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Action Alert - January 8, 2024

Updated: Feb 6

What's Ahead: 2024 Legislative Session

The 2024 Legislative Session opens tomorrow (Tuesday, January 9th). Lawmakers in the GOP-dominated body, have 60 days to pass a budget and consider other bills. Last year, the legislature approved a rash of laws promoted by Governor Ron DeSantis that effectively de-funded public schools, advanced his "anti-woke" agenda, further limited access to reproductive health care, established burdensome requirements on groups registering voters, and handed him a pile of discretionary funds to use in advancing his political priorities. 

What can we expect this year? Join us for a BAM meeting on Thursday (January 11th)  at 7 p.m. via ZOOM as we hear an amazing speaker and legislative advocate, Holly Bullard, chief strategy and development officer for the Florida Policy Institute. Holly will share insights on where the legislature is headed in the 2024 session, the priorities her organization is working on, and provide advice on how we can impact the issues we care about. Please make sure to RSVP for the meeting here to get the meeting link. 

Governor's Budget: More of the Same

Governor DeSantis provided the legislature with his proposed $114.4 billion budget for 2024-25 in December, and, according to Florida Watch, it looks like more of the same. Some highlights from their analysis:

His budget also includes funding for property tax cuts, as well as additional support for key environmental projects, including Everglades Restoration and efforts to address sea level rise. In a nod to animal lovers, the Governor is also proposing the elimination of taxes on pet meds, in addition to continuing numerous sales tax holidays.

According to Florida Watch, under the Governor's funding plan, Florida would continue to rank 48th nationally in average teacher pay and 43rd in per-pupil funding, while an additional $350 million would be diverted to private corporate schools. The state’s prison system will remain in crisis with requests for additional staffing from members of the National Guard. The advocacy group notes much more is needed to directly impact the rising costs hitting the pocketbooks of workers, seniors, and students throughout the state.

The Legislature is not obligated to adopt the Governor's budget but we expect, like last year, the final state budget adopted by lawmakers will include most of what he wants.


Bans Off Our Books Rally Tonight

Education advocacy groups will rally tonight (Monday, January 8th) at 5:30 p.m. before the Duval County School Board meeting to voice their opposition to continued book banning in 2024. Event organizers, including Public School Defenders 904Ward, Families for Strong Public Schools, Rebel Readers, Moms Rising, Equality Florida, and Freedom to Read Project, are encouraging people to join them in demonstrating community support of the freedom to read. The rally and board meeting will be held at 1701 Prudential Drive. At 6 p.m., representatives will speak at the school board meeting. You can sign up to participate here. A reminder If you want to speak to the board, sign in to get a blue card before 6:20 pm.


MLK Events: Join Us for Unity Breakfast & Parade

The annual breakfast to honor Dr. Martin Luther King is Friday, January 12. The event, organized jointly this year by the City of Jacksonville and the NAACP, begins at 7 a.m. at the Prime Osborne Convention Center. BAM and Jax NOW are sharing a table at the breakfast and we still have open seats!  Email us if you would like to attend. We'll be carpooling from the Beach!  

We are also planning to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Day parade on Monday, January 15. This year's theme is "Jacksonville: United Against Hate and Gun Violence."  The parade begins at 10 a.m. and proceeds from Lot J at Everbank Field to the Prime Osbourne Convention Center. We'll carpool from the Beach and join other groups assembling at Lot J around 10:45 a.m.  Email us if you would like to be a part of this inspiring community event!

BAM, Indivisible Mandarin Awarded GROW Grant

BAM and Indivisible Mandarin received $2,500 in funding from national Indivisible to expand their collaboration and voter outreach activities for the 2024 election. The grant, awarded under the Grassroots Organizing Wins (GROW) initiative, will build the capacity of the two groups and support projects like joint meetings, an online voter guide, GOTV and voter outreach material, and a spring summit to create momentum going into the November Presidential election. Stay tuned for ways you can get involved!

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Only 302 days until the 2024 election!

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