Legislative Session Preview: Dan Daley champions more Florida National Guard boots on the ground

Dan Daley with Nikki Fried
The Sunrise Democrat wants to beef up the National Guard, students' ability to save choking victims.

Increasing the number of boots on the ground protecting Floridians and improving the chances that someone in distress could be saved are at the heart of Rep. Dan Daley’s priority list as the Session begins.

The Sunrise Democrat has filed legislation (HB 723) aiming to bolster recruitment for the Florida National Guard, which currently has one of the lowest soldier-to-citizen ratios in the country compared to other states.

“It’s simply inadequate for the size of our state and its propensity for disasters,” Daley said.

Right now, the federal government has capped the Florida National Guard at 12,000 members. Even at that low strength, the state is having a hard time filling those slots, Daley said. His proposal, modeled after successful programs to boost National Guards in Alabama and Vermont, would incentivize more people to join up, he says.

The idea seems to be drawing bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Tom Wright filed a similar bill (SB 1138).

Another piece of legislation (HB 585) Daley is going to be pushing for was the winning idea in the annual Democracy in Action contest with local high schools. Students at McArthur High School in Hollywood had the idea that every public school cafeteria in the state should be required to have a poster with step-by-step instructions on how to save the life of a conscious choking victim.

“By requiring emergency first aid instructions for choking in public school cafeterias, this bill will ensure the health and safety of students in the event of an emergency,” Daley said.

Also, it could also be part of igniting a fire for public service in the younger generation.

“That bill contest is one I run every year,” Daley said. “It’s actually how I met my boss back when he (now-Broward County Circuit Court Judge Ari Abraham Porth) was in my seat. And so I hold it near and dear and we run it every year.”

Another bill he’s filed is aimed at closing a loophole in laws governing special districts that’s now being exploited in his area at the North Springs Improvement District in Coral Springs. The Florida Bulldog has run a series of articles detailing how the manager of the district has used a company the board president owns to do work for the district.

Daley and Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky are sponsoring the bill (HB 199) that would close the loophole.

The effort is getting bipartisan support. Republicans Sens. Nick DiCeglie and Clay Yarborough are carrying an identical bill (SB 620) in the Senate.

Overall, though, Daley is worried about the overall results of this Session. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate, who also has a concealed carry permit, sees no good reason for the current permitless carry proposal other than political motivations, he said.

Daley promised to fight to stop the permitless carry bill this Session (HB 543). But he fears members of the GOP supermajority don’t share his sentiments about the role of the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government this time around.

We are going to spend a lot of time this Session basically helping (Gov.) Ron DeSantis run for President, not addressing the kitchen table issues that Floridians care about,” he said. “Most Floridians don’t care about Ron DeSantis trying to measure the drapes in the Oval Office. They are about property insurance, they care about the cost of living. They care about health care. They care about any number of issues.

“A lot of them we’re not going to touch and maybe we simply gloss over them,” Daley added.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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