Joe Negron Archives - Page 7 of 30 - Florida Politics

Senate will determine whether Bobby Powell stays or goes

It’s now up to his new colleagues whether Bobby Powell gets to stay a state senator.

Powell, a Riviera Beach Democrat, was elected to Senate District 30 this year after serving four years in the House.

But his opponent, Republican candidate Ron Berman, challenged the results with a “notice of contest,” according to reports.

Because the Senate is the ultimate judge of its members, Senate President Joe Negron appointed a “credentials committee” to review the matter.

That panel will be chaired by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican. The other members are Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican; Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican; Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat; and Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat.

It will meet Jan. 12 during the regularly scheduled committee week in preparation for the 2017 Legislative Session.

Powell already had been selected as vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development and alternating chair of the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining.

Last week, he announced a series of town halls next month in his Senate district, set for Jupiter, Royal Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.

“It is important to me that constituents across District 30 have an opportunity to meet me—and for me to meet them,” Powell said in a statement. “There’s much to share and to discuss. I look forward to getting to know this District even better.”

Push is on to decriminalize minor youth offenses

Let’s say you’re a teenager and you do something stupid. I know, hard to believe, right?

Maybe you get caught with a small amount of pot, or you’re in the wrong place when a fight breaks out. Maybe you’re out with the guys and ended up someplace you shouldn’t, or you committed a petty theft.

You’ve never broken the law before, but someone called the cops and soon you’re handcuffed in the back of a squad car with a record that will stick to you like gum on the bottom of your shoe. Potential employers, college admissions officers and just everyone else will want to know what happened the night you went stupid.

That’s why it’s encouraging that Senate President Joe Negron is aggressively trying to decriminalize these minor transgressions. Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, has filed Senate Bill 196 as part of the effort to back up Negron’s plea to “not criminalize adolescence.”

Negron isn’t talking about letting teens who commit serious crimes off the hook. He is talking nickel-and-dime stuff, like the time when George H.W. Bush was running against Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination for president. Negron slipped over to Bush’s home on Jupiter Island and put Reagan stickers on his mailbox.

Instead of arresting him, the cops told him to go back and clean up the box. But then came the push for zero tolerance for any infraction and things that in the past would have earned the youthful offender a stern talking-to started resulting in the kind of punishment that never really goes away.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2015 that Florida prosecuted more than 10,000 minors in a five-year period – the highest total in the nation. It told how juveniles are often housed with adult inmates, leading to abuse and injuries.

The SPLC’s reported added that the “Justice Policy Institute found that it costs as much as $55,407 a year to lock up a young person in Florida, although the Department of Juvenile Justice’s budget suggests the cost could be twice that amount. These policies also fail to make us safer. An adult court conviction diminishes opportunities for education and future employment. And children become more likely to reoffend, not less.”

That’s why getting someone with Negron’s power behind this push is essential. Turning certain misdemeanors into a citation instead of a police record is smart and overdue. Hopefully, his colleagues in Tallahassee agree.

Anitere Flores files bill aimed at decriminalizing youth

Sen. Anitere Flores has filed a bill to decriminalize youthful transgressions, a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron.

Flores, a Miami Republican and the Senate President Pro Tempore, filed Senate Bill 196 on Tuesday. The measure allows law enforcement officers to issue juveniles who admit to committing a first-time misdemeanor a civil citation or require the child to participate in a diversion program.

Under the proposal, law enforcement officers could issue civil citations or require a juvenile to participate in a diversion program for several misdemeanor offenses, including possession of alcohol, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct.

According to a draft of the bill, juveniles who participate in civil citation or similar diversion programs would have to spend a “minimum of 5 hours per week completing” a community service assignment.

Flores’ proposal doesn’t apply to juveniles currently charged with a crime or those who have entered a plea or have been found guilty of an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult.

The push to decriminalize adolescence is a top priority for Negron. The Stuart Republican mentioned the issue during his designation speech last year and again in November when he formally took over as Senate President.

During his designation speech, Negron said he and his brothers threw water balloons at cars passing by. He celebrated when a balloon hit one of the cars, but said the moment of fun turned somber when his target stopped in the middle of the road.

The man, he told his colleagues, looked him in the eye, flipped down his badge and told him he “hit the wrong car.”

“He marched us up to my father, told him what happened and suffice it to say, that never happened again,” he said during his designation speech.

“Now, take that same factual circumstance in fact pattern and transport it to today. It’s a virtual certainty that we would have been arrested and charged with throwing a deadly missile of conveyance, which I’m sure the Legislature’s turned into a second-degree felony with enhanced penalties,” he continued, only partially joking. “We would have been thrown into the juvenile justice system, our family would have been declared dysfunctional. … I would still be explaining this on my Florida Bar application, trying to get a license to practice law from the Board of Bar Examiners.”

Negron said there is “a delicate balance” and the state will not tolerate serious wrongdoing by young people. But, he said the state should not criminalize adolescence.

Flores’ bill also calls on counties to establish diversion programs, with the concurrence of the chief judge of the circuit court, the state attorney, public defender, and the head of each local law enforcement agency.

A House companion has not yet been filed.

At town hall in Ybor City, Darryl Rouson says climate is good for “true” criminal justice reform

At a town-hall meeting in Tampa’s Ybor City, newly-elected Senate District 19 Democrat Darryl Rouson said he feels that, finally, a serious attempt at criminal justice reform is going to take place in the Florida Legislature in 2017.

“It’s my intention to change the Black Caucus this year so that all 28 members … really stand up and do something,” he said when queried by one new constituent, who told him that the only way to stop gun violence was to provide more job opportunities for young men.

“I believe the climate is good this year for true criminal justice reform,” Rouson continued. “And we’re going to work hard.”

The St. Petersburg Democrat added that it was “unfair” for the community to criticize lawmakers like himself for not doing enough regarding urban violence, “as if we’re not sensitive to this issue.”

“These are our families. These are our friends. These are church members who are going through this issue,” he said.

Rouson met with approximately 120 of his new constituents in Tampa, where he was joined by House District 61 Democrat Sean Shaw in a joint meeting hosted by both local legislators. While Shaw represents much of Tampa and other parts of Hillsborough County, Rouson’s district encompasses that area and parts of  downtown and south St. Pete as well, making him the first lawmaker in this hybrid district to come from the Pinellas side in more than two decades. He narrowly defeated former HD 61 Representative Ed Narain by just 75 votes last month to take the seat which has previously been held in the past eight years by Arthenia Joyner.

One audience member questioned how criminal justice reform should move forward with the heavily GOP based Legislature?

“Because certain people are beginning in this phrase ‘smart justice,’ certain people are looking at the economic cost of incarceration and felonization of people to society and they haven’t looked at it like this before,” Rouson explained.

Senate President Joe Negron and St. Petersburg’s Jeff Brandes have spoken about tackling criminal justice reform in the coming year. But whether that happens or not remains to be seen. In the U.S. Senate, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker introduced the REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) in 2014. The bill is focused on helping people who committed non-violent crimes better integrate into the community and find gain full employment to reduce the chance they will commit offenses in the future.

More than two years later, it has not come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

The two lawmakers also heard plenty of questions and concerns about issues like restoring ex-felons rights, the Tampa Bay Express project, affordable housing and education.

On the restoration of voting right for ex-felons, Shaw said he intends to prepare a bill that that will deal with that issue “on the front end.”

“I want to limit the categories of people who get their rights taken away up front,” he said.

Lynn Gray, a new Hillsborough County School board member, said she was concerned that the state was going to get “more involved” in school vouchers.

“I support a fully funded high quality public education for every child that fits their need,” Rouson immediately began before adding, “But one size does not fit all.”

He went on to say that parents deserve a choice, referring to how one of his boys who was born with cognitive deficits is struggling with IEP’s (Individualized Education Program) in public schools, because there’s no type of school that handles such kids in his school district.

“I believe that parents deserve choice, but we must require accountability, strict standards, we must lessen the testing that’s going on in public schools, while requiring certain things of our private charters and public charters,” Rouson said. “And there are there are 90,000 kids supported by Step Up and tax credit scholarships.”

