation of the Herbert Hoover Dike to stop flooding in the region and the manipulation of the Kissimmee River to more rapidly direct water from Central Florida into the Lake.

Over the past century or so, humanity connected the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers to Lake Okeechobee artificially while altering the natural filtration of nitrogen and phosphates in the land.

These efforts started when 30,000 people lived in South Florida, she said, and now millions of residents face the consequences.

But to address the issue means more than focusing on a few large polluters, she said. As Big Sugar gets demonized by BullSugar and other groups, Passidomo noted its importance to guarantee compliance will environmental rules but also essential to see the big picture.

“We don’t have a statewide initiative or study that looks to form a global perspective,” she told Florida Politics. That needs to change, and it will require statewide support,

“This cannot be a South Florida thing or a Southwest Florida thing,” she said. North Florida, which looks to protect its own springs, and Central Florida, where many South Florida leaders point as the source of nutrients in Lake Okeechobee itself, need to focus on eliminating septic use as well.

Passidomo also referenced an attack by Annisa Karim, her Democratic challenger in state Senate District 28, noting the incumbent, in fact, voted to lift requirements that property owners regularly have septic tank inspections.

“If I could go back would I have voted to repeal it? Probably not,” Passidomo acknowledged.

But she noted that vote came at the early stages of the Great Recession when people feared a government inspection forcing them to pay for $25,000 or $30,000 worth of repairs or replacements at their own homes.

Now, Passidomo wants to take a fresh look at septic tank requirements. She noted communities like Key West addressed the matter at the local level.

Indeed, Melba Wagner, a former member of the Key West utility board, attended the luncheon today and said the decision to put septic requirements on homeowners created an uproar on the island but resulted in drastically improved water quality.

Passidomo says there must be septic improvements statewide, but it can’t be forced on communities.

“We can’t do what we usually do, which is to tell local government to just eat it,” she said. “What we need to do is say, this is a framework, and you have to decide on a community level how to get there.

“The issue is funding, and for all of those of us who live here we have to participate in the funding.”

As for Karim’s suggestion that lawmakers need more scientists in the Legislature and that Passidomo doesn’t follow the research, the incumbent pushed back hard on the notion.

“If you’re a scientist, go and do your job,” Passidomo said. “Don’t just talk about it. Come up with solutions. Standing up and saying the Legislature isn’t doing the right thing isn’t solving the problem. Go to Mote Marine and help. Then you can come to me and say this and this are the cause of that.”

“I can then take your science say let’s make this doesn’t happen and this doesn’t happen so that doesn’t happen. That’s what I can do. That’s what I’m good at doing.”

Kathleen Passidomo: Candidate for Florida State Senator, District 28

News Press

Click Here to Read Online

 

Candidate name: Kathleen Passidomo

Political position sought: Florida State Senator, District 28

Occupation: State Senator, District 28
Partner, law firm of Kelly, Passidomo & Alba, LLP

Education: 

BA Cum Laude, Trinity College (now University), Washington, D.C.
JD-Stetson University College of Law

Residence: Naples

Why are you running for this office?

I have spent my adult life in civic and professional service in Southwest Florida. Over the past almost 40 years, I have pursued a career here, raised three children here and worked to improve our community. The time here has afforded me the opportunity to engage with people from all over our community and truly understand the issues that are important to them. I  have always had the desire to run for public office to take what I’ve learned at the local level to the state level. In 2010 when my youngest daughter headed off to college, I became an “empty nester.”  I seized the opportunity to continue to serve my community by running for public office. I was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and haven’t looked back. When Senator Richter termed out in 2016 I ran and was elected to the Florida Senate.  I am invested in this community and my sole interest is making Southwest Florida a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire. There is so much work to do and I have many ideas on how to make this community and state better. I have the drive, determination and energy to continue to serve and I am hopeful that when the time of my public service comes to an end I will be able to say that the initiatives I led, the bills I sponsored and the constituents I helped may not have happened if I had not been here.

What makes you stand out from your opponent(s)?

