© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida legislature leaders target healthcare access and social media crackdown ahead of session

A general view of the Old Capitol and current Florida Capitol buildings Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Sears/AP
FR170567 AP
A general view of the Old Capitol and current Florida Capitol buildings Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 in Tallahassee, Fla.


Florida’s legislative leaders are laying out their priorities for the upcoming lawmaking session. House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo are in their final year of leadership and, at the top of their agendas are expanding healthcare access and cracking down on social media.

Renner has his sights set on building out the legislature’s efforts to protect kids online. A growing body of research shows the dangers of unchecked social media — from mental health problems to bullying to exposure to pornography, and internet addiction.

“We gotta think about kids. We tell them they can’t drink until they’re 18, they can’t smoke until they’re 18, they can’t get tattoos or earrings without their parents’ consent, all of these things. But an 8-year-old kid can get online and see pornography with an adult and an 8-year-old kid. That doesn’t make sense. How do we let happen?” Renner said during a recent address to the Capital City Tiger Bay club.

Renner said he doesn't believe in the government getting in the way, but the time has come to intercede when it comes to social media.

“We have to regulate social media in a meaningful way cause our kids’ lives depend on it," he told reporters.

That focus on kids, and by extension, their families is something Senate President Kathleen Passidomo is also leaning into. During a recent discussion with reporters, Passidomo built upon growing the state’s healthcare workforce. The state’s population continues to climb, but its healthcare workers aren’t keeping pace with the demographic changes.

"It doesn’t matter if you have insurance or don’t have insurance," she said, "if we don’t have enough people to see you, it’s not going to make a difference. So our whole goal is to make sure we have enough healthcare practitioners so that every citizen, every resident of our state has the opportunity to have effective, efficient, and economical healthcare.”  

Part of the plan for encouraging that efficiency is by backing innovation. That’s where Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell comes in. She’s pitching a council that would fall under the Florida Department of Health and would have the ability to issue loans. $75 million a year, for the next decade.:

“That would be $750 million into this load fund. Now this council will have a great deal of responsibility. It’s going to go around the state and hold meetings, hear new ideas…it then will really…recognize those innovative ideas," Harrell said.

Renner and Passidomo’s full plans will be unveiled before the legislature when lawmakers reconvene in Tallahassee in January.
Copyright 2023 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Lynn Hatter has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative.
More On This Topic