Shaw said that the issue of school choice was one of the items that the two lawmakers disagreed on. “Unfortunately, it’s zero sum game to a certain extent, so if we want to fully fund public eduction, we have to do it before we start doing other things,” he said, adding, “I want choices, but as a starting point, we have to fully and adequately fund public education. And we don’t adequately fund public education.”

Rouson, a noted anti-drug hawk, joked that no other senate district was in more support of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment that his SD 19. “So I’m taking a look at this,” he deadpanned.

Both men talked about how reducing gun violence, but admitted they didn’t have all the answers. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re here,” said Shaw. “We need your ideas too.”

Regarding Florida DOT Secretary Jim Boxold comment last week said there was time for a “reset” regarding the troubled Tampa Bay Express project, Shaw said,”I’m going to meet with the secretary and ask what the reset means. Regarding the TBX project itself, Shaw remains resolutely opposed to it.

“I think it’s bad. My district contains the homes that will be torn down, it contains the land that has already been sold. I’m absolutely against it.”

A number of other elected officials were in the room, including newly elected Hillsborough County School board member Tamara Shamburger and Lynn Gray, Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick and District 70 Representative Wengay Newton, who was put to work passing the microphone to members in the audience who asked questions.

Donald Trump wins all votes of Florida’s Electoral College

As expected, Florida’s 29 Republican members of the Electoral College on Monday cast their vote for Donald Trump for president and Mike Pence for vice president.

The electors are among Florida’s most loyal Republicans. They were chosen by the state GOP and approved by Gov. Rick Scott.

The votes were cast as dozens of protesters hollered and chanted against Trump in the Capitol rotunda.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was appointed by Scott, presided over the highly-scripted and generally uneventful meeting.

One bit of tension came when elector and state Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the House Republican Leader, missed the roll-call vote. He was back in the chamber within minutes, however.

“You’re buying us dinner,” Detzner joked.

Elector and Senate President Joe Negron led the pledge of allegiance before members got down to the quick work of filling out separate and distinct ballots” for president and vice president.

Each elector then signed copies of the official “certificate of vote” and had a group photo taken.

State Rep. and Republican Party of Florida chair Blaise Ingoglia apologized to electors for any “intrusion on your family time.”

The electors had been deluged with emails, letters and phone calls from people hoping to convince electors not to cast their vote for Trump, but their pleas didn’t sway them.

Elector Nick DiCeglie, the Pinellas County GOP chair, Sunday said he received “thousands of letters, thousands of emails” asking him to reconsider. He showed reporters a picture of his home postbox filled with mail on Thursday.

Ingoglia mentioned the “awesome responsilbility we have as electors,” and added he hoped his colleague would look back and say, “We were part of history.”

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.

Rick Scott wants it both ways: cut taxes, fund services. Can it be done?

Last April, in a news release by his office after signing HB-7099, Gov. Rick Scott bragged, “Over the past two years, Florida has cut more than $1 billion in taxes.”

What a happy day that must have been for the governor.

He has never met a tax he wouldn’t cut or gut, and that bill was a continuation of the theme. It included the permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school stuff.

Scott wants to keep cutting taxes, too.

It stands to reason, though, when there is less money coming in something has to lose. We got a hint of that right here in a story last week on It included a quote from state budget chair Jack Latvala about what could be a hotly contested fight for dollars when the Legislature gets together next year.

“To do any increases, we’re going to have to find areas to cut. That’s a certainty,” Latvala said. “Just my luck to be chairman in a year like that.”

But where can the hunt to “find areas to cut” lead when the governor and House Speaker Richard Corcoran want to keep chopping taxes, while Senate President Joe Negron wants to increase funding for higher education?

The Florida Policy Institute reported that more about 70 percent of Florida’s $82.2 billion budget for 2016-17 was allocated to education (29 percent) and “human services” (41 percent). Nearly 18 percent went to natural resources, growth management and transportation.

FPI also noted that despite spending increases in that budget for service areas, “they fail to fund state services at a level that keeps pace with population growth and inflation, and do not improve Florida’s national standing in the provision of these services.”

More ominously, projections are for the state to face a $1.3 billion deficit a year from now, ballooning to $1.9 billion the year after that. Since Republicans control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the Legislature, they can’t blame Democrats for fiscal irresponsibility. That leaves them with two choices: spend less, or bring in more.

It’s the acid test of the Republican (and Libertarian) ideal that growth comes through lower taxes. It’s the mantra they’ve preached for decades. We see it playing out now in Washington with the corporate tax cuts president-elect Donald Trump has planned.

Lower corporate taxes, they argue, will lead to job creation and expansion. Workers with a healthy regular paycheck will buy more things and that will sustain the government.

Well, that might be sort of true – provided government goes on a diet. That sounds fine in theory. In application, though, it gets trickier.

You also have to look at the complete picture. To coax businesses from other states to move here, Scott has touted Florida’s reputation as a low-tax state. Florida is one of just seven states without a state income tax, for instance. also sized up the bevy of state and local taxes and concluded Florida’s bite on median-income residents this year will be $4,868 – 10th lowest in the nation. That’s nearly 16 percent under the national average.

Scott probably wouldn’t be satisfied until Florida is No. 1. He seems driven to prove this state really can have it both ways – cutting taxes, cutting spending while keeping services and education adequately funded for a rapidly growing state.

Logic says that can’t be done. Latvala’s challenge is to prove it can be.

Nearly 40 apply to Joe Negron for Constitution Revision Commission

A former Senate President, Secretary of State, and state Supreme Court Justice have applied to Senate President Joe Negron for a seat on the panel that reviews the state’s constitution every 20 years.

At last tally, 39 people had applied for one of Negron’s nine picks to the Constitution Revision Commission, according to a list provided by his office. They include:

— Former Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who was term limited out of office this year. Gaetz also served as Senate President 2012-14.

— Lobbyist and former lawmaker Sandra Mortham, who also was the elected Secretary of State 1995-99. One of the changes from the last commission was making the position appointed by the governor.

— Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Wells, who was on the bench 1994-2009. Wells also was chief justice during the 2000 presidential election challenge and recount.

This will be the fourth commission to convene since 1966, and the first to be selected by mostly Republicans, suggesting it will propose more conservative changes to the state’s governing document than previous panels.  

Both Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran have said they want the commission to revisit redistricting, for instance, specifically, a rewrite of voter-endorsed amendments from 2012 that ban gerrymandering — the manipulation of political boundaries to favor one party.

As governor, Rick Scott will choose 15 of the 37 commissioners, and he also selects its chairperson.

Negron and Corcoran each get nine picks. Pam Bondi is automatically a member as attorney general, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga gets three picks.

Under law, the next commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting in a 30-day period before the beginning of the Legislature’s 2017 regular session on March 7.

Any changes it proposes would be in the form of constitutional amendments, which would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters on a statewide ballot.

Others who applied to Negron are former state Sen. Dennis Jones, a Republican, and former Sens. Eleanor Sobel and Chris Smith, both Democrats.

Ed. note: This post was originally based on a list released Monday evening. The Senate provided a new list on Tuesday, in which the list has grown to 39 applicants, including new Sens. Dana Young and Gary Farmer, and Magdalena Fresen, sister of former state Rep. Erik Fresen. That list is below:

Berger Jason Martin
Boggs Glenn Leon
Christiansen Patrick Orange
Crotty Richard Orange
Cullen Lisa Brevard
Curtis Donald Taylor
Dawson Warren Hillsborough
Duckworth Richard Charlotte
Edwards Charles Lee
Farmer Gary Broward
Fresen Magdalena Dade
Gaetz Donald Okaloosa
Gentry WC Duval
Hackney Charles Manatee
Heyman Sally Dade
Hoch Rand Palm Beach
Hofstee Michael St. Lucie
Ingram Kasey Martin
Jackson John Holmes
Jazil Mohammad Leon
Jones Dennis Marion
Kilbride Robert Leon
McManus Shields Martin
Miller Mark Martin
Moriarty Mark Sarasota
Mortham Sandra Leon
Plymale Sherry Martin
Rowe Randell Volusia
Schifino William Hillsborough
Scott Anne Martin
Smith Chris Broward
Sobel Eleanor Broward
Specht Steven Escambia
Stargel John Polk
Thompson Geraldine Orange
Wadell Gene Indian River
Wells Charles Orange
Winik Tyler Brevard
Young Dana Hillsborough

Timely advice from Joe Negron: Don’t waste time

Senate President Joe Negron was a kindly headmaster at this week’s orientation for committee chairmen and staff directors, offering excellent time management tips that everyone in #TheProcess should take to heart.