My record of community service and experience in the practice of law for nearly 40 years provides me with a well-rounded understanding of the issues facing our community and state. Additionally, although the legislature is considered a “part-time” position, I am able to be fully accessible to my constituents to respond to their needs and to work on their behalf.  From my service in the legislature for the past eight years, I have gained an understanding of the legislative process and I have the ability to focus on a myriad of policy areas ranging from education, the environment, the justice system, state infrastructure, regulated industries, health care and appropriations.  This experience is invaluable when deliberating on proposed legislation and helping to craft a state budget. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, I am a consensus builder.  I work well with my colleagues from all political parties and am considered an effective and capable legislator who gets things done.

Previous elective office/ elective office experience:

Florida House of Representatives: 2010–2016
Florida Senate: 2016- present

Do you have a criminal record? Have you ever been found to have committed any other civil or ethical violations? 

No criminal record. No.

Would the state of your health impede you from serving in this position?

No.

What are your three most important priorities if you are elected or re-elected?

Priority 1 Mental Health
Priority 2 Environmental-Septic to Sewer
Priority 3 Affordable Housing

How would you implement Priority 1?

Florida ranks near the bottom of all the states in the country in funding of mental health and substance abuse.  When I was appointed to Chair the PreK-12 Appropriations Committee last fall, the first thing I did was to set up a workshop with School Superintendents from around the state to discuss their legislative priorities for the upcoming Session.  Without exception, each participant told the Committee that the number one issue facing our schools was mental health.  Students who come to school with mental health issues disrupt the classroom so that teachers can’t teach, other students can’t learn and the student in crisis can’t learn either.  I determined that my number one priority would be to advocate for funding for mental health initiatives in our schools.  The $69 million dollars mental health appropriation in the upcoming budget is just a start.  We need more funding and more programs for substance abuse and mental health prevention, early intervention and treatment, not just for our youth but for their families and other community members whose only “treatment” is provided by the prison system, an expensive and ineffective placement for these individuals. .I want to continue the progress made the last Session, and, in particular, to fund SB 12, a comprehensive program to address Florida’s system for the delivery of behavioral health services that passed in the 2016 Legislative Session,  but has not received adequate funding.

How would you implement Priority 2?

Much attention has been given to environmental issues pertaining to water quality, Everglades restoration, Herbert Hoover Dike repair,  the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project and the overdue implementation of the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Over the last six years, the Legislature has spent nearly $1.1 billion on Everglades restoration projects. Additionally, with the $100 million the state has allocated to rehabilitation of the Dike, the Dike rehabilitation will be completed by 2023. The Legislature has also contributed over $200 million to the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, which is nearing completion and will attenuate the amount of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee by restoring more than 12,000 acres of wetlands. All of these projects will gradually improve the situation and reduce nutrient levels and temperature variations in our rivers.  One significant area that has not been addressed is the seepage into the aquifer from the thousands of septic systems throughout South Florida.  As the population of the state continues to grow and the septic systems age, it is imperative that the state considers undertaking a septic to sewer program.  It will be an expensive undertaking but one that needs to be addressed. I propose to have an OPPAGA study performed to determine how such a program should be implemented, the cost, and the feasibility of the state borrowing the funds through the sale of “Environment” bonds to the public and/or amend the PACE statutes to include sewer infrastructure as an item homeowners may finance through the program.

How would you implement Priority 3?

When the legislature passed the Sadowski Act in 1992, creating the State and Local Housing Trust Funds, and raised the documentary stamp tax, it was with the promise that the monies would be used for affordable housing. It was supported by industry organizations like the Florida Realtors and the Florida Home Builders Association (who considered this to be a tax on their industries) based on that promise. Over the last 6 years, over $1.2 billion dollars in documentary stamp tax collections should have been allocated to these trust funds. In the same time period, over $662 million dollars have been swept from these funds. With the current crisis of the lack of affordable housing in this community (and in many other parts of the state), the last Session I filed a bill that would have prohibited the legislature from sweeping these funds. The Senate held off until the end of the budget negotiations on sweeping any of those funds, but in negotiations with the House ended up sweeping $182 million of the Sadowski funds. I am committed to continuing to pursue my efforts to stop the sweep of the housing trust funds so they may be used for the purposes intended in the 1992 legislation.

