Miami Beach Democratic Rep. Michael Grieco started the 2022 Legislative Session with a roster of bold payments he believed had the potential to unite lawmakers no matter political affiliation.
Then he filed to problem Republican Miami Sen. Ileana Garcia this November. After that, he mentioned, most of these payments had been all however doomed.
“When I filed to run for state Senate, you could take all my bills and put them in the dumpster,” he advised Florida Politics. “The moment I announced that I would be seeking to unseat ‘illegitimate Ileana,’ my subsequent bills and any appropriations of note that I had my name on were going to die on the vine.”
While it turned out that prediction was somewhat correct by and enormous, Grieco nonetheless loved some wins.
Among them: HB 1469, which is able to influence residents in and round Grieco’s House district by honoring the 98 lives misplaced within the Champlain Towers South rental collapse in Surfside.
The invoice (HB 1469) renames a stretch of Collins Avenue between 87th Terrace and 88th Street “98 Points of Light Way.” It was the one standalone street-renaming merchandise of the 12 months.
Grieco mentioned House Speaker Chris Sprowls requested him to hold it.
“This very tragic event impacted not only my constituents but (Rep.) Joe Geller’s constituents and beyond,” Grieco mentioned. “The Police Chief of North Bay Village, which is one of the areas I represent, his mother passed in the collapse. I was there many, many days along with Sen. (Jason) Pizzo.”
Another success was HB 435, which flew by means of the three House committees to which it was assigned earlier than stalling on the Senate flooring. Fortunately, its language was absorbed into a bigger sexual cybercrimes invoice by Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book and Republican Rep. Joe Harding that the Legislature authorised March 8.
Grieco’s portion of the invoice, which heightens penalties for sexual abuses of animals, got here in response to the disturbing story of an Aventura veterinarian who, amongst different issues, recorded himself having intercourse with canine and sharing them on social media.
A Miami federal courtroom finally sentenced the person to 22 years in jail, however that sentencing was largely on account of different crimes.
“He essentially couldn’t be prosecuted at the state level because it’s only a misdemeanor, so they prosecuted him federally,” Grieco mentioned. “We wanted to put some teeth into state law to make sure we put an end to this type of animal abuse and these types of disgusting internet videos.”
The invoice, upon receiving Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, will improve the extent of offense for intercourse acts on animals from a misdemeanor to a felony, create a brand new offense for creating movies of the acts and make jail time obligatory even for first-time offenders.
“The Humane Society could not be happier,” Grieco mentioned.
Asked which payments he plans to resurrect subsequent 12 months, Grieco’s fast reply was HB 781, a measure referred to as “Greyson’s Law” after 4-year-old Greyson Kessler, who was killed by his father in a murder-suicide in May 2021.
Greyson’s mom, Alison Kessler, had repeatedly tried to achieve unique custody of Greyson to guard him from what she knew had been rising threats to his security, however at each flip, courts dominated towards her motions till it was too late.
“No one believed me,” she advised Florida Politics in December. “Family courts right now are just so archaic.”
Had it handed, the invoice would have expanded the definition of home violence by establishing a connection between home violence between adults and the abuse of kids. The rationale, Grieco mentioned, is easy: If an individual is prepared to threaten or commit home violence towards their associate, which will have some bearing on their health as a father or mother.
The invoice would additionally add language to state statutes concerning coercive management, a nonphysical means by which abusers exert energy over their companions by means of monetary and psychological means.
HB 781 obtained no listening to within the House. Its Senate companion by Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman cleared one committee earlier than stalling out.
Grieco, a lawyer in personal life, chalked the invoice’s poor efficiency this 12 months to his Senate run and having “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
“Everybody had an opinion, whether it was staff or the Florida Bar,” he mentioned. “It just didn’t get the momentum it needed, but I’m confident that if I’m on the Senate side, that we’re going to get it to move. And I’ll find a good House sponsor who can help me with it.”
Then there was HB 819, which might require landlords in Florida to supply air con to tenants. State legislation now solely requires such lodging for heating.
