Title: State Representative Charles "Chuck" Chestnut legislative update
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 Material Information
Title: State Representative Charles "Chuck" Chestnut legislative update
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Florida. Representative. District 23 (Chestnut, Charles)
Publisher: Florida. House of Representatives. District 23.
Publication Date: 2008
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Bibliographic ID: UF00075595
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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1 A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM YOUR
STATE REPRESENTATIVE .... 1




> AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE
SFOR THE UNINSURED ..... 2




S N- POSITIVE CHANGES TO PUBLIC
SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY MAKE IT
THROUGH SESSION ...... 4




ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
AND THE CITIZENS OF DISTRICT 23.


Greetings from


Representative Chestnut


2008


The 2008 Legislative Session has ended, and
it's great be back home in our community. I
would like to thank everyone for their letters,
emails, phone calls and office visits. I need
to hear from my constituents in order to
effectively represent your issues and concerns
in the Florida Legislature. Thank you for
helping me legislate responsively.

We began the session with a $1 billion
revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year so
the legislature was forced to reduce programs
and services in education and healthcare.
Unfortunately, the bad news from our state
economists did not stop there. In March, we
got the devastating news that the state budget
would need to be reduced by another $4
billion. What once was a $71.9 billion as the
start of this fiscal year was reduced to a $66.5
billion budget. Not surprising, assembling
the annual budget consumed our time in
Tallahassee and became the focus of this
legislative session.


Rep. Chestnut meeting with Gainesville insurers
andfinancial advisors.


However, some good initiatives did pass
both chambers and are before Gov. Crist for
his consideration. Sensible and bipartisan
public school reforms were passed that will
minimize the reliance on the FCAT as the sole
factor in grading schools. We also took initial
steps to provide health insurance to the 3.8
million Floridians who are uninsured today.
Finally, more smart energy and climate change
programs made it out this legislative session
so we can focus our attention on renewable
energy sources rather than depending on oil
and other nonrenewable energy.

Thank you for allowing me the honor
of serving you in the Florida House of
Representatives. I urge you to contact my
office if there is anything I can assist you with.
I am honored to represent our community
before the Legislature.





Digital TV on Its Way:
Prepare for the Switch to Get the Picture
Big changes are coming in television broadcasting.
On February 17, 2009, all full power television
stations are required to stop broadcasting in analog
and continue broadcasting in digital only. This is
known as the DTV transition.

To help defray the cost of digital-to-analog
converter boxes, each U.S. household can request


Your State Representative
Charles "Chuck" Chestnut


up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used
toward the purchase of eligible boxes. This
coupon program is being administered by the
National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA). For more information on
the coupon program visit www.dtv2009.gov or call
1-888-DTV-2009.











Investing in Clean Energy

LEGISLATURE ADOPTS "GREEN" POLICY FOR PUBLIC BUILDINGS


\\Wih encrig\ bill rising and gas hovering near $4 per gallon, our
Snaion hi begun to look towards alternative energy sources to
le.Isen our dependence on foreign oil. The Florida Legislature takes
borh of hlie.e concerns seriously. We worked hard this session
to encourdae energy efficiency and spur the development and
production of allemative and renewable energies in Florida.


H B -I 3 5 create 9-member Florida Energy and Climate
Co, mmisiionr ti: gude the state's alternative energy policies and
prorinjms In iddiiion, the bill adopts Climate Friendly Public
Bul-inri- rq-ullrements for the use of "green" products, lodging,
\ hic. Ic. jnd fuel and creates energy standards for the construction


of new state, county, municipal, school district, state university,
community college, state court, and water management district
buildings. Finally, the bill creates a Renewable Fuel standard
requiring that beginning on December 31, 2010, all gasoline sold
in Florida contain, at a minimum, 10 percent ethanol, by volume.

Reducing energy costs for our families is important. Increasing
the production and use of alternative energy benefits our state and
will bring great rewards for Floridians in the future. The energy
plan that passed this spring takes a significant step forward in
moving our state to the national forefront of production and use of
alternative energy.


Legislature says YES to

Consumer protections. NO

to rate reductions.