Do you support open records and open meetings laws? Would you ever support any exemptions to the public’s right to access information? Would you support efforts to expand these laws?

Yes, I support open records and open meetings laws.  I support exemptions from the public’s right to access for personal information of certain individuals such as law enforcement, military members, crime victims, etc.  and their families who may be susceptible to threats of bodily harm or injury.  Florida has some of the most open, accessible and transparent records and open meetings laws of any state in the country so it would not seem to be necessary to expand the laws.

Do you support drug testing of elected officials? Why or why not?

I support drug testing of elected officials.  Elected officials are responsible for decisions on collection and expenditures of public funds and making decisions that will impact the lives of all of their constituents.  They need to be clear headed and focused .. An elected official should be held to a higher standard.

Commentary: Civic work helps shape legislative agenda

Naples Daily News

Click Here to Read Online

 

My friends and family urged me to respond to misinformation and personal attacks in a number of recent letters to the editor. Instead, I’d like my constituents to know who I am, what I’ve done and what I stand for. 

I came to Naples in 1979 with my husband, John, as a bride fresh out of law school. My profession is important to me, and I worked hard at my career. I was in the first group of attorneys in the state to obtain board certification in real estate law. I was also honored to be elected by my peers to serve as president of both the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association.

As my career progressed I was mindful of my parents’ teaching to give back to the community. I did just that by using my background and legal skills to help almost 100 civic, charitable and business organizations with their corporate documents and governance structure.

From creating the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council to serving as co-chair of the community engagement initiative of the Education Foundation of Collier County-Champions For Learning (“Connect Now”) and as president of the Southwest Florida Land Preservation Trust to chairing the board of The United Way of Collier County, I had the opportunity to work with citizens from all over Southwest Florida with a common goal of making our community a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Along the way, John and I had three daughters: Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella and now we have two grandchildren, William and Emilio.

 

I’ve always had the desire to run for public office so that I could take what I’ve learned at the local level to the state level. In 2010 when my youngest daughter headed off to college, I became an “empty nester.” I seized the opportunity to continue serving my community and ran for public office. I was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and then to the Florida Senate in 2016 and haven’t looked back.

As a member of the Legislature, I focus on issues important to Southwest Florida. My foreclosure reform bill grew out of a partnership I helped form of community, civic and governmental organizations to provide pro bono advice and assistance to people facing foreclosure.

Another community partnership in which I became involved, the Identity Theft Task Force, came about because of the burgeoning incidents of identity theft in our community, especially among our seniors. That partnership led to my sponsorship of a bill to combat identity fraud.

Last session the tragic shooting in Parkland prompted the Florida Legislature to act swiftly to ensure the safety of the students in our schools. I fought to make sure significant mental health funding was allocated to our schools and sponsored legislation to establish partnerships with local mental health providers.

I also championed several other critical issues during my time in the Legislature, including legislation to provide increased care to infants affected by opioid addiction and guardianship reform. I was also successful in obtaining significant funding for local needs.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done but there is so much more to do. I have a “bucket list” of initiatives focused on helping our community that I will undertake, including more emphasis on mental health funding; a septic to sewer program to address one of the root causes of the algae problem besetting our state; continuing my fight to stop legislative “sweeps” of the affordable housing trust fund and continued focus on issues confronting our elderly population. For more see: KathleenPassidomo.com.

— Kathleen Passidomo is the Republican incumbent candidate for Florida Senate District 28 on the Nov. 6 ballot. The Daily News is publishing guest commentaries from legislative and countywide candidates from now through late October. Yesterday’s was from District 28 Democrat Annisa Karim.

My friends and family urged me to respond to misinformation and personal attacks in a number of recent letters to the editor. Instead, I’d like my constituents to know who I am, what I’ve done and what I stand for. 

I came to Naples in 1979 with my husband, John, as a bride fresh out of law school. My profession is important to me, and I worked hard at my career. I was in the first group of attorneys in the state to obtain board certification in real estate law. I was also honored to be elected by my peers to serve as president of both the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association.

As my career progressed I was mindful of my parents’ teaching to give back to the community. I did just that by using my background and legal skills to help almost 100 civic, charitable and business organizations with their corporate documents and governance structure.