“Don’t pass flawed bills” seems like something that should go without saying. But in recent years, legislative committees have gotten into the annoying habit of advancing half-baked bills as a courtesy to colleagues who are spread too thin to do their homework, show up for meetings, and get things right the first time.

Negron is an experienced trial lawyer and very aware that judges, juries and people watching on The Florida Channel do not appreciate having their time wasted or their intelligence insulted. He encouraged committees to spend more time on oversight of state agencies and less time listening to power point presentations.

Lawmakers who heed that advice will be rewarded by voters. The proliferation of power point presentations makes too many committee meetings look like storytime at the local library. If we want scripted television, we can watch the Cabinet.

Perhaps most importantly, Negron encouraged his chairmen to facilitate public participation.

Easier said than done. Ungodly amounts of committee time are consumed with bromides, clichés, inside jokes, sucking up, and chairmen sucking down public comment time blathering about how little time there is.

Let’s stipulate that everybody: 1. Appreciates the opportunity; 2. Is honored to be here; and 3. Would love to work with you.

If that changes, feel free to put it on the record. Otherwise, just stick to the people’s business.


Trial lawyers must be very happy with Florida Senate committee assignments

It will come as no surprise that trial lawyers are looking to shoot the moon this Legislative Session.

They already made a power play during the 2016 election cycle. The Florida Justice Association, through its political committee Florida Justice PAC, spent $4.5 million since the beginning of 2015, much of which went to candidates or affiliated committees.

The group was also involved in two dozen state House and Senate primary races this year; and all but one of those candidates — Dwight Bullard, who lost his Senate District 40 race to Frank Artiles — were sworn into office last month.

But if you need more evidence of the clout plaintiffs’ attorneys are angling for, look no further than the make-up of the 2016-18 Senate committees.

While conventional wisdom tells us trial attorneys won’t get jilted under Senate President Joe Negron (an attorney) and House Speaker Richard Corcoran (ditto), the appointments to several key Senate committees appears to have already given trial attorneys — and their interests — a leg up.

Need an example? Take a look at the Banking and Insurance committee.

Chaired by Sen. Anitere Flores, the nine-person committee has four members for whom the Florida Justice PAC played Daddy Warbucks during the primaries. One of those members? Gary Farmer, the former president of the Florida Justice Association, which prides itself on “upholding the civil justice system and fighting for consumer rights,” which sounds like a tossed-off Morgan and Morgan slogan.

Farmer wears those trial lawyer credentials like a badge of honor. On the “About Gary” section of his campaign site, Farmer says he “spent almost his entire career fighting for the rights of consumers, fair and just compensation, and the protection of the civil justice system and full access to courts.” And as he points out, he’s made a career of representing patients and consumers that were “wronged by various corporations, hospitals and insurance companies’ deceptive trade practices.”

So, what the heck? Let’s put the guy who has made his bones suing insurance companies on the committee that is tasked with, in part, vetting legislation aimed at regulating the insurance industry. (Sounds like Negron is taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook.)

Also on the committee — Greg Steube, Randolph Bracy and Debbie Mayfield. All of which had the backing of the trial attorneys in their recent elections.

In a year where insurance issues rule the roost — assignment of benefits, workers’ compensation and PIP reform are just a few of the issues that could be on the table — you have to wonder, what message does having a Banking and Insurance committee that has four trial lawyer-friendly members really send to the business industry? (Hint: The courthouse is open for business.)

Steube — an attorney at Becker & Poliakoff, where he focuses on business litigation, public private partnerships, and government law & lobbying — also found himself at the helm of another powerful committee that could give trial attorneys a leg up.

Negron tapped the Senate freshman to head the Judiciary Committee. And while much has been said about what that means for gun legislation, the impact it could have on trial attorneys (and maybe their wallets) could be, as they say nowadays, “yuge.”