Neither Grieco’s invoice nor its Senate companion, which Pizzo carried, noticed a single listening to.
“It’s a no-brainer, winner-winner-chicken-dinner bill,” Greico mentioned of the measure. “It’s such low-hanging fruit — nonpartisan.”
Likely a bit extra controversial, HB 193 would have ordered the Department of Health and Board of Medicine to check the choice therapeutic purposes of psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA in treating despair, persistent ache and a bunch of psychological maladies.
In August, the Food and Drug Administration authorised the usage of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” in a drug trial for treatment-resistant despair.
However, the invoice, which Grieco admits to having plagiarized from laws that’s now legislation in Texas, obtained no listening to within the House. Its Senate twin by Book noticed an analogous destiny.
“Feel free to Texas my Florida on this one,” Greico mentioned. “All we’re asking is for them to send it to the universities and say, ‘Let’s study this.’”
Grieco additionally plans to convey again a invoice he most just lately filed for the 2021 Legislative Session (HB 63) that will require each public college to have bleed management kits. The kits, also referred to as emergency trauma packs, are a type of first assist package that embrace trauma dressing, gauze, chest seals, coagulation materials and tourniquets to assist cease severe bleeding.
In February, each public college in Miami Beach obtained “Stop the Bleed” kits — one thing Grieco mentioned he had a hand in making occur.
“I helped get them into our feeder pattern, and they’ve got them in every classroom in our high schools,” he mentioned. “I also have the American College of Surgeons who are willing to train the entire state for free to get these in all the schools.”
One new invoice Grieco plans to file subsequent Session would safeguard girls from having their DNA used towards them following a sexual assault.
In February, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin went public with claims that California crime labs had been utilizing DNA from sexual assault survivors to research unrelated crimes — an “opaque practice,” in Bodin’s phrases, that advocates mentioned may make victims of rape much less prepared to come back ahead.
“I would consider either running a standalone piece of legislation or making sure that it was included in some sort of criminal justice package to ensure that law enforcement would not be able to violate a woman’s privacy by using her own DNA in a rape kit and potentially prosecute her for some unrelated crime,” Grieco mentioned.
Grieco mentioned the Legislature “dropped the ball” this final Session on rental reform, a manifestly pressing challenge within the wake of Surfside. He’ll file a invoice to handle that, he added, in addition to associated issues like property insurance coverage.
“A lot of the issues I want to address are nonpartisan issues, and they shouldn’t be ignored just because a Democrat wants to be their champion,” he mentioned. “If Republicans don’t want to carry water on property insurance, condo reform and condo safety, and if they want to continue with these red meat, culture war bills going into next year, they’re going to find me standing directly in their way.”
A self-described average Democrat, Grieco contends that almost all of voters could be hard-pressed to determine which political get together he belongs to solely primarily based on his legislative and voting file.
But regardless of that, or maybe due to it, he mentioned, a lot of the GOP is afraid of him and legislators like him, together with Book, Pizzo and West Park Sen. Shevrin Jones.
“We’re reasonable, moderate, sharp and good at debating, and I think we scare the crap out of them because we represent our party pretty damn well not only on the Senate and House floor but out in public,” he mentioned. “When you hear issues in regards to the far-left Democrats and socialism — you’ll be able to’t name me a socialist, and also you positive as hell can’t say I’m attempting to defund the police and a bunch of different crap they’re attempting to color Democrats with.
“But I’ll be the first to run toward the fire when it comes to certain issues, especially when it comes to the LGBT community, criminal justice reform and issues like that. My reputation precedes me and is carried with me.”
Taking one other shot at his November opponent, Greico added that he’s additionally conscious of the general public and never afraid to take criticism.
“Ileana Garcia, she’s got a lot of numbers blocked — there are a lot of members of the lobbying corps whose calls go straight to voicemail and don’t get returned,” he mentioned. “She locked her door for the final month of Session, and she deleted her Twitter account.
“I took my door off the hinges during my first two years in Tallahassee.”