Following two destructive
hurricane seasons (2004 -
2005) that resulted in nearly
$36 billion in gross losses, we
still have a grossly unstable
property insurance market
that is unaffordable. Floridians
are being squeezed at the
gas pumps with record as
pnces, unfair property taxes.
an ever-increasing cost of
living and the ongoing burden
of skyrocketing property
insurance.

In the last year, more
Floridians have received
notice from their private
insurer that they will be
dropped. Sadly, we are far
from having a stable property
insurance market.


In 2007, this legislature took
positive steps to address an
ailing market that witnessed
unprecedented rate increases.
The steps taken last January
were aimed at stabilizing the
crisis so Floridians could catch
their breath. Unfortunately,
baby steps have been taken
to achieve rate relief and the
reforms needed to have a
stable insurance market.

This year, SB 2860 passed
the legislature unanimously
because of the good
consumer protections
in the bill. For example,
the bill repeals for a year
the practice of insurance
companies to increase rates
prior to obtaining approval
by the office of Insurance


Regulation. Also in the bill is
the requirement for insurance
companies to notify OIR 90
days before non-renewing
more than 10,000 policies in
one year. More importantly
is the requirement that
insurance companies cannot
drop a customer without a 6
month notification. Finally, SB
2860 extends the Citizens rate
freeze until January 1,2010.

Sadly, this legislation does
not address rate reductions.
Besides the one year
continuation of the Citizens
rate freeze, Floridians will
continue to have unbearable
insurance premiums. I have
heard from many of you
that we must lower rates.
However, I believe what
passed this year will not
achieve what many of you
had in mind, rate reductions.
There are good consumer
protections in this measure,
but without rate relief,
Floridians will continue to be
crushed.


USFU


FIRST STEPS

FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM

DISORDER COVERAGE


The Office of
Governor Charlie Christ:
www.flaov.com
ow


The Florida House of
Representatives:
www.mvfloridahouse.aov

The Florida Senate:
www.flsenate.aov

The Florida Department of
State (Elections, Corporations,
Archives and Historical
Resources):
www.dos.state.fl.us

Alachua County Elections:
htto://elections.alachua.fl.us

Marion County Elections:
www.votemarion.com


During the 2008 Legislative
Session, the Florida Legislature
made increasing access to
coverage for children with
autism a priority. House
Speaker Marco Rubio created
the Select Committee on
Autism and Developmental
Disorders to study and make
legislative recommendation
to the House's Healthcare
Council, which resulted
in the development of the
House's Window of
Opportunity Act.

The Window of
Opportunity Act
was a bi-partisan
comprehensive
approach to
treating autism and
other developmental
disabilities for children in Florida,
that included provisions for
increasing health insurance
coverage for these children,
as well as providing increased
access for lower-income families
and providing new educational
and therapy opportunities
through Florida's Voluntary


Universal Pre-Kindergarten and
McKay Scholarship Programs.
Members of the Florida House
overwhelmingly supported the
Window of Opportunity Act, but it
did not pass in the Florida Senate.

The legislation agreed to by both
chambers will require large-group
insurers to offer $36,000 worth
of annual medical coverage
for autism to children
5 and under, with
a lifetime cap of
$200,000 worth of
benefits. This only
covers children
with autism, and
does not include
mandatory
coverage for
children with other
developmental disabilities.
Although this legislation is a more
limited approach than the original
House proposal, it is a crucial first
step in providing help to families
in Florida dealing with this health
crisis.


WE'RE HERE TO HELP!
Welcome to our Florida House of Representatives'
Official Newsletter. Here, you can find highlights of the
2008 Florida Legislative Session.


Your input is important to the legislative process.
Therefore, we hope this newsletter will help you
understand Florida's government and make sure
you're kept up to date as we make decisions on issues
that affect the quality of life for everyone in our state.


If you have any questions or concerns, need help
with a government agency or simply want to find
out more, please call us at the number below. Our
complete contact information is listed on page six of
this newsletter.


Contact (352) 955-3083


p







Positive changes to public



school accountability make it



through the session


I have been an advocate for overhauling
the state's K-12 public education system
but have been met with resistance.
Under current law, all public schools
and school districts are graded solely on
how well students perform on the Florida
Comprehensive Assessment Test, or
FCAT.