Case in point? On Dec. 5, Steube filed Senate Bill 100, which would repeal an entire section of law dealing with tobacco settlement agreements. Not amend a few lines here or there; no, we’re talking removing all of Section 569.23 from Florida Statutes.

So what exactly does that section of state law do? Well, among other things it drastically capped the bond amount tobacco companies have to pay to appeal court ruling. When the law was OK’d in 2009, industry officials said it was for the good of the state. If companies were bankrupted by endless Florida lawsuits, officials argued at the time, they couldn’t make the payments to the state as part of a 1999 tobacco settlement.

The Florida Justice Association threw a fit when it was OK’d, and repealing the law, even if it is eight years later, would most definitely be considered a win.

But to repeal it, supporters would need to have some friendly faces on key committees to even have a chance. And as luck – or a healthy campaign contribution plan — would have it, they do.

The nine-member Senate Judiciary Committee, where the bill would surely find itself if it were to get a hearing has at least four Florida Justice PAC backed members on it (Steube, Bracy, Mayfield and Bobby Powell).

Bracy and Jeff Clemens, another FJA backed candidate, are both members of the five-person Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, where a bill like that might land if there is a fiscal impact.

With committee assignments like these, you have to wonder: Whatever happened to the business friendly Republican Senate?

Randolph Bracy intends to be aggressive toward reform as Senate Criminal Justice Committee chair

With his potentially-groundbreaking appointment to chair the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee, state Sen. Randolph Bracy is pledging to take an aggressive approach to criminal justice reform in Florida.

The Orlando-area Democrat’s chairmanship, announced last week by Republican Senate President Joe Negron, is highly unusual for three reasons: because Bracy is a Democrat, a freshman senator, and an African-American. The appointment signaled Negron’s desire to reach across the aisle, and to take concerns about criminal justice seriously, finding a black lawmaker with deep interest and experience in the subject.

The appointment came after Negron and Bracy had several conversations about how the Democrat might fit into the president’s senate.

“I don’t think it’s every happened, especially on the Criminal Justice Committee,” Bracy said of his chairmanship. “It’s a really big deal, not only as an African-American but as a Democrat. I’m honored and humbled.”

Senate Democrats say Bracy is just the second African-American chairman of a full committee. The first was Jim Hargrett of Tampa who chaired the Transportation Committee and the Tourism, Trade and Economic Development Committee in the 1990s. Hargrett also chaired a select committee on juvenile justice reform.

Race had nothing to do with the appointment, Negron said. He said he followed Bracy’s work in the house and had high regard for him based on his reputation, and their interactions, and spoke several times with Bracy this fall about how he could fit into the senate. Bracy expressed strong interest in criminal justice. While the Criminal Justice Committee leadership was a highly sought-after post, Negron found he had confidence in Bracy.

“I thought Sen. Bracy made a strong case based on his interest in that policy area. And as you can see from his committee assignments [which also include appropriations, banking and insurance, judiciary and regulated industries] he has a wide range of committee assignments which reflect my confidence in capabilities,” Negron said.

Bracy’s Senate District 11 includes some of the biggest and most-challenged African-American communities in Central Florida, on Orlando’s west side and in west Orange County. He had served on the House Criminal Justice Sub-committee all four years he spent in that chamber prior to being elected to the senate in November. He was ranking member last year.

He’s not the only Democrat to get appointed to chair a committee; he’s one of four this year, and the last couple of senate presidents also have included Democrats among committee appointments. But criminal justice creates a unique opportunity, in a time when the issue has sparked almost universal high interest and controversy.

“I’d like to be very aggressive in tackling criminal justice reform,” Bracy said. “I know I have to work under the senate president’s direction, but my hope is we can tackle some issues aggressively that are wrong in the criminal justice system. I hope I’m up to the challenge.”

Negron also has vowed a high priority for criminal justice reform, particularly relating to juvenile justice. He said he and Bracy share the commitment.

“That’s one of the areas that we talked about in person. We both share a commitment to not criminalize adolescents,” Negron said. “Obviously we can and should and will punish serious wrongdoing by young people. But at the same time let’s not criminalize adolescence. And we talked about policies going forward that give young people the opportunity to recover from mistakes in judgment.

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