2014 Legislative Accomplishments

2014 Legislative Accomplishments

City of Cape Coral
The State Lobbying Team was successful in obtaining appropriations for the City of Cape Coral in the amounts of $790,135 for the Reclaimed Water Transmission Main Caloosahatchee River Crossing Project, $740,341 in SHIP funds for affordable housing, and $3,850,000 for Burnt Store Road Widening.

The Team also successfully lobbied for inclusion of language in major local government pension bills which specifically addressed the City’s maximum benefit pension plan, which is expected to save the city over $120,000,000. Although the local government pension bills were not adopted, it is expected that future efforts at local pension reform will include the City’s maximum benefit language.  The Team also successfully lobbied against any amendments to bills that would have invalidated the city’s methodology for its fire assessment fee.

City of Opa-Locka
The Team lobbied for significant water and historical projects to be funded this year on behalf of Opa-Locka and were successful in securing $400,000 for their NW 127th St./Cairo Lane water project, $600,000 for a water project along NW 135th St/Cairo Lane, and $350,000 for restoration of the Historic City Hall. The City of Opa-Locka received a total of $1.35 million in funding, all of which was approved by Governor Scott.

City of Lauderdale Lakes
Lauderdale Lakes was appropriated $500,000 this session for water quality improvements which will benefit both the quality of life in the City as well as the health of the surrounding environment. This important project was approved by Governor Scott.

City of Lauderhill
The Team successfully lobbied for the inclusion of $300,000 for Floridian Well Installation which will increase access and quality of water in South Florida as well as $305,530 in SHIP funds for affordable housing in the City. These projects met with the Governor’s approval.

Village of Virginia Gardens
The Team successfully lobbied for the following projects to be included in the legislative budget: $275,000 for Stormwater ADA Improvement, 40th St. Water Project, and $50,000 for Criminal Justice Information Systems. Both of these projects were approved by Governor Scott.

City of Miami Gardens
The Team successfully lobbied for the following water projects to be included in the legislative budget: $275,000 for Vista Verde Stormwater Project, $75,000 for NW 195/204 Street Stormwater Drainage Project, $10,000 for Neighborhood Swale Re-grading, $500,000 for Crime Prevention, and $310,498 in SHIP funds for affordable housing. Though Governor Scott vetoed two of these projects last year, he approved all of the above in June of 2014.

City of West Park
The Team lobbied for the following water projects to be included in the legislative budget: $500,000 for S.W. 40th Ave. Drainage Project and $200,000 for a Retention Pond Project. These were approved by Governor Scott.

Broward County Public Schools
The Team successfully lobbied on behalf of Broward Public Schools for $200,000 for their Minority Males Success program, which was granted by the legislature and approved by the Governor.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities
For more than a decade the Team has been committed to advocacy on behalf of historically black institutions of higher learning in Florida. Legislative funding for HBCUs has increased three times in as many years in part due to our efforts to expand access to quality education in a diverse environment. This year in particular was a boon for these institutions.

This year the Team successfully lobbied for an increase in funding for the William L. Boyd, IV Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) Program. The legislature increased FRAG funding from $2,500 to $3,000 per eligible student. Bethune Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University all have students that receive grants from this program.

Bethune-Cookman University
Working alongside President Edison O. Jackson, the Team successfully lobbied for substantial state support for Bethune-Cookman including the allocation of $4,474,096 for access retention dollars, $302,614 for library resources, and $78,675 for the Black Male Explorers Program.  Access Retention dollars were increased by $513,985 over last year’s allocation and library funding was increased $129,328. Bethune Cookman’s University’s total allocation was $4,855, 395 excluding FRAG funds.

Another major victory for B-CU this legislative session was the allocation of $750,000 for the purposes of establishing an Entrepreneurship Institute, a major priority for the college. We worked with legislative leaders as well as the Governor’s office to secure this important project.

Edward Waters College
For a school of only 800 students, Edward Waters has enjoyed significant state support with the help of our State Lobbying Team. This year $3,329,526 was allocated for access retention dollars along with $302,614 for library resources and $78,675 for the Black Male Explorers Program. Access Retention dollars were increased by $500,000 over last year’s allocation and library funding was increased $129,328. Edward Waters College’s total allocation was $3,710,815 excluding FRAG funds.

