State Rep. Kristin Jacobs gives legislative update

State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, visited Pompano recently as the guest speaker for the North Broward Democratic Club.

Jacobs, a former Broward County Commissioner, has spoken to the club every year for the last several years, but this was her first time visiting as a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

“I was a little unprepared for the partisanship that’s there,” Jacobs said, referring to Tallahassee.

She recounted how on the first day of freshman legislator training her rules chairman joked, “We kill more bills around here based on personality than we ever do on substance.”

“The ability to work with others and find your way around Tallahassee is a really important part of getting stuff done,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs was in Tallahassee for the special session of the legislature. The House and Senate are tasked with passing a state budget to avoid a shutdown of the state government.

One of the healthcare bills that passed the House that could be discussed at the special session has to do with telemedicine, which involves the use of technology to offer healthcare at a distance.

“I’m very dubious of telemedicine,” Jacobs said. “It is the beginning, in my opinion, of the kind of medical treatment that the poor are going to get, a doctor who is on television.”

Jacobs is known for her passion for environmental issues. As a member of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Committee, she is helping to oversee how the state will use the money coming in after the 2014 ballot initiative known as “Amendment 1.”

Amendment 1 dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.

Environmentalists are currently putting pressure on the state to use Amendment 1 dollars to purchase land on the south side of Lake Okeechobee. The environmentalists see the purchase of the land as vital to preserving the Everglades.

Jacobs said she does not agree that most pollution flowing into the Everglades is coming from the south side of Lake Okeechobee. Instead, she said, most pollution is coming from agriculture on the north side of the lake.

She also said that the use of septic-tank systems in the state, especially when they are decades old and leaking, is contributing to fish kills and collapsing ecosystems.

“Solving the [environmental] problem in the state and using Amendment 1 dollars is not just about buying land,” she said. “It is about protecting our springs. It is about a lot of the work that’s in these bills to slow down the pollution on the north side of the lake so it doesn’t find its way into the lake and find itself in our estuaries both on the east and west side of the lake, so it’s a complicated issue.”

Coconut Creek Vice Mayor Mikkie Belvedere attended the North Broward Democratic Club meeting and asked Jacobs about natural gas fracking in Florida. Right now there are no laws dealing with it.

A bill regulating natural-gas fracking will return in the next regular session of the legislature, Jacobs said.

“Every day that goes and there is no bill out there, there are no rules in place,” she said. “Anyone can do anything.”

Belvedere said she is happy that Jacobs is so passionate about the environment because the city of Coconut Creek shares that passion.

“She’s a marvelous speaker,” said Joanne Goodwin, president of the North Broward Democratic Club. “I’ve learned a lot about the environmental issues in South Florida and all over the country because of Kristin.”

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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