After officially earning the House District 97 seat on June 18, state Rep. Dan Daley is looking ahead to his inaugural Session in the Florida House.
“I’ve been waiting — willing, ready, and able to serve — since Feb. 14,” Daley said in a talk with Florida Politics about the upcoming session — as well as his path to get there.
Daley highlighted two main priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session. The first is working on legislation to protect the Everglades, the environment and water quality.
Daley’s district, in the northwest corner of Broward County, extends into the Everglades. He noted recent algae outbreaks, which have triggered worries about a dip in tourism, have prompted action from lawmakers.
But Daley argued the state’s environmental problems are widespread and deserve continued attention.
“Once it started impacting our tourism industry, everybody suddenly said, ‘Okay all hands on deck,’ ” Daley said.
“But this has been an issue for years and is going to continue to be an issue for years.”
The second priority for Daley is continued work on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, passed in 2018 following the tragic shooting in Parkland. HD 97 covers Coral Springs, home to several of the families affected by the shooting.
Daley was critical of follow-up legislation from the 2019 Session that allowed teachers to be armed after undergoing training as part of the state’s Guardian program.
“The arming of teachers is a poison pill put in what is otherwise potentially good legislation, and it’s unfortunate,” Daley argued.
“I think it just really took away from what could’ve been good progress because I’ll tell you right now, I would’ve voted no.”
But Daley says he wanted to ensure the reforms in the 2018 law are maintained.
“Even before the one-year anniversary of the shooting, you already had members of the House filing bills that would’ve clawed back some of the good provisions of that law, which is just insane to me,” Daley said.
“I think there’s still work to be done, as so I say protecting and enhancing, where possible.”
One of those House members targeting the law’s reforms was GOP state Rep. Mike Hill. The Pensacola lawmaker pushed to repeal several gun control measures agreed upon as part of the bipartisan legislation.
Hill has also courted controversy in recent weeks over his reaction to a man’s suggestion that he push a law allowing gays to be executed.
The News Journal released audio detailing Hill’s exchange with an audience member at a meeting with a group called Women for Responsible Legislation.
A man in the audience (incorrectly) cites 1 Corinthians, saying it supports putting gays to death, then asks Hill to sponsor legislation allowing the same. Hill is heard on tape laughing before saying, “I wonder how that would go over.”
“I agree with members of my party and members of his party who have come out condemning his statement,” Daley said.
“I think his comments were abhorrent. I think his actions were abhorrent. I think his lacks of an apology was abhorrent. But look, I’m not the only one who feels that way. The Speaker and others on both sides of the aisle have condemned that entire situation.”
While Daley faced a relatively easy path to election, his path to getting to the House floor wasn’t so smooth.
After declaring for the House District 97 seat vacated by former state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, not a single challenger stepped up for the seat, allowing Daley to take the seat unopposed.
But House Speaker José Oliva cited Florida law that members of the Florida House are seated on the day of their election.
That seemed to conflict with the wording of the Executive Order from Gov. Ron DeSantis which set up the special election to replace Moskowitz. Daley made note of that EO in discussing his wait to be seated.
“I would’ve at least appreciated a compromise that would’ve let me in in April, per the Governor’s Executive Order,” Daley said.
“If you look at the Governor’s Executive Order, it said should there not be a general election, the primary becomes the general election. Well under that logic, I should’ve been able to come up in April.”
While an April seating would not been early enough to allow Daley to file bills or participate in committee hearings, he argued it would have benefited the district.
“To at least have a presence in Tallahassee to be able to participate on the floor, to be able to get up and running sooner rather than later, I think would’ve been beneficial to my constituents,” Daley said.
But he conceded he was ready to move past the issue once the 2020 Session begins.
“At this point, that’s water under the bridge,” Daley argued.
“I am willing to work together to get something done. So I’m not the type of person to come in and think that I know better or think that I know best. I want to work with folks to develop good policy for the state of Florida and to be a good representative for my district.”