From creating the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council to serving as co-chair of the community engagement initiative of the Education Foundation of Collier County-Champions For Learning (“Connect Now”) and as president of the Southwest Florida Land Preservation Trust to chairing the board of The United Way of Collier County, I had the opportunity to work with citizens from all over Southwest Florida with a common goal of making our community a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Along the way, John and I had three daughters: Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella and now we have two grandchildren, William and Emilio.

 

I’ve always had the desire to run for public office so that I could take what I’ve learned at the local level to the state level. In 2010 when my youngest daughter headed off to college, I became an “empty nester.” I seized the opportunity to continue serving my community and ran for public office. I was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and then to the Florida Senate in 2016 and haven’t looked back.

As a member of the Legislature, I focus on issues important to Southwest Florida. My foreclosure reform bill grew out of a partnership I helped form of community, civic and governmental organizations to provide pro bono advice and assistance to people facing foreclosure.

Another community partnership in which I became involved, the Identity Theft Task Force, came about because of the burgeoning incidents of identity theft in our community, especially among our seniors. That partnership led to my sponsorship of a bill to combat identity fraud.

Last session the tragic shooting in Parkland prompted the Florida Legislature to act swiftly to ensure the safety of the students in our schools. I fought to make sure significant mental health funding was allocated to our schools and sponsored legislation to establish partnerships with local mental health providers.

I also championed several other critical issues during my time in the Legislature, including legislation to provide increased care to infants affected by opioid addiction and guardianship reform. I was also successful in obtaining significant funding for local needs.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done but there is so much more to do. I have a “bucket list” of initiatives focused on helping our community that I will undertake, including more emphasis on mental health funding; a septic to sewer program to address one of the root causes of the algae problem besetting our state; continuing my fight to stop legislative “sweeps” of the affordable housing trust fund and continued focus on issues confronting our elderly population. For more see: KathleenPassidomo.com.

— Kathleen Passidomo is the Republican incumbent candidate for Florida Senate District 28 on the Nov. 6 ballot. The Daily News is publishing guest commentaries from legislative and countywide candidates from now through late October. Yesterday’s was from District 28 Democrat Annisa Karim.

Florida Retail Federation backs Kathleen Passidomo for re-election

Florida Politics

Click Here to Read Online

 

On Tuesday, the Florida Retail Federation announced its endorsement of Naples Republican Kathleen Passidomo for a second term in Senate District 28.

“Senator Passidomo has been a true champion for retail by helping ensure Floridians are prepared in the event of a disaster, working towards tort reform, providing more than $150 million in tax relief for Florida families and having the best interests of the state’s businesses at heart,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re eager to continue working with Senator Passidomo on identifying ways to support retailers, families and our industry going forward.”

The retail trade group specifically lauded Passidomo for sponsoring the 2018 bill creating the recent disaster preparedness sales tax holiday, which cut the sales tax off items including batteries, flashlights, tarps, generators and other hurricane prep supplies.

Passidomo was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving three terms in the House. She faces Democrat Annisa Karim in fall 2018.

As of May 31, Passidomo had raised nearly $280,000 for her re-election campaign and had $211,563 cash on hand. She has another $325,000 banked in her affiliated political committee, Working Together for Florida.

Karim has raised $2,135 since entering the race on May 22. She has about $2,000 on hand.

SD 28 is a safe Republican. In 2016, Passidomo only faced a write-in challenger, and her district voted plus-23 for Donald Trump.

 

Passidomo, other lawmakers jump in after FHSAA won’t mandate ice tubs for heat stroke

News Press

Click Here to Read Online

 

The Florida High School Athletic Association may get what it asked for after reiterating Tuesday that it will only mandate basic life-saving equipment in case of heat stroke if told to do so by lawmakers.

Florida Sen. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples said she’ll begin working on legislation to mandate access to ice tubs in cases of heat stroke after the state agency voted not to require the standard equipment or special thermometers that measure heat stress.

“I’m going to sit down over the summer and see if I can work with the association so that we can craft a bill that works for everyone and accomplishes our goal of making sure students aren’t going to die from heat stroke,” Passidomo said. “It’s important that we work together.”