However, the calls for reform were heard
in Tallahassee this year. In a unanimous
vote, the Florida House and Senate
passed SB 1908, which expands the
way high schools are graded under the
state's education
accountability
system.
SB 1908
establishes
end-of-course
exams in
high school
to complement
the FCAT and
introduces
civics/


government as a
required measure
of student
performance. The
bill also reduces
the emphasis
of FCAT results
in high school
grades, changes
the FCAT writing
exam and
pushes FCAT
exam dates later
in school year.
The bill expands


SI By supporting
reforms to the current

accountability
system, this
legislature will be
taking steps to
improve our public
schools. )


that assessment for high schools by
basing half of the schools' grades on
FCAT scores and half on other important
measures such as the schools' graduation
rates and advance placement course
. offerings.


Our children must
prepare to compete in
the global job market.
Students graduating
today are not
competing
with children
from Georgia,
New York


or California. Rather,
competition is from their
peers in France, England,
Switzerland and Japan.
This is why it is critical for
students to leave with a
well-balanced, cultured
education that exposes
them to world history,
foreign affairs, competitive
science standards and new
technologies.

My colleagues and I have
challenged the status


quo accountability system that aims to
achieve minimal competence and pays
no attention to other areas of student
performance. By supporting reforms to
the current accountability system, this
legislature will be taking steps to improve
our public schools. I was proud to be
a supporter of SB 1908 because it will
introduce new priorities in our public
schools. We must build on this year's
passage of SB 1908 so our children are
better prepared to compete in the global
job market.







The 2008-2009 Budget


Rep. Chestnut and colleagues enjoying Florida Ga-
tor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim
Tebow during his visit to the Florida House.



Benefits
FOR ALACHUA AND MARION
COUNTIES
Although this was a difficult budget year, my
colleagues and I were able to provide funding
for a variety of areas in Alachua and Marion
counties. They include: $97,000 for Haw-
thorne Recreational Complex; $500,000 for
Paynes Prairie Restoration; $100,00 for Sil-
ver Springs Water Quality Improvement; $1.3
million for Public Schools Workforce Educa-
tion (Alachua) and $3.1 million for Public
Schools Work-
force Educa-
tion (Marion),
$37 million for
Santa Fe Com-
munity College
Programs and
$21 million for
Central Florida
Community
College Pro-
grams; $800,00
for UF College
of Medicine
- Autism Pro-
gram; and $1 million for WUFT/FM-TV -
public broadcasting. The final budget has not
been signed by Governor Crist but I am hope-
ful that these, along with other areas funded
in our community, will remain when the bud-
get is approved.


LEGISLATURE FOCUSES
PROGRAM FUNDING
After spending nine \weeks in
Tallahassee for this sear's legisla-
tive session. leaders in the House
and Senate put together the spend-
ing plan for 2008-2009. Florida's
budget crisis dominated the 60 days
as we tried to navigate what to do
with a nearly $6 billion cut from
last year. Unfortunately, the news
is not good as healthcare, education
and public safety
will see their budgets
reduced signifi- i Florida's
cantly. For instance,
nursing homes took crisis do
a $163 million dol- the 60 day
lar cut, $53 million tried to n
was reduced from what to d
the developmentally nearly $6 b
disabled, and every from las
school kid in Florida
will find their educa-
tion cut by $130 next
year.

In practical terms, this means
seniors will just have to wait a little
longer to get the care they need
or to be turned in their beds, the
developmentally disabled will lose
critical services, and Florida's pub-
lic schools will have to cut essential
programs.

What will school districts do
to absorb the reduction in state
dollars? Some will begin to cut
afterschool and summer school
programs, reading coaches, security
officers, enrichment programs and
raise lunches. Others will possibly
close schools, eliminate guidance
counselors, shorten teacher con-
tracts and eliminate middle school
athletic programs. And our higher
education institutions are feeling
the pain as well.

As you know, the week after ses-
sion adjourned, the University of
Florida announced that it planned
to reduce student enrollment by
4,000 over the next four years and


ON PRIORITIES, CUTS


cut roughly 400 jobs. Other state
universities % ill be making simi-
lar decisions as the\ address the
revenue shortfalls and the reduced
budgets. Unfortunately, our stu-
dents will have less, but pay more.
Universities and community col-
leges have no choice to resort to
tuition increases to offer status quo
education to our college students
because these institu-
tions will not have
needed resources.
budget
dget This will impede
inated our state's ability
s as we to attract and retain
navigate a knowledge based
o with a economy as our best
million cut and brightest leave to
t year. 5 5 other states.

