When the legislature passed the Sadowski Act in 1992, creating the State and Local Housing Trust Funds, and raised the documentary stamp tax, it was with the promise that the monies would be used for affordable housing.
However, over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been swept from these funds, in some cases, representing almost half of all the money in the fund. Kathleen has since filed legislation that would have prohibited the legislature from sweeping these funds and protect affordable housing in our state.
She is committed to pursuing every effort to stop the sweep of the housing trust funds so they may be used for the purposes intended in the 1992 legislation. That’s why she received the Champion of Housing Award in 2018 from the Florida Home Builders Association and the Florida Realtors Legislative Champion Award in 2017.
In 2018, Kathleen was instrumental in the passage of a property tax abatement for individuals who lost their homes due to disasters like hurricanes. This ensured that Floridians who lost their homes due to no fault of their own did not risk losing the property over tax payments.
As a mother of three daughters that graduated from Collier County Public Schools, Kathleen knows that parents and local school boards, not bureaucrats, know what’s best for students. That’s why she led the 2013 effort to give school districts more flexibility to choose the most effective strategies to close student achievement gaps. Kathleen believes in empowering parents through choice in their child’s education, including the option to attend charter or parochial schools.
She opposes federal overreach into our education system and any attempt to implement a “one size fits all” model. Kathleen has voted to place caps on student testing, roll back statewide testing, and eliminate duplicative final exams.
During the 2018 Legislative Session, Kathleen served as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education and sponsored legislation to appropriate $6 million in funding to our state’s Early Learning programs.
Kathleen has also fought to drastically increase mental health funding in schools and improve access to mental health counseling for every Florida student. As a co-sponsor of the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018, Kathleen supported reinstating full funding of the Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars award and the Medallion Scholars award at 75 percent (2018, SB4). This legislation also provides policy and funding tools state universities can leverage to recruit and retain the best faculty, continue to grow professional and graduate school viability, and modernize aging infrastructure and research laboratories.
In 2018, Kathleen sponsored SB1056 to strengthen computer science instruction and prepare Florida students for employemnt of the future. This bill provides a definition for computer science, and creates a requirement for the Florida Department of Education to identify computer science courses and to facilitate training for classroom teachers to earn an educator certificate or an industry certification in computer science. Additionally, the bill expands access to computer science by requiring middle and high schools to offer computer science courses.
Kathleen's hard work earned her the Florida School Boards Association, Legislator of the Year Award; Senator of the Year Award from the Children’s Forum; the PACE Center for Girls, Collier, Legislative Leadership Award; The Association of Early Learning Coalitions, Legislative Appreciation Award; The Education Foundation of Collier County, "Glass Slipper" Award in 2010; and the Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County, Wallace Benevolent Award in 2007.
IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH
As Chair of the PreK-12 Appropriations Committee, Kathleen conducted a workshop where she heard the concerns of school superintendents from around the state, who all emphasized the increased need to deal with mental health among our students while at school. Since that workshop, Kathleen has led the fight in the State Senate to ensure we fund crucial mental health initiatives in our schools.
During the 2018 session, Kathleen made sure the legislature included $69 million dollars in the PreK-12 budget for mental health assistance in our schools, but there is still so much to be done. Now Kathleen is working hard to ensure the funding increase that passed in SB 12 continues. It’s a critical first step for Kathleen as she works on a comprehensive program to update Florida’s system for the delivery of behavioral health services.
Senate President Passidomo's efforts were recognized by the Florida Council for Community Mental Health and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association when they awarded her the Behavioral Health Legislative Leader Award for 2018.
KEEPING OUR STREETS SAFE
A 40-year resident of Southwest Florida, keeping our community safe is one of Kathleen’s top priorities. Kathleen has cracked down on crime, voting for 50-year mandatory minimum sentences for certain sexually violent offenders (2014, HB 7027). Kathleen co-sponsored the Timely Justice Act to expedite the execution of prisoners on Death Row, bringing closure to victims and their families and saving taxpayer dollars (2013, HB 7083).
The Florida Sheriffs Organization honored Kathleen with the Friend of Sheriff Award in 2017.
PRESERVING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Kathleen knows that Florida’s economy is inextricably linked to our environment. Investments to ensure that our environment is protected for current and future generations to come, along with statewide comprehensive water policies, transform the way we conserve our most valuable natural resources. As a State Representative, Kathleen co-sponsored the Legacy Florida initiative to create an annual dedicated funding source to protect Florida’s environment by setting aside up to $200 million a year for Everglades restoration, $50 million for Florida springs, and $5 million for Lake Apopka (2016, HB 989).
