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During an emergency such as a hurricane or a public health crisis, there is not only a need to focus planning and response efforts on disability-specific aspects of the emergency, but also to seek the input and expertise of people with disabilities in the process. If elected, how would your office work to ensure that state emergency planning (i.e., health testing, sheltering and safety of congregate living populations, et cetera) is inclusive of Florida’s disability communities? How will you work to ensure that communications and other information from the state is accessible to people with disabilities?

Since disabilities can be mental or physical, it would be impossible with respect to address them all. I don't have to recreate the wheel, I can review existing processes are reviewed, updated and are inclusive. I think coordination with the ADA for input would be appreciated, and results dessiminted appropriately.

In the event that the global pandemic lasts through the current school year or possibly beyond, how would you work with state educational officials to ensure that relevant state and federal educational guarantees for students with disabilities are adhered to, and do you believe that it is possible to appropriately educate students with disabilities remotely or through virtual education?

Wow that's a really good question. I don't know that I could offer any Guarantees. A global pandemic Means nothing is the same, things will have to change and while virtual learning is the new normal right now it may not be the best for students with disabilities. Do I think virtual learning is the best for them no not personally, however maybe a modified learning program could be put in place to help in the interim. Even if it's a 1 to 2 hour one-on-one session for each student. I don't have all the answers but I would be open to suggestions from others.

In recent years, the state legislature has devoted much attention to the issue of mental health service delivery and crisis response systems in state public schools. In your opinion, how should the state work to ensure that the mental health needs of its students are met, and what reforms are needed to provide adequate mental health and crisis response services in our schools? When, if ever, is it appropriate for schools to initiate involuntary examinations for its students under the Florida Mental Health Act (“the Baker Act”)?

I would rather see schools implement mental health counseling programs as opposed to the automatic Baker Act of children in our school system.

It has become apparent that COVID-19 spreads most easily in institutional and congregate living arrangements. If elected, how would you work to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities and reduce other forms of congregate living in favor of serving persons with disabilities in their own homes or the community both during and after the current pandemic? What will you do to ensure that people with psychiatric disabilities are afforded the services they need to succeed in their own homes and communities and avoid psychiatric hospitalization?

I would be doing a great disservice to a large group of people if I attempted to answer such a question of such magnitude with just one answer. There is no 1 right or wrong answer. This situation requires multi levels and layers, And is not one size fits all.

Even before the pandemic began and massive job losses ensued, 2.7 million Floridians were uninsured. Research shows that under normal circumstances the uninsured have much greater challenges accessing health care, and these disparities are exacerbated during a health crisis. Do you support expanding the state’s Medicaid program to cover adults (19-64) with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to provide more than 800,000 Floridians with coverage? Why or why not? Do you support proposals to utilize a “block grant” or “per capita cap” approach to contain Medicaid spending? Why or why not?

I believe that we do need to expand the medicaid program for all Floridians. I do not approve of the block Grant or the per capita Grant I think both of those will do a disservice for everyone in the program. If I break my arm it will cost me a certain amount but if you have a heart attack you may actually exceed your Max cap on medical treatment. Who will pay the difference? Will they not treat you if you are going to go over your maximum amount for the month or for the year?

Despite the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and related state and federal laws, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities continues to be much higher than that of people without disabilities. If elected, how would you work to promote meaningful opportunities for supported employment and competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities in the state? What policies do you advocate to support the academic and career success of students with disabilities, especially for students from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds?

If elected I would support all opportunities that are within the purview of my office. The ADA has many programs on how to receive accommodations in the workplace and where to find internships, jobs and support that I can and will support.

Nationwide it is believed that there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities who are incarcerated, and many of these individuals face substantial barriers to reentry when they complete their sentences and return home. What reforms do you support to ensure that returning citizens with disabilities have the resources, skills and mental health supports to succeed when they complete their sentences?

I believe that it is the right of all returning citizens to be able to succeed in employment once they have completed their sentences. I don't know at this time what I will have the capability of doing but it is definitely something I will be looking into in the future. This is a problem and program that does need to be addressed not just for some, but for all.

What is your experience working with people with disabilities or alongside disability-led organizations? Please provide examples of your experience addressing and responding to disability issues or describing disability advocacy efforts you have participated in either personally, professionally, or while in elected office if applicable. If elected, how would you integrate the input and perspectives of people with disabilities in your office’s planning and legislative efforts?

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