Public safety will see
their budgets reduced
as well. Public defenders will lose
129 positions, state attorneys will
lose 167 positions and the courts
will 67. These reductions will make
it harder for our criminal justice
system to address the rise in crime
rates and the increase demand by
our neighbors on the court system
as they obtain various licenses and
other legal documents.

It is because of the spending priori-
ties laid out in the budget and the
major reductions in healthcare, edu-
cation and criminal justice along
with State Employees not receiving
a raise or a "bonus" that I voted
against the budget this year. As a
result of the budget that passed this
year, our children in public school
might see critical programs elimi-
nated, it might be harder for high
school students to be admitted in
colleges and universities as enroll-
ment is cut and our seniors could
have less than adequate healthcare.
I simply could not support a budget
that was reduced by more than $4.5
billion while all solutions to the
budget crisis were not addressed.


1
I




;]








STATE REPRESENTATIVE


Charles "Chuck" Chestnut

2008 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE


Capitol Office:
1301 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 488-5794
charles.chestnut@myfloridahouse.gov

District Office:
3131 NW 13th Street
Suite 33
Gainesville, FL 32609-2177
Phone: (352) 955-3083

Mailing Address:
PO Box 5801
Gainesville, FL 32627-5801


Legislative Assistant:
Michelle Sherfield
michelle.sherfield@myfloridahouse.gov

District Secretary:
Nancy Williams
nancy.williams@myfloridahouse.gov

Councils/Committee
Membership:
Committee on Financial
Institutions
(Democratic Ranking Member)
Committee on Conservation &
State Lands
Committee on Postsecondary
Education
Jobs & Entrepreneurship Council


Postmaster: Please deliver to addressee or current resident.


PRESORTED STD
US POSTAGE
PAID
PERMIT NO. 1169
Fort Lauderdale, FL


000003"*000002"."".""". ECRLOT0000 **C013
ERICH KESSE
525 NE 9TH AVE
GA INES VILLE, FL 32601-4411


Representative Chestnut will be available for meetings on Wednesday from
9am 4pm at the McPherson Govemment Complex 111 SE 25th Ave, Ocala, FL.

This newsletter contains important information
about your 2008 Florida State Legislature,
including new laws that may affect YOU!


2008 Key Legislation
Although this was a difficult budget year, my colleagues
and I worked tirelessly to pass meaningful legislation.
Highlighted below is some key legislation that I either
sponsored or co-sponsored. To see a complete list of
legislation filed during this session or a complete list of my
bills, please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.


HB 641 License Plates (Passed
as SB 732) This bill recognizes
that Bethune-Cookman College is
now known as Bethune-Cookman
University as determined by the
Southern Association of College
and Schools. It will now be changed
in Florida Statutes and will allow
future license plates to be printed
with the name Bethune-Cookman
University.

HB 643 Foreclosure Fraud (Passed
as Filed) Provides legislative
findings and intent relating to the
need to protect homeowners ho


enter into agreements designed
to save homes from foreclosure;
prohibits foreclosure consultants
from engaging in specified acts
or failing to perform contracted
services and requires all agreements
for foreclosure-related services and
foreclosure-rescue services to be in
writing.

HB 959 Workforce Innovation
(Passed as SB 428) -Allows
regional workforce boards
to be direct providers of
intake, assessment, eligibility
determinations, or other direct
provider services.

HB 289 State Parks -Allows for
fiee admission to state parks on
certain state and federal holidays
for qualified persons to honor those


serving or served in U.S. Armed
Forces.

HB 511 Enterprise Zones This
bill would have given the City of
Ocala the authority to apply to the
Office of Tourism, Transportation
and Economic Development
(OTTED) for the creation of an
enterprise zone. However, due to
budget constraints and the fiscal
impact it would have had, the bill
did not pass.

HB 815 Florida Retirement
System (FRS) Would have
expanded the Special Risk
Class within the FRS to include
certain persons employed by the
Departments' of Corrections,
Children & Families, Agency for
Persons with Disabilities, and
Agriculture and Consumer Services.


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