Experienced. From the community. A fighter for us.

  • published End Corporate Welfare in Issues 2020-09-30 18:06:07 -0400

    End Corporate Welfare

    Funding affordable housing, paying our teachers, fixing the healthcare system, and more are all serious problems facing Florida today. And solving these problems means dedicating money and resources towards doing so. This becomes difficult when Florida’s corporations refuse to pay their fair share, and worse yet when lawmakers in Tallahassee allow them to do so. During Carlos’ time in office, the legislature has continually put the interests of corporations before that of the people. They offer tax cuts and loopholes that do nothing but increase corporate profits while leaving the issues facing actual Floridians unaddressed and solutions unfunded. That’s why Carlos has helped lead the charge to end corporate welfare and has put people first at every turn.

    Fighting Corporate Handouts during COVID-19

    COVID-19 has wrecked the Florida economy and destroyed lives; small businesses across the state have struggled to survive and thousands of Floridians have lost their jobs. But in the midst of this emergency, the Florida government didn't work to protect these vulnerable groups. Instead, they offered $543 million in corporate tax refunds to to the top 1% of Florida businesses who didn't need it. Carlos has publicly called on Governor Ron DeSantis to redirect support for giant corporations instead towards small businesses and everyday people.

    “Governor Ron DeSantis sent out $543 million in refunds to the top 1% of corporations. We should be using that to help small businesses NOT giant corporations!" - Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, April 2020

    Carlos even proposed an amendment that would have diverted the entire $543 million towards replenishing the Sadowksi Affordable Housing Fund instead -- a major goal of his work in promoting affordable housing throughout Florida.

    Another significant fight surrounding the tax breaks was a $6 million tax break for giant rental car companies like Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. This despite the fact many of these companies have seen record profits in the past year. As Carlos pointed out, that money could instead be used to hire 120 new teachers for Florida's public schools. This is why he fought hard to have this section of the bill repealed. 

    "I’m reading a headline that says Avis Car Rental stock SKYROCKETS! Best December!' It doesn’t seem like these rental car companies are struggling. Can you please explain to me why we're giving them a $2 MILLION tax break?" - Carlos Guillermo Smith, March 2020

    Fighting Corporate Handouts in Orange County

    Carlos isn’t afraid to stand up to his fellow party members when it comes to corporate giveaways, either. Back in his home district, Carlos is a vocal critic of tax breaks proposed by Orange County and its Democratic Mayor Jerry Demmings. Orange County leadership has often considered millions in tax breaks for giant corporations such as Universal Orlando, and Carlos has consistently pressured them into rejecting such proposals. Instead, he advocates for devoting the funds towards solving issues such as the county’s dire lack of affordable housing.

    Orange County leadership has also been pressured by corporations into expanding their Convention Center. The Convention Center is already one of the largest structures on earth, and Carlos argued that expanding it should take a back seat to more pressing matters such as the COVID pandemic. This pressure has seemed to work as, for the time being, the expansion has been halted.


  • published Puerto Rico in Issues 2020-09-21 20:29:03 -0400

    Puerto Rico

    The past decade has been challenging for the people of Puerto Rico. The territory is still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria and an ongoing debt crisis continues to wreck the island’s economy. Worst of all, Boricuas have received little help from lawmakers in D.C. or Florida. While of Peruvian descent himself, Carlos cares deeply for the Puerto Rican community and that's why he has used his position to advocate for Boricuas in Central Florida and the people on the island. It was for this advocacy that Carlos was honored with the Felisa Rincón Public Service Award by the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in 2018 and the Fiambrera Award at Puerto Rico Day in the Capitol in 2020!

    Supporting Puerto Ricans on the island

    After Hurricane Maria, thousands of Boricuas poured into Florida seeking better conditions. Faced with this emergency, Carlos helped lead a humanitarian effort to send supplies to the island. Soon after, Carlos travelled to Ponce, PR to help deliver humanitarian aid and tour devastation on he island in an effort to raise awareness for the disaster and increase public support for additional help.  Instead, he worked hard to connect them with disaster relief resources and social services like public schools.

    "Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, has recruited volunteers for the effort and launched an event Saturday at noon — Orlando United for Puerto Rico — at the community center. There, survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre and family members of the dead will come together to help victims of the disaster. Within 24 hours of Smith's announcement on Facebook, the event had been shared 1,700 times and had 240 people signed up to help." Orlando Sentinel, 9/26/17

    A special moment of solidarity was Carlos’s trip to the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Carlos saw firsthand the challenges the people were facing and was able to share with them the love and support his community back home was sending their way.

    With Carlos's in-laws living on the island, he returns often to spend time with family and even one year after Maria, continued to share what he saw to underscore the continuing need for relief. In 2018, CBS reporter David Begnaud even elevated Carlos's observations in an effort to send help to areas still overlooked by the Puerto Rican Government. 

    Supporting Evacuees in Central Florida

    Once thousands of Puerto Rican evacuees arrived in Orlando, their number one issue became affordable housing. Florida was already home to some of the country’s worst affordable housing crises before the hurricane, making it hard for evacuees to find permanent places to live. Carlos had already proven himself to be a fierce advocate for affordable housing and used that experience to pressure the state leaders to implement bold housing solutions. 

    When the legislature finally did return to session, Carlos proposed a bill to endorsed Puerto Rican licenses and certifications. This would have permitted vulnerable evacuees to quickly resume their old jobs here in Florida. Not only would this allow them to begin providing for their families, but it also would have filled key job shortages throughout the state. Another bill would have provided funds for evacuee mental health services.

    In the legislature, Carlos proposed and passed HR 8047: a recognition of friendship between Florida and Puerto Rico. This resolution showed the Puerto Rican community that Florida was dedicated to welcoming and assisting its neighbor.

    But most commonly, Carlos uses his platform to bring awareness to the problems facing the island and its evacuees. This encourages followers to donate money and supplies to the recovery efforts while generating support for further government action.

    Holding Trump accountable For Puerto Rico

    But standing with Puerto Rico means more than just showing up and waving a flag. Real allies have to be willing challenge those who represent a threat to the island and its people. That’s exactly what Carlos has done, taking on everyone from President Trump to former Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Donald Trump has been the most prolific of these attackers as he has been actively hostile towards the Puerto Rican community ever since his botched Hurricane Maria response. Carlos has found this “leadership” unacceptable and uses his position to demand more from the president.

    "His response to Puerto Rico reeks of RACISM. He treats Puerto Ricans the same way he treats Spanish-speaking immigrants. Like dirt. Like garbage" - Carlos Guillermo Smith, Huffington Post 

    Carlos has even been working to remove Trump by teaming up with the Joe Biden campaign. Biden hopes to show Boricuas that he can help them much better than Trump has. Carlos agrees, which is why he has been a vocal supporter of Biden's in the Puerto Rican community.

    Yet Trump is not the only threat to the Puerto Rican community. Carlos has also gone after Congress for failing to address the Puerto Rican debt crisis, Candidate for Florida Governor Jeff Greene for profiting off of Puerto Rican debt, and former Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló for his corruption and homophobia. If this seems like a lot for a state representative from Orlando to take on, you’d be correct. Unfortunately, the Puerto Rican community has been denied substantial power in government for years. As Carlos says, “If we don’t stand up for them, no one will.

    Economic Equality for Puerto Rico

    While Carlos personally supports statehood for the island, he also understands that this decision can only be made by the people of Puerto Rico. In the meantime, Puerto Ricans deserve a fair shot at success. 60% of the island has access to healthcare through Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage. Cuts to these programs will have a catastrophic effect on Puerto Rico’s economy.  It's time for Washington to stop holding them back by ending the unequal funding of Medicaid and Medicare to people on the island AND by offering Puerto Rico and its creditors full debt restructuring options available under the United States Bankruptcy Code. 


  • published LGBTQ Equality in Issues 2020-09-21 15:37:55 -0400

    LGBTQ Equality

    *Carlos is proudly endorsed by Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign!

    A respected civil rights leader nationally known as a champion for LGBTQ equality

    Carlos has dedicated his life to defending civil rights for Black and Brown communities, women, immigrants, LGBTQ and the disabled. Decades ago, when politicians began attacking the civil rights and liberties of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ people began organizing and demanding a seat at the table so that we ourselves could stand up and fight back against these attack. As an openly LGBTQ person, Carlos understands why that LGBTQ representation matters. That's why he has been a vocal champion in fighting for fair and equal treatment of all individuals under the law, including LGBTQ Floridians. He also understands that Florida's LGBTQ community cannot enjoy full equality while people are still struggling under hateful forces of systemic racism, white supremacy, and HIV stigma and that it is our responsibility to act against those forces. 

     

    In January 2015, Florida became the first state in the South to win marriage equality even before the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the freedom to marry for all Americans. During the summer of 2020, the SCOTUS handed down another transformational ruling in the Bostock v. Clayton County case which affirmed that gay and transgender workers were protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination amongst other prohibited forms of discrimination. The right-wing backlash that usually comes as a result of victories for our community has been real and sustained as hundreds of anti-LGBT bills were filed in legislatures across the country in the last several years. 

    Ending discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians in Housing and Public Accommodations

    While the Bostock ruling made anti-LGBTQ discrimination illegal in the workplace, our work to prohibit this type of discrimination in other areas of Florida law remains critical. That's why Carlos consistently championed the Florida Competitive Workforce which codify's the Bostock ruling on employment and goes further to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians in housing and public accommodations. This bipartisan legislation enjoys broad support in the Florida House and Senate, but has been denied a committee hearing year after year by a handful of powerful GOP leaders. After working on this bill for nearly a decade, Carlos is committed to passing this legislation during his service in the legislature and to making sure LGBTQ Floridians are protected from discrimination everywhere in state law where sex discrimination is prohibited. 

    Expanding Florida's hate crimes law to include the transgender community

    Carlos has co-sponsored legislation to strengthen and expand Florida's hate crimes law include protections for the transgender community, especially since Florida has led the nation in the murders of transgender women, namely Black transgender women. Carlos has also called for better reporting of hate crimes data in Florida and better training for law enforcement officers which will help ensure better reporting of statistics to help us full understand the hate violence happening in our state.

    Protecting LGBTQ youth

    Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive and meet their fullest potential. For LGBTQ youth that includes a supportive and affirming educational environment based on unconditional love and acceptance of the child for who they are. Unfortunately, right-wing politicians have attacked transgender youth, even introducing legislation during the 2020 session to criminalize doctors with up to 15 years in prison for providing life-saving healthcare for transgender youth. Carlos was proud to join parents, trans youth, medical professionals and advocates to defeat this legislation in 2020

    In 2020, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found at least 83 private schools funded by vouchers had policies that expressly discriminated against LGBTQ students and LGBTQ families. These private schools must be held to higher standards and should be required to open their doors to every student-- including LGBTQ children. In the meantime, we will continue to use our platform to push for transparency and accountability at private schools funded with taxpayer resources. 


  • published Funding for Arts & Culture in Issues 2020-09-21 12:45:15 -0400

    Funding for Arts & Culture

    *Carlos has been celebrated and honored by the Florida Cultural Alliance and the Florida Alliance for Arts Education for his work to increase arts and culture funding in the State of Florida! 

    Carlos delivers on arts and culture funding

    In 2018, hundreds of non-profit organizations were devastated when the legislature slashed the arts and culture grant program by 90% from $25 million in 2017 down to $2.7 million. As a lifelong supporter of the arts, Carlos jumped into action with Rep. Anna V. Eskamani to raise public awareness on the importance of government investment in the arts and embarked on a sustained statewide effort to boost funding. On 1/15/19, Carlos and Anna hosted a public town hall to address the legislature's devastating cuts and create a unified call to action to reverse the trend. The result: The 2019-2020 state budget saw an 800% increase to 480 arts and culture groups across Florida! 

    During the 2019 legislative session, Carlos consistently met with community stakeholders, legislators and budget leaders to make funding for the arts a priority. His work paid off and a diverse number of non-profit organizations directly benefited from his advocacy. 

    "After embracing arts and cultural funding as their personal priority issues this winter, Democratic state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani are cheering the proposed 2020 state budget for including $21 million for competitive arts and cultural grants programs, eight times as much as the current spending plan." -Florida Politics, 5/2/19

    During the 2020 legislative session, Carlos got back to work to protect funding from the arts he helped secure in the previous budget year. The result was the arts and culture grants were essentially held harmless compared to the previous year's funding. While the ultimate goal is to fully fund the grant program, advocates were pleased to see funding levels stayed at about the same level as 2019.


  • published Affordable Housing & Renter's Rights in Issues 2020-09-18 14:21:23 -0400

    Affordable Housing & Renter's Rights

    "[Carlos Guillermo Smith has] been one of the more vocal Democratic representatives fighting for affordable housing,"

    -News 6 WKMG, March 2020

    Central Florida is currently in the midst of one of the worst affordable housing crises in the United States. Housing prices have skyrocketed in recent decades while the development of low-priced housing has stagnated. The result is thousands of low-wage families struggling to find the money to live in the cities they call home. As Carlos often puts it, “Floridians can’t afford Florida,” and that’s unacceptable. That’s why he’s fought tirelessly in the legislature to fully fund the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, expand renter’s rights, and give cities the tools they need to enact local solutions. In 2020, his efforts paid off when the legislature fully funded the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust fund. 

