Last week the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators (FCBSL) held its annual conference in Tallahassee. The theme of the conference was “Preserving Communities of Color.” There were workshops throughout the week dealing with affordable healthcare, medicaid, education, roles of the black media, economic development, broadband technology and criminal and juvenile justice issues.
The conference also featured a closing gala in which funds were raised for the FCBSL college scholarship fund.
FCBSL, whose stated mission is to champion legislation and community issues that affect less fortunate constituents, has a history of putting their mission statement into action and making a difference.
Just this pass year they issued a paper entitled, “Promoting Broadband Adoption Among Minorities.” The paper comes as part of a larger discussion within the organization focused on the importance of Broadband technology for enhanced economic prosperity, educational, healthcare, public safety, energy, and environmental opportunities.
FCBSL encourages policy-makers at every level of government across the country to take the necessary steps to encourage widespread adoption of broadband services by minorities and empower our constituents. We must work within our communities to overcome the many barriers we are faced with each day, continue to work together within our community of policymakers to disseminate best practices, trade stories, otherwise work toward the same end and maximum broadband adoption throughout minority communities, said Senator Gary Siplin, Chair of the FCBSL.
And during last week’s conference one of its 23 State legislators, Senator Christopher L. Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale), was successful in getting Senate Bill 146 passed. A bill, which enables ex-offenders to have a second chance to be productive members of society, was passed unanimously – quite a feat during such partisan times.
“We as a legislature must provide the tools for ex-offenders to be productive and not be offenders again,” Smith said. “Today proved that the legislature is committed to creating jobs and getting people back to work.”
The bill will remove liability when employers higher ex-offenders. The bill also outlines that reinstatement of Civil Rights are not required to obtain occupational licenses, permits, or professional certifications.
Smith’s FCBSL colleagues celebrated with him and threw support behind fellow FCBSL member Representative Dwayne Taylor (D-Daytona Beach) who is currently lobbying for the companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives.
“We are working with leadership to help get ex-offenders back to work,” Smith said.
With FCBSL behind this effort, it looks like a win for Floridians.