Rep. Angie Nixon, who represents House District 14 in Duval County, is realistic about what the next 60 days hold for Democrats.
“I don’t have too many expectations,” Nixon said by phone last week ahead of the start of the 2022 Legislative Session. “I don’t expect any Democrat to pass transformative legislation.”
That’s not because transformative legislation won’t be filed, but because of the political realities in the GOP-controlled Legislature.
“It’s an election year and Republicans are playing to the base,” Nixon said, including the “ambitious” Gov. Ron DeSantis, who Nixon believes is considering a run for President.
“There are not many hopes for the people in the back rows,” Nixon added, though she does harbor hope for a soon-to-be-filed school readiness bill that will increase eligibility for pre-K program vouchers.
Nixon noted the state’s increasing minimum wage came with a seemingly unintended consequence: families facing the “financial cliff” of not being able to meet expenses.
“It’s hard to go back to work without child care,” Nixon, a mother of two herself, said. “Expanding eligibility would benefit a lot of people.”
Among Nixon’s filed bills are a number of measures that may have difficulty getting heard.
Nixon notes the subjectivity of the law, and criminal justice measures more broadly, contending that “people in power get to choose” what words like “riot” mean in this context.
Noting that the Governor’s staff had 72-year-old Ben Frazier, a former broadcast journalist and current political activist, arrested for refusing to leave a press conference last week, Nixon said that “when it comes to Black lives, anytime we speak out we risk getting taken to jail.”
Nevertheless, the bill will have a tough time, as will two other Nixon re-files from 2021.
Nixon brought back HB 507, a measure that would create a state Department of Labor, which would allow people to report wage theft. She also refiled HB 627, the “Florida Family & Medical Leave Act.” The legislation would mandate 12 weeks of employer-paid family leave for employees to bond with children after birth, adoption or foster placement.
Nixon is also cognizant of the redistricting process, which will reshape maps in Northeast Florida and beyond. She notes that while it is uncertain what district she will be drawn into for upcoming elections, she is “going to continue fighting for Florida all across the state.”