    “Affordable housing is a HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS facing our state, and Florida’s renters have the highest rent burden in the nation,”

    -Carlos Guillermo Smith, WMFE 1/30/20

    Funding Affordable Housing

    Florida doesn’t need to go looking for revenue to fund affordable housing. The Sadowski Trust Fund is supposed to be a dedicated funding source from taxes on real estate transactions. It is intended to guarantee state spending on affordable housing, help low-income families get down-payments on loans, and incentivize developers to build housing people can actually afford. Unfortunately, lawmakers rarely leave the fund untouched. Instead they raid (or "sweep") the money for unrelated causes, over Carlos's repeated objections. The legislature's 2020 decision to leave the Sadowski fund intact came after years of political pressure that Carlos helped create. 

    During the 2020 legislative session, Carlos introduced an amendment to divert $543 million in unnecessary corporate income tax refunds towards the affordable housing fund. Carlos considered this unacceptable and proposed an amendment that would instead use that $543 million to replenish the Sadowski fund.

    Another possible source of affordable housing funds is the tourist development tax, also known as TDT. Although well-funded special interests and tourism executives oppose the use of TDT for affordable housing, Carlos disrupted the status quo and began calling for more flexibility on TDT spending. Historically, these resources have been almost exclusively used for tourism marketing and convention center construction. But Carlos believes it's past time look for new ways to address Central Florida's affordable housing crisis. 

    “We have to be more flexible in how tourist development tax money is spent,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando. "Central Florida’s $75 billion tourism industry was built on the backs of tourism workers who need affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. There is a crisis on both of those fronts. Everything should be on the table to address these crises.”

    -Orlando Sentinel, 1/9/20

    Rent Control and Local Solutions

    While Carlos is pushing the state to do everything it can to fund affordable housing, he knows that it won’t be enough to solve the issue. The severity of Florida’s housing crises, especially Central Florida’s, will require the attention of every level of leadership. That’s why he has worked hard to put solutions back into the hands of local government. The most important of these solutions is rent control. In times of emergency, cities need the power to control rent and cap housing costs in order to protect their citizens. Yet the state currently bans them from doing this for effective periods of time. In 2019, Carlos co-sponsored HB 6053 to remove this preemption to return local control on the issue. Carlos has also co-sponsoring legislation that allows counties to collect taxes to finance their own affordable housing initiatives. These funds would work much like the Sadowski Fund does at the state level, with the added precision local governments can bring to their home counties. 

    Carlos has encouraged the work of local affordable housing taskforces as well. In 2019, he met with the Orange County Housing for All Taskforce to discuss solutions for his home district. The taskforce ended up providing a plan to encourage affordable housing development through new zoning laws, strategic development bonuses, and more.

    Protecting Renters' Rights

    Yet affordable housing development is only half the battle. Even when Floridians find a place they may be able to afford, their desperate need for housing leaves them at the power of their landlords. This often leads to predatory tactics that make the housing process even more difficult for renters. For example, some landlords in Central Florida have charged families over $100 just to apply for a unit and then refuse to refund application fees when units are unavailable. That's why he proposed legislation and championed what's been called the "Bill of Renter's Rights." This bill would level the playing field between renter's and landlords while freeing Florida's citizens to find the housing they need. 

    "State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, reintroduced a bill this year that would set up some protections for renters, including restricting the reasons for which landlords can evict tenants, preventing landlords from charging excessive application fees and requiring them to refund fees when no units are available. It would also require landlords to provide leases and eviction notices in tenants’ preferred language, give tenants three months of notice before raising rents more than 5% and prohibit landlords from turning away applicants because they receive federal housing vouchers." -Orlando Sentinel, 12/26/19

    One particularly dangerous situation would be a time of state emergency. Whether that's a hurricane or COVID-19, Floridians have enough to worry about besides being kicked out of their homes for reasons beyond their control. That's why Carlos made sure to include protections for such situations in his legislation; under the Bill of Renter's Rights, times of emergency would trigger automatic eviction and foreclosure moratoriums. 

    Affordable Student Housing

    Housing insecurity is a major issue for college students in East Orlando and across Florida as well. That's why Carlos has championed affordable student housing as a top priority.

    COVID-19 created new and frustrating housing challenges for students living or planning to live in off-campus housing. As university classes moved to online instruction and the pandemic turned campuses into ghost towns, many students vacated their apartments to stay at home safely with their parents. In April, Carlos began hearing from students and parents desperate for protection from corporate landlords who refused early lease terminations due to COVID-19 and threatened students to pay up. As always, Carlos stepped in to become their champion! 

    During this pandemic, corporate landlords at off-campus student housing properties have continued to engage in predatory practices to take advantage of students stuck in leases they no longer need. We will continue to urge Governor Desantis to take executive action to help these students and encourage landlords and property managers to be flexible with students who cannot pay due to COVID-19.


  • published Better Healthcare in Issues 2020-09-14 22:04:13 -0400

    Better Healthcare

    Over the past year, the rise of COVID-19 has revealed the important role lawmakers play in keeping citizens healthy and safe. Carlos has always taken this role very seriously, which is why it was no surprise he became one of the most vocal proponents of public safety measures when COVID first began to spread. But Carlos understands the government’s commitment to keeping citizens healthy cannot start and end with one disease. Floridians face many more threats every day – from HIV to outrageous medical bills – that our leaders should be doing everything in their power to fight.

    Fighting Disease

    The affects COVID-19 have had on Florida are heartbreaking. Thousands have lost their jobs and struggled to receive unemployment benefits, small businesses have faced falling profits with little relief from the government, and we’ve all had to sacrifice our normal ways of life. But worst of all, over 12,000 of our fellow Floridians have died. Carlos finds this unacceptable, which is why he has been a vocal proponent for public safety measures designed to stop COVID’s spread. These measures have included increased transparency in state reporting, mask mandates, mandatory sick leave, and business/beach closings. Beating COVID is an effort that requires everyone to buy in, and Carlos has led the charge of encouraging just that from the government and everyday people alike.

    (For COVID-19 resources, visit this page)

    Unfortunately, COVID isn’t the only disease Floridians need to worry about. The state has been plagued by one of the worst HIV epidemics in the US as well. Throughout his time in office, Carlos has also shown himself to be one of the most passionate advocates for HIV prevention and care. In 2017, Carlos proposed a bill which would have prohibited the increase of copayments and deductibles if the policyholder were diagnosed with HIV. Such a ban would have helped the thousands of Floridians struggling with HIV afford care and stop the disease’s progression. In 2018, Carlos co-sponsored the HIV Prevention Justice Act which would have made the sexual transmission of HIV without first warning one’s partner a crime.

    Carlos also co-sponsored a bill in 2019 that allowed county commissions to operate needle exchange programs. These programs allow drug users to exchange their dirty needles for clean ones, eliminating the need to share them and spread HIV.

    But Carlos’ HIV advocacy goes beyond the Florida House chambers. For instance, Carlos has been a leading advocate for comprehensive sex education. It is vital for children to learn the dangers of STD transmission and the importance of practicing safe sex to keep them from spreading diseases such as HIV later on. But limited sex education, like those in Florida that stress abstinence, can leave kids under-prepared. Carlos hopes that his advocacy can help encourage schools to adopt smarter methods.

    Carlos has also been a very vocal promoter of HIV prevention medications such as PrEp. For those at risk of contracting HIV, PrEp can reduce the risk of transmission by over 70%. Carlos often uses his platform to increase awareness of PrEp and even negotiated with Publix to get PrEp covered on its employees’ health insurance plans. It was this success that helped earn him the 2018 Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Legislative Leadership Award.

    Healthcare Reform

    In October of 2015, Carlos started the “Minimum Wage Challenge.” The challenge was simple: survive off of $85/week just like every other Floridian living on minimum wage. Carlos lasted four days. And this wasn’t because he had a weak resolve; he didn’t cave and go to Starbucks. Instead, he was faced with the choice thousands of low-payed Floridians are faced with every day: afford healthcare or put food on the table. Carlos suffers from Acquired Hypothyroidism, meaning he needs expensive medication every week in order to produce crucial hormones; medication that people living on minimum wage just can’t afford. Carlos believes healthcare is a human right, that no person should have to suffer because they can’t afford expensive coverage or medication. This experience showed him just how out of reach that right is for many people, especially in a state like Florida that has one of the highest rates of uninsured adults in the US.

    Carlos’ most ambitious attempt in this effort was co-sponsoring the Healthy Florida Program. Under this plan, every Floridians’ essential healthcare costs would be completely taken care of by the program. And notice that key word: every. This system would accomplish universal coverage and guarantee healthcare as a human right here in Florida. It would also save most families money, lower drug costs, help small businesses compete, improve every citizen’s care, and more

    But Florida doesn’t need to create its own health coverage program to start covering more citizens today. In fact, it doesn’t even need to spend its own money. In 2010, the passage of the Affordable Care Act extended to states the option of using federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs. Florida has since resisted on partisan grounds, despite the ability to extend coverage to over 800,000 more of their citizens at no cost. Carlos found this decision reprehensible and has since become a leading voice demanding Medicaid expansion in Florida. He even joined his fellow democratic lawmakers to demand a special session to pass the Medicaid expansion during the height of COVID-19.

    Remembering his difficulty completing the Minimum Wage Challenge, Carlos has also emerged as an outspoken leader in the effort to control skyrocketing drug costs. He often advocates for low prices set by the state, as is done in other developed nations. This issue became particularly relevant in March 2019 when Republican lawmakers unveiled their new plan for lowering drug costs: importing Canadian drugs. Carlos was quick to remind them why Canadian drugs are cheaper:

    He has also co-sponsored many bills in the legislature to reduce costs further and aid particularly vulnerable Floridians. For example, Carlos co-sponsored a bill which would have prohibited insurance practices that increase the costs of prescription drugs such as spread pricing, rebating, and more; another bill attempted to cap the costs of insulin.

    Children’s Health

    It’s not only adults that struggle to get the care they need in Florida’s healthcare system. Children too face many medical difficulties for which the state offers little help. This can present even larger issues as quality healthcare is essential for children’s healthy development. Carlos believes no kid deserves to be left behind, and that’s why he has co-sponsored and supported many bills in the House to make sure kids get proper care that sets them up for a healthy future.

    The first of these was an appropriation Carlos co-sponsored in 2017 to fund the Department of Health’s Auditory-Oral Early Intervention Program For Children With Hearing Loss. Similarly, in 2019 Carlos co-sponsored a bill to require insurance companies to cover children’s hearing aids.

    Carlos has also co-sponsored legislation aimed at protecting newborns. One such bill would have required insurance policies to cover eye tests after birth while another would have established a Maternal Mortality Taskforce to find solutions for situations involving complications during birth.

    Another set of bills would have protected children’s health in schools. These bills would have required students be vaccinated for HPV, school administrators use de-escalation strategies  when dealing with mentally ill students, and Florida Universities equip their campuses with EpiPens.

    Carlos is also has been a fierce defender of transgender children’s medical rights. Last session, a bill was proposed to make it a felony for a doctor to prescribe hormone therapy or perform gender reassignment surgery on children. Carlos immediately attacked it and helped lead the charge to kill the bill.

    Community Programs

    Carlos understands that the state isn’t the only institution that is working to keep Floridians healthy. Hundreds of community programs across Florida are doing amazing work, and Carlos has fought hard to help fund these valuable organizations. Examples of these community programs include the PTSD rehabilitation clinic "UCF Restores" and "Two Spirit Health Services" – an organization dedicated to providing health service to those affected by the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Moving forward you can be sure Carlos will continue to find and support programs improving the health of our communities.


  • published Criminal Justice, Police & Prison Reform in Issues 2020-09-07 19:48:36 -0400

    Criminal Justice, Police & Prison Reform

    This past summer, the police shootings of many innocent black Americans brought the issue of police reform to the forefront of the political landscape. People took to the streets to make their voices heard and fight for change. Since his election in 2016, Carlos has been on the side of justice for those impacted by systemic racism, police brutality, and a broken criminal justice system. 

    Sentencing Reforms

    The first step in creating a well-functioning criminal justice system is making sure that the rules which determine sentences and punishments are fair and equitable. That’s why Carlos was first to introduce legislation to fully decriminalize cannabis possession while has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown Floridians. He’s also co-sponsored legislation to reduce minimum sentencing requirements, abolish the death penalty, and ban the arrest of children under the age of 12.

    Stand Your Ground Laws

    Carlos passionately found to reform or repeal our state's deadly stand your ground laws. These laws increase the rate of gun violence in communities and can empower people to act violently on their own racial or implicit biases. That is why Carlos voted AGAINST SB 128 in 2017: a bill which shifted the burden of proof from the shooter to prosecutors and gave stand your ground shooters much more leniency in court and has continued fighting against these laws, even co-sponsoring legislation to require shooters first attempt to retreat potentially dangerous situations in 2020. After the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in 2018, Carlos helped lead an effort in the House to hold a special session to reform Stand Your Ground laws.

    Police Reform & Accountability

    Police officers are too often not held to strict standards on what appropriate use of excessive force entails, and even if they blatantly break the rules, investigators tend to look the other way. Our courts, too, are set up to protect police officers rather than hold them accountable.

    Carlos supports a number of bold state-level reforms which include: reforming or repealing sovereign immunity; creating specific criminal offenses for excessive or unauthorized use of force, creating a statewide database to track use of force incidents; requiring all use of force fatalities be investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and much more. 