Florida Memorial University
The Team also has a longstanding relationship with Florida Memorial, on whose behalf we successfully lobbied for the allocation of $3,932,048 for access retention dollars (again, an increase of $500,000 over last year), $302,614 for library resources, and $78,675 for the Black Male Explorers Program. Florida Memorial University’s total allocation was $4,313,337 excluding FRAG funds.

City of Pompano Beach
The Team helped Pompano Beach score a major legislative win in helping to secure passage of the “White-Miskell Act,” which protects tourists and recreational consumers by reforming the parasailing industry in the wake of multiple deaths stemming from neglect by unregulated commercial operations there.

The Team was also successfully in its efforts to secure appropriations for the City, all of which were approved by Governor Scott, including $300,000 for a Reclaimed Water Project, $500,000 for New Construction pursuant to a Cultural Affairs Grant, and $470,923 in SHIP funding for affordable housing.

City of Miami Springs
The Team successfully lobbied for a Hot Meals Program for Miami Springs seniors to the tune of $99,457. This worthy project was approved by Governor Scott.

City of Hollywood
For the last 23 years, Becker & Poliakoff has proudly represented Hollywood as its State Government lobbyist.  Every year, we fight at the state and local levels to preserve Hollywood’s vital economic engine, its beaches. We are proud that tens of millions of dollars has been secured to protect and fund these efforts from the State and County.  We continue to work on the sand by-pass project at Port Everglades, which is in final permitting by the DEP.  This year the Team fully funded the Fred Lippman Senior Center for $228,000, the SE Focal Point Senior Center $141,550 and the SHIP funding for affordable housing at $656,000.  We have continued to protect the City against a Claims Bill that has now been agreed to at $100,000.  We have helped save the City hundreds of millions of dollars by changing State law on the Ocean Outfall and allowing Hollywood flexibility in meeting the 60% re-use requirement.

Jewish Federations
Funding for the elderly and our beneficiary agencies has been the mainstay of our work in Tallahassee.  Over the last 25 years of representation, dozens of agencies under the Federation umbrella have received state contracts to fund social services through line item appropriations.  Millions of dollars have flowed to these agencies each year from the Department of Elder Affairs and Area Agency on Aging. Some of these agencies have been funded for over 20 years. These funds are used for senior centers, transportation, Holocaust survivor services, kosher meals, socialization and fitness, homemaker, day care, respite, and much more.  We also worked with many of our Holocaust Museums. Millions of dollars in line item appropriations were included in the budget for funding of Holocaust Museums and Jewish Community Centers this year.  The CFO also has funded the Holocaust survivor program pursuant to the Holocaust Victims Insurance Act that we expanded last year.  Through this program over $12,000,000 has been recovered through over 5,260 claims. This year we once again continued our support of the work of the Florida-Israel Memorandum of Understanding between Space Florida and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor of the State of Israel.  $1,000,000 was allocated in the budget for collaborative research, development and commercialization of aerospace and other technology and life sciences joint ventures and $100,000 for the Tel Aviv office of Enterprise Florida.

ShotSpotter
The Team was successful in introducing into circulation the idea of “ShotSpotter,” a new security technology which automatically detects gunshots and alerts the appropriate authorities, as well as securing proviso language in the general appropriations act that provides for its implementation in the City of Miami Gardens.

Miami-Dade Days Dinner
The Team assisted in the creation of a successful B&P Miami-Dade Days Dinner. Each year it is frequented by county commissioners, state legislators, and municipal officials. This year, we had a special visit by CFO Jeff Atwater.

Road/Cyclist Safety
The Team advocated along with a coalition of others in order to secure passage of the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act,” named after a Miami man killed by a driver while riding his bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The bill rectifies a legal loophole that incentivized drivers who cause an accident to flee the scene. The passage of this law makes Florida’s streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike.

City of Lauderhill Safe Neighborhood Improvement Districts
Forming a coalition between state neighborhood improvement districts, the State Lobbying Team created language that passed the Senate 36-2 and was approved by the Economic Development & Tourism Subcommittee.