June 6: FHSAA refusing to change stance on heat illness safety equipment

April 30: FHSAA mandates heatstroke training for coaches, athletes; tables ice tub vote

April 27: FHSAA draws medical rebuke, legislative attention for heat safety agenda

Passidomo may already have legislative help.

Robert Sefcik, a member of the FHSAA’s 15-person Sports Medicine Advisory Committee that first recommended in late January that the state agency mandate the safety items, said two other state senators also support mandating the equipment.

“We’re going to continue fighting,” said Sefcik, executive director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program. “I do feel we are more aligned than we were previously.”

Despite medical and public ridicule that has reached beyond state borders, the FHSAA held to its previous position at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting in Gainesville.

It voted, although not unanimously, only to “strongly recommend” the use of what are known as wet-bulb globe thermometers and ice tubs, which are already widely used for exercise recovery reasons.

After the board delayed its first vote in late April, FHSAA leadership reiterated Tuesday its original lines of thinking: that a mandate might expose the agency to greater legal liability, and that such a mandate is the domain of the state Legislature.

“It’s really a failure of responsibility,” said Douglas Casa, head of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut and one of the nation’s foremost authorities on exertional heat stroke.

“How many deaths do we still have to have? The most ludicrous thing in the world is that a school can support the cost of all the things to have an athletic program. But we’re not going to make the suggestion that they should have an immersion tub if a person should happen to have heat stroke in Florida in August playing in football gear?”

Florida leads the nation in deaths of high school athletes from exertional heat stroke, according to the Stringer Institute, named for the late NFL offensive lineman killed by heat stroke in 2001.

Nationwide, an average of three football players die every year from heat stroke at all age levels, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

That’s despite a “100 percent” survival rate when a person suffering heat stroke – the most severe heat illness, when core temperatures hit 104 degrees – is immersed in cold water within 5-10 minutes.

Outgoing FHSAA board president Frank Prendergast, athletic director at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, and FHSAA staff attorney Leonard Ireland spoke along similar lines from past meetings.

They have questioned how the FHSAA would enforce usage, wondered about costs and implementation for overburdended coaches and administrators and argued that a mandate would be akin to expecting coaches to serve as medical personnel.

But Casa and others cited the FHSAA’s reason for existence – overseeing high school sports – and the many safety and medical rules and training the agency already requires without any legislative mandate.

In late April in fact, the FHSAA mandated that 30-minute online courses on heat safety education be added to other instructional requirements in place for coaches and athletes, such as on concussions.

“The coaches are always going to be the first line of first-aid defense when there’s not an athletic trainer there,” said Casa, pointing to cardiac arrest or other medical events.

“The adult there is always the responsible party. I completely disagree that heat stroke is something a coach would not get involved with but a cardiac event they would.

“The bottom line is (Florida) eventually is going to get this, whether through legislation or a rash of deaths, and they approve it under pressure. Hopefully we don’t lose more kids this summer.”

Laurie Martin Giordano, whose son, Zach Martin Polsenberg, died of heat stroke after collapsing at Riverdale High School football practice almost a year ago, said she still has not gotten an answer on how enforcing heat stroke policies would be any different from enforcing countless other FHSAA policies.

“Why wouldn’t this be policed the same way the others are?” said Martin Giordano, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “The manual is over 100 pages long. How do they police all that? They don’t go to each school and talk to each coach.

Left completely untouched by the FHSAA in all of this is that almost none of its policies apply outside the school year, meaning there is no heat safety coverage in the summer.

The medical advisory committee in late January also recommended that the FHSAA apply its heat safety policies to summer months, which are left almost entirely in the hands of individual schools and districts.

“We know the primary months for heat stroke, especially in our region, are July, August and September,” Sefcik said. “That’s something we’re going to continue to be aggressive with and work together with the board and make sure that comes up with their language.”

Florida Chamber: Sen. Kathleen Passidomo Is 2018 Most Valuable Legislator

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has named Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, the 2018 Most Valuable Legislator (MVL), for her commitment to securing Florida’s future. The announcement and presentation of the MVL was made during the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors Thursday morning meeting taking place in Palm Bay.

The Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring a single lawmaker for his or her outstanding legislative leadership and willingness to take a stand for free enterprise. 

“Early during the 2018 legislative process, the Florida Chamber encouraged lawmakers to lower the cost of living, lower the cost of doing business and move Florida forward by putting long-solutions ahead of short-term politics,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Chamber. “The Florida Chamber applauds Senator Kathleen Passidomo for her hard work and leadership on behalf of Florida’s families and businesses.”

A small-business woman, Sen. Passidomo has long been a fearless and effective partner in the Florida Chamber’s fight for free enterprise, says the Chamber in its press statement. As the torch bearer of multiple Florida Chamber-backed priorities this session, she attracted bipartisan support for pro-jobs legislation, took well-funded special interests head-on for Florida’s future job creators, and successfully sought to keep Florida’s dismal, bottom-five legal climate from getting worse. Florida needs more public servants who wake up every day thinking about how to make Florida more competitive—regardless of the opponent or political consequences.

“I am truly humbled to be recognized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce as their 2018 Most Valuable Legislator,” said Passidomo in accepting the award. “It is an incredible honor to receive this prestigious award. Legislative change doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and collaborative effort. Working together with the Florida Chamber team, we have been able to advance policies that will have a lasting positive effect on Florida’s families and our business community.”

Previous recipients of the Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award include: House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (2016), House Speaker Will Weatherford (2014), Rep. Larry Metz (2013), House Speaker Dean Cannon (2012), Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (2011), Sen. John Thrasher (2010), Sen. Garrett Richter (2009), Rep. Dennis Ross (2008), Rep. Stan Mayfield (2007), Rep. Don Brown (2006) and House Speaker Allan Bense (2005).

Also Thursday morning, the Florida Chamber released its annual publication How They Voted — which provides the grades for all 155 legislators so business leaders can see who voted for or against job creation and economic growth.

 

Originally posted here.

Florida Chamber: Sen. Kathleen Passidomo Is 2018 Most Valuable Legislator

Sunshine State News

Click Here to Read Online

 

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has named Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, the 2018 Most Valuable Legislator (MVL), for her commitment to securing Florida’s future. The announcement and presentation of the MVL was made during the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors Thursday morning meeting taking place in Palm Bay.

The Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring a single lawmaker for his or her outstanding legislative leadership and willingness to take a stand for free enterprise.

“Early during the 2018 legislative process, the Florida Chamber encouraged lawmakers to lower the cost of living, lower the cost of doing business and move Florida forward by putting long-solutions ahead of short-term politics,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Chamber. “The Florida Chamber applauds Senator Kathleen Passidomo for her hard work and leadership on behalf of Florida’s families and businesses.”

A small-business woman, Sen. Passidomo has long been a fearless and effective partner in the Florida Chamber’s fight for free enterprise, says the Chamber in its press statement. As the torch bearer of multiple Florida Chamber-backed priorities this session, she attracted bipartisan support for pro-jobs legislation, took well-funded special interests head-on for Florida’s future job creators, and successfully sought to keep Florida’s dismal, bottom-five legal climate from getting worse. Florida needs more public servants who wake up every day thinking about how to make Florida more competitive—regardless of the opponent or political consequences.

“I am truly humbled to be recognized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce as their 2018 Most Valuable Legislator,” said Passidomo in accepting the award. “It is an incredible honor to receive this prestigious award. Legislative change doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and collaborative effort. Working together with the Florida Chamber team, we have been able to advance policies that will have a lasting positive effect on Florida’s families and our business community.”

Previous recipients of the Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award include: House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (2016), House Speaker Will Weatherford (2014), Rep. Larry Metz (2013), House Speaker Dean Cannon (2012), Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (2011), Sen. John Thrasher (2010), Sen. Garrett Richter (2009), Rep. Dennis Ross (2008), Rep. Stan Mayfield (2007), Rep. Don Brown (2006) and House Speaker Allan Bense (2005).

Also Thursday morning, the Florida Chamber released its annual publication How They Voted — which provides the grades for all 155 legislators so business leaders can see who voted for or against job creation and economic growth.