    Carlos also understands that reducing instances of excessive use of force will require more than just reform. That’s why Carlos has supports delegating certain police responsibilities over to social workers in non-violent situations. Carlos believes an officer with a gun is not needed to handle every societal problem, such as intervening in non-violent mental health crises, interacting with the homeless or dealing with a child temper tantrum in our schools. Instead, our communities would be better served by sending trained mental health and social work professionals better equipped to handle these situations.

    Carlos also understands his responsibility as an elected leader to ask questions and apply pressure to local law enforcement when necessary. That's why Carlos has never been afraid to publicly demand transparency or accountability when the actions of law enforcement are in question

    "Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said he watched the video and found it disturbing, and a clear example of an excessive use of force."

    "It’s especially insulting given the context, which is that all of these protests are against police brutality, then they actually inflicted [that] upon this young woman,” Smith said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a really bad look for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

     

      

    Prison Reform

    In 2019, Carlos went on a series of unannounced visits to prisons across the state. What he found were terrible, inhumane conditions. Many inmates spoke of the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse they received at the hands of the corrections officers; inmates had no A/C (including pregnant women) to protect them from Florida’s summer heat; and inmates were often given less than 5 minutes to eat their meals. The poor and inhumane conditions he discovered compelled him to expose the state of our prisons and to rally support for comprehensive prison reform efforts. As the result of a 2019 visit to Lowell, Carlos was also able to get A/C restored for pregnant inmates at that facility. 

    Many of these reform efforts have focused on the health and safety of female inmates. During the 2019 legislative session, Carlos co-sponsored and helped the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act. This bill required prisons to provide female inmates with necessary health products and added requirements to male officers’ interactions with the residents. These requirements included banning them from conducting body searches and from being in areas where the women undress. Carlos built on this success in the 2020 session by co-sponsoring and helping pass a bill to protect pregnant inmates. This act barred prisons from placing pregnant inmates in restrictive housing without consent and required specific medical treatment for such inmates. No person deserves to be abused or neglected treatment, which is why Carlos fought so hard for these reforms.

    But it is not only incarcerated women who suffer in Florida’s prisons. Men, women, and even children all suffer from many of the same injustices. That’s why Carlos co-sponsored HB 531 in 2020: a bill which would have created a list of basic rights every inmate is entitled to. Many of these rights corresponded to the issues Carlos witnessed firsthand on his visits through the prison system. It would have required staff to treat all inmates with fairness and decency, necessitated proper ventilation in all prisons, and given inmates at least 20 minutes to eat their meals.

    Another benefit of HB 531 was that it would have required prisons to offer inmates educational programs – another issue on which Carlos has been vocal. Educational programs help inmates prepare for life outside of prison which reduces their need to return to crime upon their release, reducing recidivism. A similar bill Carlos co-sponsored in 2020 was HB 189. Currently, inmates that display good conduct can receive up to a 15% reduction on their sentence. This incentivizes inmates to develop healthy behavior and keep prisons safe while allowing rehabilitated inmates to restart their lives sooner. All of these benefits help inmates re-enter society when released and therefore reduce recidivism as well. HB 189 would have risen the gain-time cap to 35% of an inmates sentence – increasing these benefits. Gain time has benefits for taxpayers, too, as this bill was projected to save Floridians $860 million in reduced prison spending.

    Unfortunately neither HB 531 nor HB 189 passed and Carlos’ fight for inmate’s rights and recovery continues. Yet there were two prison reform bills Carlos co-sponsored in 2020 where he found success. The first established a Citizens Oversight Council within the Department of Corrections. This council was given authority to make unannounced visits to Florida prisons, speak with inmates, and report problems to the DOC. While this council wasn’t given the ability to interfere with a prison’s operations, the oversight it adds to the system will hopefully encourage prisons to provide better treatment to their inmates. The last bill forbade juveniles from being held in the same facilities as adults. When juvenile inmates are held with adults, they are often at increased risk of abuse and can develop bad habits from other inmates. This bill ensured that children are protected in Florida’s prisons as well.

    Finally, Carlos has been a vocal watchdog of the prison system’s response to COVID-19. Disease can spread rapidly in prisons where thousands of inmates are grouped closely together and medical support can be poor. A prime example of this is hepatitis C: before the pandemic one-fifth of the Florida prison population was estimated to suffer from hepatitis C. That’s why the legislature passed a $28 million bill to support prisons efforts to combat hepatitis and coronavirus last session. Unfortunately, Governor DeSantis cut this funding – a move Carlos opposed vehemently. Since then, Carlos has been a leading voice in the demands for transparency from the prison system and increased safety measures for inmates.


  • published Protecting Our Environment in Issues 2020-09-03 11:19:32 -0400

    Protecting Our Environment

    *Sierra Club Florida has ENDORSED Carlos Guillermo Smith! 

    Every year, Sierra Club Florida releases a scorecard on how environmentally friendly each representative’s voting record is. This year, Carlos was honored as an Award Winner for his work protecting Florida’s wildlife and ecosystems, fighting climate change, and defending home rule. Carlos is also proudly endorsed for re-election by the Sierra Club.

    "For voters keeping score, the Central Florida lawmakers who earned top marks included Democrats Anna Eskamani, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Joy Goff-Marcil and Geraldine Thompson."

    -Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel, 5/20/20

    Save Split Oak, Vote YES on Orange County Amendment 2 

    Carlos has emerged as a voice in the effort to protect the Split Oak Reservation Area from the Osceola Parkway extension. Split Oak has been an important part of Central Florida preservation efforts for over 20 years and allowing the extension would destroy much of what has been accomplished.

    This November, residents of Central Florida will have the choice to protect this forest in perpetuity by voting YES on Amendment 2

    Protecting Florida’s Wildlife & Ecosystems

    A native Floridian, Carlos takes great pride in the beautiful lakes, forests, and wetlands of the state. He also understands the vital role wildlife and ecosystem conservation plays in preserving the health of Florida and its citizens. That’s why he’s committed to protecting them from threats like development, pollution, and more.

    In 2019, Carlos voted AGAINST legislation which would begin planning new toll roads through rural Florida. This plan would destroy thousands of miles of natural land and sever corridors between conservations – both of which would be detrimental to the survival of many of Florida’s most endangered species. It would also lead to the pollution of many wetlands and springs, increase CO2 emissions, and destroy rural communities. (Learn more here.) Carlos has also opposed legislation which would allow oil and gas pipelines through conservation areas. Such development would disturb wildlife living there while increasing the risk of environmental disasters.

    Carlos also pushes for increased land conservation efforts. He has fought to fully finance land acquisition funds in the Florida budget which would allow the state to buy and preserve crucial conservation areas. He also co-sponsored legislation that became law in 2019 to establish the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area in 2018.

    As a major advocate against everyday practices that threaten Florida’s wildlife and ecosystems, Carlos has co-sponsored legislation to ban fracking in our state. Fracking releases dangerous chemicals which can make their way through air and groundwater to threaten nearby ecosystems. Carlos has been very active in the campaign to ban fracking in orange county and throughout the state.

    Every day, Floridians use thousands of plastic bags to transport everything from clothes to groceries. Many of these plastic bags end up polluting Florida’s beaches, waterways, and more – where they never fully decompose. That’s why Carlos has been vocal in pressuring Publix to end their use of plastic bags, with hopes that more corporations throughout the state would follow suit, and has co-sponsored legislation to give cities and counties local control on the ability to regulate plastic bags in their communities. 

    Fighting Climate Change

    Carlos understands that Climate Change is one of the most dangerous threats currently facing our country and especially the state of Florida. Rising sea levels that threaten millions in coastal property, severe hurricanes that put lives in danger, and more hot summer days that hurt health and agriculture are waiting ahead if we cannot reduce man-made air pollution. That is why Carlos advocates for policies aimed at reducing Florida’s emissions and transitioning to clean, renewable energy.

    The largest problem standing in the way of this goal is that many lawmakers in Florida don’t believe in reality of man-made climate change or its severity. That is why Carlos has been extremely vocal about calling out these lawmakers and promoting the truth. He even co-sponsored legislation which would have created an Office of Climate and Resiliency Research: a program which would have analyzed the effects and costs of climate change on Florida and inevitably encouraged lawmakers to take it more seriously.

    In 2020, Carlos co-sponsored two bold policies bringing climate change and its solutions to the forefront of Florida politics while encouraging renewable energy use. The first would have required utility companies to make clean energy more available to consumers, while the second would have converted Florida to 100% renewable energy production by 2050. Combined, these two policies would have enabled Florida to drastically reduce its emissions. Carlos will continue speaking the truth and pushing to curb Florida’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Defending Home Rule

    Carlos believes local governments often know what’s best for their communities and the ecosystems that surround them. That’s why he has consistently fought against preemptions Republicans have attempted to place on Florida’s cities. Two such preemptions are those that would have barred cities from regulating plastic straws and sunscreens. Plastic straws are one of the most common forms of plastic pollution, and certain sunscreens contain chemicals that destroy coral reefs. As both of these products can be extremely damaging to local ecosystems, local governments deserve the ability to oversee them. That’s why Carlos spoke out against this "knee-jerk" pre-emption on local control. 


  • published COVID-19: Fix Florida Unemployment in Issues 2020-08-29 16:55:48 -0400

    Carlos Guillermo Smith-- a leading voice for Floridians struggling to obtain unemployment benefits during COVID-19

    Carlos Guillermo Smith-- a leading voice for Floridians struggling to obtain unemployment benefits during COVID-19

    Since the very beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Carlos was a leading voice for Floridians struggling to obtain unemployment benefits from the state. His efforts helped hundreds of applicants obtain critical payments of state and federal benefits while leading statewide calls for major reforms to Florida's unemployment system early in the crisis. 

    Floridians praise Carlos for help with unemployment when they need him most

    Florida's 'designed to fail' unemployment program needs reform

    After immediately stepping in to provide support to those unable to navigate the state's broken unemployment website, Carlos began putting public pressure on Governor Ron DeSantis to expand DEO's capacity to quickly process claims to get Floridians paid their benefits. 

    During the first several months of the coronavirus crisis, Carlos repeatedly contacted the DeSantis administration and appeared on television, radio and in newspapers to draw attention to the frustrations of Floridians struggling to get help from DEO with their unemployment claims for weeks and sometimes months at a time. 

    Carlos also called for a special legislative session to send lawmakers back to Tallahassee to fix the unemployment fiasco and reform the program already known as one of the worst in the nation. Reform proposals included expanding eligibility from 12 up to 26 weeks, increasing the $275 weekly benefit to at least $400 and reducing onerous eligibility requirements meant to exclude and discourage people from applying.

    Congress must act to extend federal unemployment benefits to our most vulnerable during COVID-19

    Carlos has repeatedly called on Congressional leaders to extend the $600 federal unemployment benefits, which expired in July, and has called on Governor Ron DeSantis to apply for additional relief as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on our economy. These critical safety net programs must be funded to help Floridians put food on the table and keep the lights on to support their families during this recession. 

    Need help with your unemployment claim?

    CLICK HERE to request help from Rep. Smith's legislative office


  • published UCF & Higher Ed in Issues 2020-08-23 19:08:33 -0400

    Carlos Guillermo Smith-- proud UCF Knight, a voice for college students and champion for Higher Education in Florida

    *Carlos is proud to have earned the endorsement of United Faculty of Florida which represents faculty and professors across the state! 

    Bright Futures/Sunshine Scholarship

    Carlos graduated from UCF in 2003 and himself understands how important access to scholarships and financial aide is to students who may not otherwise be able to afford college or a university. Bright Futures helped Carlos pay for tuition at UCF-- without it he wouldn't be where is today.

    Nothing would do more to bring opportunity to young men and women in Florida than to make affordable college education at public universities available to everyone. It’s that simple. But access to higher education is not a reality for too many of Florida's working families. The legislature's failure to invest in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program is part of the problem.

    In 2009, Republicans in Tallahassee slashed Bright Futures scholarships in half. In the first year after the cuts, 47% of Latino freshmen and 62% of Black freshmen were no longer eligible for Bright Futures. Funding has increased some since then, but too many students are excluded since the legislature has refused to realign ACT/SAT requirements back to what they were before 2009. As a freshman lawmaker, Carlos introduced the 'Restore Our Bright Futures Act', which dramatically expanded the number of eligible students for Bright Futures and increased reimbursement for Medallion and Academic scholars. Though the bill did not pass as originally written, parts of the bill become law, including the enactment of 100% tuition reimbursement for Academic scholars.

    In 2020, Carlos co-sponsored legislation to create the needs-based 'Sunshine Scholarship' Program, which would fully cover tuition and fees for Florida resident students who pursue associate degrees or career certificates at state colleges or career centers operated by school districts and maintain full-time enrollment with a 2.5 GPA. Proposals like these move Florida families towards debt-free college solutions and will help put an end to the crushing burden of student loan debt that afflicts moms and dads, and their sons or daughters. 

    Student Equity: Financial Aid for DACA/TPS Students

    During the 2019 and 2020 session, Carlos introduced new legislation extending Bright Futures and state-based scholarships for Dreamers and TPS students. Carlos believes it is in our state's best interest to help these students succeed-- NOT create obstacles to their academic achievement. Undocumented students who graduate from high schools in Florida already receive in-state tuition rates thanks to a law passed by the legislature in 2014. Approximately 27,000 DACA recipients and 45,000 TPS holders who legally reside in Florida deserve a fair and equal chance at an affordable college education. That's why student government associations across Florida, including UCF SGA, identified Carlos's bill as a legislative priority and travelled to Tallahassee to lobby for its passage

    Affordable Student Housing

    Housing insecurity is a major issue for college students in East Orlando and across Florida. That's why Carlos has championed affordable housing as a top priority. Thanks to Carlos's advocacy, the legislature fully funded the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust fund for the first time in decades in 2020. 

    COVID-19 created new and frustrating housing challenges for students living or planning to live in off-campus housing. As university classes moved to online instruction and the pandemic turned campuses into ghost towns, many students vacated their apartments to stay at home safely with their parents. In April, Carlos began hearing from students and parents desperate for protection from corporate landlords who refused early lease terminations due to COVID-19 and threatened students to pay up. As always, Carlos stepped in to become their champion! 

    During this pandemic, corporate landlords at off-campus student housing properties have continued to engage in predatory practices to take advantage of students stuck in leases they no longer need. We will continue to urge Governor Desantis to take executive action to help these students and encourage landlords and property managers to be flexible with students who cannot pay due to COVID-19. 

    Carlos delivers for UCF Restores!

    Since his election in 2016, Carlos has delivered a total of $3 million in funding (from appropriations bills he introduced) to UCF Restores PTSD clinic to expand their program and to provide direct services to veterans, first responders and mass shooting survivors from Pulse and Parkland struggling with PTSD. We are proud of Dr. Deborah Beidel and of the work her and her team do every day to help those with PTSD. 

    Make it easier for students to vote!

    After years of pleading with university leaders and elections officials to do so, in 2018 Carlos helped secure an official Early Voting location on campus at UCF so that students, professors and faculty could easily and conveniently exercise their right to vote. Carlos has long believed that university leaders should encourage student participation in elections to help establish an early sense of civic responsibility in young people. In the last election, Carlos even led a UCF march to the polls with Senator Bernie Sanders!

    Defending our Knights

    In 2019, Republican lawmakers weaponized the misappropriation of funds for UCF's Trevor Colbourn Hall, as an excuse to attack our university. One GOP lawmaker even threatened to shut UCF down for 5-10 years! As a member of the Higher Education Appropriations Committee and as a proud UCF Knight, Carlos defended our campus community (who had nothing to do with spending problems) and he refused to take these attacks on his alma mater. Watch video of Carlos responding to shutdown threats on UCF.

    Fee Waivers for Graduate Students

    Too many graduate assistants are living in poverty in part because they pay exorbitant fees for the privilege of working for and teaching at a university. In 2020, Carlos co-introduced legislation to require that universities waive 'student fees' for a graduate student with a 0.25 full-time equivalent appointment or greater as a graduate assistant, graduate research assistant, graduate teaching assistant, graduate research associate, or graduate teaching associate.

    Honoring Eternal Knights Taken at Pulse Nightclub

    In partnership with UCF and artists Michael Pilato and Yuriy Karabash, Carlos played a direct role in helping to commission a permanent mural to memorialize Christopher (Drew) Leinonen and Juan Ramon Guerrero, UCF Knights who were killed during the attack at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. The on-campus mural outside the student union is a powerful tribute to their memories and a reminder that love can always wins. 

    Keep Guns off College Campus

    Even before his election to the Florida House in 2016, Carlos had been a leader for common sense gun safety laws. That's why he has continued to OPPOSE legislative efforts to allow students to carry guns on college campuses. 

    The police chiefs and university presidents of all 12 of Florida's universities oppose campus carry. They oppose it because they know concealed weapons would make Florida's college and university campuses less safe.

    College campuses along with bars, schools, courthouses, polling places, airports and athletic events are all places where concealed weapons in Florida are banned.....and for good reason. Students today deal with high stakes academic pressure, combined with the increased risk of suicide, and widespread drug and alcohol abuse. Adding deadly weapons to the mix can have disastrous consequences. 

    Concealed-weapon permit holders in Florida are not required to undergo extensive training and therefore lack the skills to prevent a mass shooting. In fact, they are more likely to shoot innocent bystanders than is law enforcement, making these situations even more volatile and dangerous. 

    Access to guns will also result in more fatal suicide attempts. Making firearms readily available to college students makes it likely that more of the 24,000 unsuccessful suicide attempts each year will instead be fatal. 


  • published Safer, Stronger Public Schools in Issues 2020-08-23 12:49:35 -0400

    Orange Teachers ENDORSE Carlos G. Smith-- a champion for Safer, Stronger Public Schools

    *Carlos is proud to be ENDORSED by the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association and our statewide teacher's union FEA!

    “I’m gonna make sure that our VETERAN TEACHERS are represented as part of the conversation [on teacher pay increases]." -Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, October 2019

    A graduate himself of our Florida public schools, Carlos is committed to making sure schools have the resources they need to provide all students a quality education. Carlos has been a champion of school safety, especially in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas that shook Florida and our nation to its core. He has helped increase mental health funding in our schools, called for more youth-specific deescalation training of SRO's and spoken out against the unnecessary use of Baker Acts on children in schools. In 2020, Carlos was part of a successful legislative effort led by House Democrats to include pre-school teachers in a $500 million teacher pay increase, but is committed to continue advocating for veteran teacher pay increases that were left unfunded by the legislature.

    Carlos named 2020 Florida PTA Legislator of the Year!

    Here's what Florida PTA's Legislation Chair, Dr. Danielle Thomas had to say about the recognition:

    "Representative Smith has been a longtime supporter of children’s safety, in particular a champion for gun safety. He has also continued to be a champion for the health and wellbeing of all of our youth, especially our LGBTQ youth."

    COVID-19 and school re-opening

    Decisions on how or when to re-open our public schools during a pandemic are difficult and complex. But those decisions should be made locally, in consultation with health professionals and without political interference or intimidation from Tallahassee. I supported the OCPS board decision to seek a waiver from the state’s mandate for face-to-face instruction to resume in August.

    As high numbers of new Orange County COVID-19 cases continued to be reported along with high positivity rates, in my opinion, its prevalence in our community appeared too high for students, teachers or classified employees to safely return to brick and mortar schools in August 2020. We all want what is best for our kids, including some of our most vulnerable who remain disadvantaged by distance learning, who cannot afford to fall behind and who must return to brick and mortar schools as soon as safely possible.