Over the last six years, Kathleen helped allocate nearly $1.1 billion for Everglades restoration projects and $100 million allocated to the critical rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike. Kathleen has also worked to provide over $200 million to the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, which will attenuate the amount of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee by restoring more than 12,000 acres of wetlands. All of these projects will gradually improve the situation and reduce nutrient levels and temperature variations in our rivers.
Much attention has been given to environmental issues pertaining to water quality, Everglades restoration, Herbert Hoover Dike repair, the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project and the overdue implementation of the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration plan, all of which are underway. One significant area that has not been addressed is the seepage into the aquifer from the thousands of septic systems throughout south Florida. As the population of the state continues to grow and the septic systems age, it is imperative that the state undertake a septic to sewer program.
PROTECTING THE 2ND AMENDMENT
Kathleen has been a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and has stood up for the rights of lawful firearm owners.
Kathleen voted to ban local governments from infringing on 2nd Amendment rights (2011, HB 45), and voted to protect the rights of gun owners complying with mandatory evacuations (2015, SB90). In 2018, Kathleen helped pass the School Safety Act to make it harder for mentally ill individuals to purchase a firearm.
As Senate President, Kathleen has worked hard to get our friends and neighbors back to work. She has successfully fought to protect businesses and professionals from frivolous lawsuits, allowing them to grow and hire more Floridians. In 2013, Kathleen successfully sponsored HB 575, protecting design professionals from being personally sued while working as employees of a company.
She has voted to cut over 270 burdensome regulations and get government out of the way. Kathleen has supported many state sales tax holidays, including sponsoring SB 220 (2018) which created hurricane preparedness sales tax holidays and was passed and signed by the Governor as part of that year's tax cut package.
In 2018, Kathleen received the “Most Valuable Legislator Award” from the Florida Chamber of Commerce to honor her outstanding legislative leadership and continued support of free enterprise. Kathleen was also named a 2018 Champion for Business by the Associated Industries of Florida. She also received the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, Legislator of the Year Award in 2017; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, State Legislative Achievement Award in 2016.
SAFEGUARDING OUR SENIORS
Kathleen has been an effective and tireless advocate for Florida’s seniors. Florida is home to 5.2 million residents over age 60, and five percent of Florida residents are aged 80 or older, and elder exploitation is often called the “Crime of the 21st Century.” Kathleen has been an effective and tireless advocate for Florida’s seniors. She has successfully sponsored legislation cracking down on fraud against seniors and holding their guardians accountable (2014, HB 409).
Because of Kathleen’s efforts, scammers can no longer hide behind loopholes in the law, and Clerks of Court may audit adult guardianship accounts to ensure that legal guardians do not take advantage of those they’ve sworn to protect (2014, HB 635). For many seniors, transitioning into a retirement community isn’t as simple as selling their home and moving.
In 2018, Kathleen sponsored and passed legislation in the State Senate to strengthen the state's guardianship program and further improve protections against elder abuse by providing a quick, inexpensive mechanism for the temporary freezing of the assets of a vulnerable adult to prevent exploiters from emptying the bank accounts of our most vulnerable citizens (2018, SB 1002 and SB 1562). Kathleen also advocated for legislation to require nursing homes to acquire an alternative power source to ensure safe temperatures are maintained for all of the facility’s residents and to require facilities to implement policies to ensure residents do not suffer from heat exposure (2018, HB 7099).
Kathleen's 2020 Guardian Bill, SB 994, again increased protections for individuals under guardianships by eliminating conflicts of interest, ensuring the vulnerable adults’ finances are protected, and prohibiting a guardian from signing a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order without permission from the court.
For her work on protecting our most vulnerable citizens, Kathleen received the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, Legislative Appreciation Award and the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar, Legislative Appreciation Award in 2018; the AARP Capitol Caregiver Award in 2017; the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar, Legislator of the Year in 2014 and 2015; and the Florida Council on Aging, Advocacy Award in 2014.
STANDING UP FOR VETERANS
As the daughter of a veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, Kathleen knows that we have a responsibility to our men and women in uniform who have served our great nation. Kathleen has consistently fought and voted for legislation to make Florida the most military-friendly and veteran-friendly state in the nation. During her time in the office, the Legislature has made Florida colleges more affordable for members of our Armed Forces with military tuition assistance and by empowering colleges to implement a military fee waiver for those students.
