The Florida Legislative Black Caucus, one of the state’s oldest minority political groups, has selected its new leadership board for the next two years.
Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, will serve as Chair and Rep. Kamia Brown, an Orlando Democrat, will serve as Vice Chair
“I am honored to serve as incoming chair of this outstanding organization and look forward to the great things this new board will accomplish in the upcoming year,” Powell said in a statement.
Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Tracie Davis was elected Secretary. Pompano Beach Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams will be the Treasurer, and Tampa Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell is the new Parliamentarian.
The caucus, which includes six senators and 23 House members, dates back to 1964, at a time when African Americans were still subject to racial segregation laws.
In 1968, Joe Lang Kershaw became the first African American in the Florida Legislature, but the caucus did not formally launch until 1982 when 12 African Americans were elected to the Florida Legislature. Since then, the state leaders have advocated in Tallahassee for issues that impact their constituents in majority-minority communities.
“Historically, the FLBC has been a champion for quality and affordable health care, proper funding for education, business and economic development, civic, social and criminal justice, alternative energy resources and environmental advancements,” representatives said in a statement.
Members of the board are elected every two years. The chairman sets the group’s agenda for each term.
Caucus members meet with community stakeholders ahead of each Legislative Session to determine their priorities and then author legislation based on their findings.
Powell has represented his district, which includes Palm Beach, Jupiter, Rivera Beach, Lake Park and Juno Beach, since 2016.
Last Legislative Session, he successfully proposed a bill that excludes Baker Act cases — involuntary mental health evaluations — from open records law. This Session, Powell’s bills have a recurring theme of criminal justice reform.
“We have had a very strong two years under Chair Bruce Antone, and as a unified front we are looking forward to keeping that momentum into this new decade,” he said.
Brown has also represented her district, which includes parts of Orange County, since 2016. Last Legislative Session, she filed a bill that expands the Closing the Gap grant program, created to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities
In 2020, Brown has proposed laws that promote better health and education outcomes in underserved communities.