As Florida lawmakers gear up for the 2023 Legislative Session, Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland has her sights set on bettering the lives of residents by means of sensible prevention.
To that finish, she’s prioritizing the passage of three measures. Two goal Floridians’ psychological and bodily well being well-being by means of remedy and testing. The third focuses on flooding.
Hunschofsky is bringing again laws she sponsored final 12 months that aimed to authorize Florida to affix the Psychological Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), which might permit psychologists in taking part states to supply telepsychology or face-to-face counseling for as much as 30 days a 12 months.
This 12 months’s model of the invoice (HB 33) and its Senate analogue (SB 1370) by Republican Stuart Sen. Gayle Harrell — who carried the invoice final 12 months too — would do the identical.
Thirty-two states, in addition to the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, at the moment are taking part in PSYPACT. Two others, Michigan and Rhode Island, enacted legal guidelines to affix this system by April 1.
“We’ve got college students who go off to varsity and snowbirds who’re in different states,” Hunschofsky informed Florida Politics. “This manner, their trusted psychologist right here can proceed to take care of them once they’re in one in all these compact states.”
Hunschofsky can also be working HB 165, which might legalize fentanyl take a look at strips in Florida.
Former Democratic Rep. Andrew Discovered sponsored the invoice final 12 months, which Home lawmakers blocked on the ultimate day of Session. Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky filed a measure (SB 164) similar to Hunschofksy’s in January.
In 2020, greater than 6,150 individuals died from overdoses involving fentanyl, an artificial opioid 50 to 100 instances stronger than morphine, in accordance with the Florida Division of Well being. Whereas that quantity fell to three,210 in 2021, fentanyl nonetheless led all different medicine in Florida that contributed to fatalities. Figures for 2022 are nonetheless pending.
These deaths could be largely preventable if individuals had entry to fentanyl-detecting take a look at strips. The issue is, they’re unlawful right here. Florida legislation classifies fentanyl take a look at strips as banned drug paraphernalia, although they solely take a look at — and don’t facilitate the use — of medicine.
“We’ve got an issue at the moment that medicine have been laced with fentanyl, and individuals are dying of overdoses,” Hunschofsky stated. “Fentanyl take a look at strips are one other software within the harm-reduction toolbox. They don’t encourage individuals to make use of medicine. They don’t stop individuals from doing medicine. What they’re there for is to forestall individuals from dying from doing medicine.”
The third invoice Hunschofsky highlighted (HB 111) offers with infrastructure. Extra particularly, it will broaden authorities planning for future flooding throughout building tasks.
State legislation requires a sea-level rise impression research to be carried out when authorities cash is used on infrastructure tasks inside a sure proximity of the coast to make sure rising ocean ranges are accounted for.
HB 111 and the same measure (SB 1170) Miami Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud filed would prolong that requirement to each space the place flooding happens, not simply locations close to water our bodies.
“We’ve got flooding all over the place, so what my invoice does is broaden that to wherever there are flooding points or seasons,” she stated. “It’s ensuring that when you find yourself utilizing authorities cash to construct, you’re making an allowance for every part and never simply doing it blindly.”
Hunschofsky believes these payments and others she filed for consideration this 12 months apply commonsense options to issues that have to be addressed. To date, she stated, lawmakers from each events — together with Home Speaker Paul Renner — have been “very receptive.”
“It’s about doing the work, doing the analysis and homework and explaining how these payments can have a constructive impression on Floridians,” she stated.
“Now, there might be a invoice the place we would have totally different opinions ideologically as as to whether or not it would make a constructive impression, and people are the extra contentious points we hear about. However there are a whole lot of points like psychological well being and sea stage rise the place we are able to come collectively and work on good coverage and, ultimately, get issues finished and be productive, which is what we have been elected to do.”
The 2023 Legislative Session runs March 7 to Might 5.
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