The Legislature has also created a local business tax exemption for military members, veterans, and their spouses and eliminated fees veterans pay for a driver’s license. In 2018, Kathleen sponsored Senate Bill 1598 which created the "Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act" in Florida law which sets clear definitions and requirements for resolving child custody conflicts when a parent is a service member that is facing deployment.
Additionally, Kathleen worked with the Collier County Commission to receive Legislative and gubernatorial approval for a resolution declaring the stretch of I-75 from Mile Marker 110 to the Broward County line the “Submarine Veterans Memorial Highway.” This initiative was brought forward by the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI).
Click Here to View the Enterprise FL Guide on Florida’s Military Friendliness: https://www.enterpriseflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/Florida-Military-Friendly-Guide.pdf
BUILDING LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Kathleen continually works with local officials and community leaders to bring attention to local needs, such as the reconstruction of the Everglades City Wastewater Treatment Plant, completion of the Airglades Airport in Hendry County, the much needed stormwater repairs to the Imperial River infrastructure, and resolving the dispute between the Florida Department of Transportation and Collier County concerning the operating and maintenance costs of the fire/safety station at Mile Marker 63.
The rise in identity theft has harmed not only individuals but businesses as well. Kathleen has lead the fight to modernize Florida’s laws and give victims the tools they need to restore their rights. 2015’s HB 157 creates a streamlined process that provides victims proof of fraud and allows courts to issue orders to correct public records containing false information. The bill makes it a crime to steal the identity of a business. It also increases penalties for medical fraud and makes it a crime to knowingly provide false information to the public record. In 2018, Kathleen sponsored the Identity Theft and Fraud Protection Act which would require agencies to appropriately review information susceptible to identity theft before posting as a public record.
Kathleen has worked hard to make sure that elected officials are held to the highest ethical standards. Kathleen voted for historic ethics reforms that strengthened the prohibition on former legislators becoming lobbyists and gave the Commission on Ethics greater authority to punish those that abuse the public’s trust (2013, SB 2). During the 2017 Legislative Session, Kathleen served as chair of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, and she continues to be dedicated to ensuring elected officials are accountable to us, not special interests.
During Florida’s foreclosure crisis, Kathleen used her expertise in real estate law to reform foreclosure laws and get Florida’s real estate market back on track. She successfully sponsored legislation reducing fraud and expediting the judicial process so that borrowers in foreclosure can resolve their debts and begin to rebuild their finances (2013, HB 87). Her bill also implemented safeguards for purchasers of foreclosed homes, reducing stagnant inventory and improving the values of surrounding homes.That’s why in 2010 she received the Legal Aid Service of Collier County, Attorney of the Year Award and the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award. In 2018, she sponsored SB 220, which closed a loophole for borrowers in foreclosure dealing with state and federal courts.
PROVIDING QUALITY HEALTHCARE
Kathleen is committed to ensuring access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Floridians, but not by expanding broken systems such as Medicaid and Obamacare that rely on borrowed Federal dollars. Kathleen voted against expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, favoring a Florida-based solution that protects future generations of taxpayers from being on the hook for billions of dollars.
Kathleen co-sponsored legislation in 2018 that will confront the opioid crisis by increasing regulation, training and reporting currently required when prescribing and dispensing controlled substances (2018, HB 21). Kathleen also sponsored legislation to allow Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) centers to provide inpatient, 24-hour a day treatment to infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, providing a community-based care option, rather than hospitalization, after an infant has been stabilized (2018, SB 434). As a member of the Senate Health Care Appropriations Committee, Kathleen is working to provide more accountability of taxpayer dollars for service to our citizens.
SUPPORTING FIRST RESPONDERS
Kathleen has sponsored legislation to strengthen emergency response, including HB 801 (2012) to allow 911 public safety telecommunicators to contact private owners of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to facilitate a coronary emergency call.
In 2018, Kathleen sponsored SB 1012 in order to support a public safety center at Mile Marker 63 on Alligator Alley. The Center is located in the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve on State and Federal lands. Currently, through an inter-local agreement, the center is managed and operated by the Greater Naples Fire District with operational costs reimbursed by FDOT through tolls assessed on Alligator Alley travelers. This new location reduced emergency response times from an average of 45 minutes to 8 minutes, providing care within the “golden hours of trauma.” Annually, the Center responds to over 600 calls and in 2017, only 12% of emergency calls involving Collier County residents. The bill allowed the Florida Department of Transportation to identify a long-term dedicated funding solution for this critical emergency operation.