    Carlos joins OCPS School Board member Johanna Lopez to answer questions from parents on school re-opening

    Tallahassee must allow local school boards to make local decisions in the best interests of their communities. Until we fully understand the academic and emotional impact that COVID has had on our students, the state must hold our kids, teachers and schools harmless from standardized testing for at least one academic year. I will continue to urge Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio to pass the HEROES Act, which will send billions in additional funding to public schools to keep our students, teachers and communities safer from COVID-19. 

    Education Privatization is NOT working 

    Jeb Bush's failed education policies have saddled Florida taxpayers for the last 20 years. Unaccountable charter schools run by for-profit charter management companies eat-up taxpayer money, have very little oversight, and continue to enrich developers and politicians in their favor. Florida spends $1 billion in taxpayer money annually on various private school voucher programs. These dollars fund both religious and non-religious schools, many with little to no educational standards. In 2020, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found at least 83 private schools funded by vouchers had policies that expressly discriminated against LGBTQ students and LGBTQ families.

    The steady increase in state spending on private school voucher entitlements has diverted resources and essentially defunded our public schools. They must be reigned in, held to higher standards and should be required to open their doors to every student-- including LGBTQ children. In the meantime, we will continue to use our platform to push for transparency and accountability at private schools funded with taxpayer resources. 

    Standardized testing fairness for English Language Learners

    Approximately 265,000 Florida public school students are still learning to speak English, and are consistently denied the opportunity to take standardized tests in their native language by the Florida Department of Education. The goal for these students has always been to learn English, but forcing them to take high-stakes examinations in a language they do not understand is unfair and counterproductive to the student's academic progress. That's why Carlos co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in 2020 to allow English language learners the opportunity to take standardized tests in their native language and he will continue to reach across the aisle to build momentum behind passage of this important legislation.

    "HB 515, has been filed in the House, sponsored by Republicans Vance Aloupis of Miami and Ana Maria Rodriguez of Doral, and is backed by Democrats Susan Valdes of Tampa and Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando. All together, they make up a formidable team." -Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald Opinion Writer


  • published COVID-19 Resources 2020-08-22 13:22:45 -0400

    COVID-19 Resources

    Protecting workers’ rights, guaranteeing quality healthcare, taking care of our most vulnerable, and supporting small businesses should always be amongst the top priorities of our government. COVID-19 has made these priorities event more urgent. That's why I'm committed to bold policy solutions that help Floridians who need it most during this pandemic. 

    Check out the links below for critical local COVID-19 resources:

    Find a COVID-19 Testing Site

    Orange County Government COVID-19 Resource Page

    Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Resource Page

    City of Orlando COVID-19 Resource Page

     

    Need help with your unemployment claim?

    CLICK HERE to request help from Rep. Smith's legislative office


  • published Cannabis Reform in Issues 2020-08-21 23:31:24 -0400

    Carlos Guillermo Smith's bold record leading Cannabis Reform efforts in Florida

    Carlos Guillermo Smith is a proven champion for cannabis reform and an authentic voice for medical cannabis patients statewide!

    Make Medical Cannabis Affordable

    In 2016, 71% of Florida voters overwhelming approved Amendment 2 legalizing medical cannabis in our state. Afterwards, Republicans in the legislature passed an implementing law that created a cartel-like system which led to monopolies for big cannabis industry players and prohibited small businesses from entering the cannabis economy. 

    Florida's medical cannabis patients often face high prices and out-of-pocket costs to maintain legal patient status for themselves or for their child as caretakers in the program.

    Carlos believes Florida should move away from the 'vertical integration' system and towards a free-market industry where small and minority-owned businesses can compete. Patients will see lower prices and better products as a result. Rep. Smith has fought for lower costs by cutting the $75 patient ID fee and fought to waive fees for veterans in the medical cannabis program. More info here.

    Carlos has championed medical cannabis as an alternative to prescription opiates for certain patients and has opposed efforts to impose arbitrary THC caps on products. As the law was implemented in 2017, he helped secure the opening of cannabis dispensaries in Orange County. Carlos also helped to repeal the ban on smoked medical cannabis in 2019.

    Legalize Cannabis for Adult-Use

    Prohibition never works and the marijuana prohibition has incarcerated generations of Black and brown people and cost taxpayers billions. Carlos supports full legalization of cannabis for adult use and has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Jeff Brandes to do it in Florida. 

    There's no question that our criminal justice system is broken and in need of serious reforms. Florida's antiquated marijuana possession laws are not only costing us money, but they are ruining lives and unnecessarily filling up our state prison system. That's why Rep. Smith introduced bills to fully decriminalize cannabis in 2017 and 2018 as well as introduced bills to legalize it for adult use in 2019 and 2020.


  • published Women's Rights in Issues 2020-08-21 21:32:11 -0400

    Carlos Guillermo Smith-- a champion for women's healthcare, abortion access and EQUAL pay

    READ: Carlos's Op-Ed in Florida Politics on why men should stand up to protect legal access to abortion. 

     

    Fighting to Defend Reproductive Rights

    Reproductive rights are under attack in the Florida legislature, and have been ever since Republicans took over as the majority party. Personal medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by politicians in Tallahassee or Washington. Carlos opposes any legislation meant to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to access a safe and legal abortion. 

    WATCH Carlos On YouTube

    Check out Carlos' January 2016 op-ed on the intersection of LGBTQ and reproductive rights.

    To reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, Florida should replace abstinence-only sex education in our public schools with practical and comprehensive and inclusive curriculums. We should support women’s healthcare clinics and organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide free or low-cost contraception to people who need it.

    WATCH Carlos On YouTube

    "When a vulnerable young woman decides to have an abortion...it should be safe, affordable, and free from punishment or judgment from ANYONE." -Carlos Guillermo Smith

     

    Equal Rights Amendment and Equal Pay

    Carlos has co-sponsored legislation to finally pass the ERA in Florida and has co-sponsored legislation to guarantee equal work for equal pay for women, who on average make $.85 for every dollar made by white men in Florida. 


  • published Join Team Carlos 2020-09-01 00:17:04 -0400

  • published Issues 2016-04-10 09:37:17 -0400

  • SIGN THE PETITION: Citizen co-sponsor the "Pay Floridians a Living Wage Act"

    24 signatures

    Florida’s minimum wage currently stands at a meager $8.05 per hour due to failed leadership in Tallahassee. More than ½ of all black workers and more than 60% of Hispanic workers make less than $15 per hour. In Orlando, nearly 40% of all workers are paid less than $25,000 annually. A statewide living wage will put more money in hard working people’s pockets where they’ll spend it, grow the economy and create jobs. It saves taxpayers from subsidizing low wages with food stamps, Medicaid, and low-income housing. Add your name to become a citizen co-sponsor.

    Add signature

Carlos Smith

Carlos Smith

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FL's first LGBTQ Latinx legislator. FL House District 49. He/him/él. Good husband, brother, son, + favorite guncle. https://t.co/AZvFIYjcKn
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