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The Florida Senate

Minority Office — Press Release


May 15, 2020

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 850.487.5833

Senate Democrats Urge the Legislature to Hold Special Session & Work for the People of Florida

Tallahassee —

Today, Senate Democratic Leader Designate Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point), Senator Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale), Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami), and Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) held a press conference on getting to work for the people of Florida at the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

At the press conference, the Senators made the point that while the Governor and Legislative leadership are urging the people of Florida to get back to work, it is time for the Legislature to get to work for them as well. The Senators called on the Governor to pay all unemployment claims currently pending and for a Special Session to expand Medicaid and increase access to healthcare for Floridians, and to ensure all voters are able to safely make their voice heard at the ballot box this fall.

For those who could not attend, the press conference can be viewed on the Senate Democratic Caucus Facebook page or on The Florida Channel.

Additionally, for interested reporters, please reply to this email to be provided with a list of Floridians affected by the state’s broken unemployment system who would like to share their stories.

“It is our belief that if we are going to ask Floridians to get back to work, the Legislature must also get to work on their behalf.” – Leader Designate Gary Farmer

“The Governor could fix the issue (unemployment benefits & weeks available) today with a stroke of his pen, but he refuses to do the right thing for the people of Florida.” – Senator Victor Torres

“We gave everyone the burden of staying home. We all accepted it. I accepted it. But we didn’t give them the benefit of the promise that was made both by the state and the companies they work for.” – Senator Jason Pizzo

“Our government has an obligation to keep our people safe and to ensure that a voice in the process through their right to participate in elections. By ensuring the availability of vote-by-mail ballots and eliminating barriers that would prevent our people from using them we will be fulfilling both of those mandates.” – Senator Perry Thurston

Although they could not attend the press conference, these members of the Senate Democratic Caucus provided the following statements:

“It is unconscionable that nine weeks after our regular session that there are individuals who are still waiting for ANY payment from our unemployment system, that the system has made payments to only half of the confirmed claims, that many Floridians have only received minor partial payment and that there does not seem to be anyone at the Department of Economic Opportunity who can answer questions and/or troubleshoot issues. As legislators we have been on the front lines with our offices receiving hundreds of calls. The system the Governor inherited from former Governor Scott was clearly deficient, but nine weeks is more than enough time to straighten it out and Governor DeSantis needs to fix the system, stop obfuscating, and pay the claims now!” – Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach)

“In times of crisis, Floridians should be able to look to their elected officials to understand their struggles and help them. As we move to re-open our state’s economy, my email inbox is still flooded with people asking for assistance. How can we continue to ask them to serve us before we have served them?” – Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)

“We owe it to our constituents to do all we can to help them during this crisis. It's time for the Legislature to come back to Tallahassee and fix this broken unemployment system that has left hundreds of thousands of Floridians devastated financially as they have been unable to access the benefits they have earned. I hope our leaders will step up and do what's right.” – Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando)