As part of Community Conversations, we recently asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network: What do you want Florida lawmakers to focus on this legislative session? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
Florida is the last of the 50 states where advanced practice nurses cannot prescribe controlled medications. We need to be allowed to practice to the full extent of our education and abilities as recommended by the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s Report on the future of nursing. My patients have to drive back to my office to pick up scripts for stimulants for ADD because I meet with my collaborating physician weekly. Some of my patients fly in from California or drive from Miami or West Palm Beach, and it is a hardship for them. The FMA is worried that giving ARNPs [Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners] the ability to prescribe controlled substances will result in pill mills, but the physicians have managed to do that themselves and there is no evidence that this has occurred in the other 49 states where advanced practice nurses can write for Xanax, for instance.
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Valerie Kolbert, Boca Raton
Give teachers a raise. It’s been five years since their last raise. Funding teacher salaries not only attracts and retains the best talent, it also shows children education is important. And invest in public transit. Light rail, high-speed rail projects cut down on road construction, attract business to our state and cut down on smog and traffic.
Enrique Baloyra, Miami
I would love to see our lawmakers get serious about real crime. We have dumb drug laws that need to be fixed, with realistic punishment where and when needed for actual crime. Crimes against people need to be treated more seriously, and drug users should not face criminal charges. But, despite that, the courts should address their addiction, treat them, not punish them. Fix the Corrections Department problems. They need help with infrastructure. They need to rehabilitate, rather than just punish. They need to address mental illness.
Leonard Feinman, Hialeah
They should prevent commercial exploitation of state parks. They should enable the water management districts to do their jobs without political interference and require the WMDs to keep the public lands and waters they manage open to public use. They should find ways to pay state employees better wages. They absolutely must institute meaningful reforms in the departments of Corrections and Children & Families. They also must crack down hard on education fraud, which they have cynically, corruptly enabled.
Arnold Markowitz, Miami Shores
The focus on this legislative session should be on how to reduce insurance policies for home owners throughout the state. Every other year, I am tossed around from insurance company to insurance company just because my policy is sold or at worst case scenario, the policy will no longer be available to me or others in the state.
Jorge Hernandez, Miami
Open carry and constitutional no license required concealed carry of defensive weaponry. People on low or fixed incomes shouldn’t have to spend money every so many years on a government license just to be able to defend themselves when they are away from home. It’s ridiculous to charge someone money in order for them to be able to feel safe when they are out shopping or going to and from work. A government that taxes people for the right to be able to defend themselves is not a moral government.
John Turman, Miami Springs
Providing healthcare for the 500,000 uninsured Floridians and making it easier for Floridians to vote — especially by expanding early voting hours and enfranchising ex-felons who have served their sentences. What I don’t want the Legislature to do: continue their obsession with making abortions difficult to obtain for poor women.
Betty King, Miami Beach
Traffic and vehicle enforcement, as too many people blatantly ignore stop signs, red lights and other driving rules. With all the hit and run incidents, I can only assume many of those drivers are either uninsured, unlicensed, or driving under the influence [of alcohol]. I’m almost afraid to leave the house!
Greg Bito, South Miami
Marijuana for medical use, background checks for firearm purchases, banning automatic weapons, limiting ammo, no private firearms sales.
Martin Kahn, Highland Beach
I’ve worked at the South Florida Reception Center and know that our prisons are understaffed and the staff that is working is underpaid. This combination is at the root of the criminal activities we have seen by corrections officers. I’m a registered nurse who has worked in the South Florida healthcare market since 1980. We are very foolish and cruel when we do not take care of the poorest and sickest among us. When we do not manage diseases like hypertension and diabetes it leads to serious complications like kidney failure that costs us more money and it is hurtful and morally wrong. Finally, our governor can deny climate change, the rising seas, and increasing temperatures but that will not stop them from being real. We need to get our heads out of the sand and work to mitigate the environmental damage that’s happening now.
Daniel Nicgorski, North Miami
I would like to see them focus on developing better education policies, including those that deal with teacher contract status, retirement, and national Board Certification. Over the last few years lawmakers have created policies that are harmful to both teachers and students.
Kathleen Pham, Miami Shores