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How to know what's happening in Tallahassee and how to let them hear from you


There is a big difference between government and politics.

Government is how we run our country, state, county, and community. It is the process and the entity. Politics is running for the privilege to do so and arguing over how it is done between the various parties with differing opinions. Sadly, that last part, politics, is sometimes distasteful, unethical and even breaks the law that they themselves have set through the governmental part. I always wish we could stop that part. 

The government part is where YOU come into the picture.

As a Republic form of government, we elect our sitting officials to represent us, and we must give them our opinions of how we want our society to run. We didn’t send them to their seats for them to run the various levels of government as THEY see fit. 

I remember attending the 2nd Florida Citizenship Short Course in Tallahassee in August of 1975 as a mere 14-year-old. We had to stay at the FSU dorms. It was still the age of the Old Capitol building. We were required to research concepts for laws we wanted in advance, research statutes and precedence, write the bills, meet in the committee rooms with Legislators sitting over our shoulders, sit in the House chambers, debate the bills, and vote on them. My sister was the Chair of the House that year, and I had Mrs. Harrington’s seat. Leading 4-H members from all over the state participated. 

This process was so successful because many of the bills created and passed by the youth over the decades became law. You see one law enacted every day and don’t even realize it came from a CSC. That white line on the side of the road indicating the edge of the road so you don’t end up in the ditch or sand was the result of a group of Girl Scouts of America Citizenship Short Course prior to mine. The legislators only had to vote on the bills. They were already in perfect legal form and had been fully vetted. 

I also went to Washington, D.C., in 1977 as a teen leader in FFA to visit Congress, discuss and work on bills, learn international leadership skills, and witness the entire process in person. 

How do you find out what bills are in front of the Legislature this year? 

To discover a bill in front of the Florida Legislature in any year, go to the State website. Unfortunately, the current main page is not HTTPS:// secured. (Always make sure you access a page with an ‘S’ in HTTPS or behind a VPN to protect your computer or phone.) Thus, I will give you the addresses for the Senate and House separately. 



At the top left of the Senate page is Bill 2024. This week, there was an article in The Apopka Voice about CS/HB 49 and rolling back vital child labor laws. You may type ‘49’ for Bill # in case the Senate and House use the same bill number. Often, the bill numbers differ. You may also use the search box on the far-right side. 

Similarly, you may go to the House page and type ‘49’ OR type in ‘employment’ or ‘minors’ or ‘curfew’ or other terms that you think might be appropriate for a bill you are seeking. The bill link should pop up with a page of details. 

You can discover so many things about the bill here. Even the lobbyists who are pressing the legislators to pass or fail the bill. You have the ability to export the list of lobbyists. The bill information shows every action of every committee meeting and member. You can see votes, and you may ask to appear at the meeting. 

In the committee meeting records, you may even listen to the recording of the meeting so that you may hear what your legislator said regarding the bill. No secrets here in the Sunshine State. 

How do you follow the bill, legislator, and committee action?

At the top right side of the Senate home page is a SIGN-UP tab. Complete the short form. 

Upon completion, you are registered, sign in, and see yellow sunshine buttons on the bills. When you are reading a bill you want to follow, click on the SUNSHINE BUTTON. 

With a Senate Tracker account, you can track items throughout the website, view the latest updates on the Tracker tab, and receive email notifications when those items are updated.

  • House and Senate bills
  • Senate Committees and Offices
  • Senate publications and press releases

The yellow sun icon indicates an item you can track. The red sun icon indicates an item you are tracking.”

How do you voice your opinion to the Legislature?

When a bill is headed to a committee, you may want to voice your opinion to the chair, members, and legislator. Go to the Senate and House pages for that bill. 

One example is CS/HB 1: Social Media Use for Minors. It went to the Fiscal Policy Committee on 25 Feb 2024. You can either click on that link at the top of the bill page or go the Senate committee page for Fiscal Policy directly. After composing a letter in Word or notepad about your opinion, you can click on the members, select their individual contact buttons, then paste the letter to them. Each letter can be adjusted for each member. You can type directly in the contact box but it is too easy to accidentally send prematurely or make typos. It is best to type in a word processor. 

Click the Senators tab to find the President and your legislator. This is also the method to discover how to find fax numbers, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. It is important to use multiple methods of contact and to repeat your contacts when an issue is important to you to make sure your voice is heard. 

How do you voice your opinion to the Governor?

Contacting the Governor of the State of Florida is important to assure he either signs or vetoes a bill. 

His email form is at https://www.flgov.com/email-the-governor/ 

His address and telephone number:

Executive Office of Governor Ron DeSantis

400 S Monroe St

Tallahassee, FL 32399


While growing up in agriculture, we had bumper stickers that read, “Don’t complain about farmers with your mouth full.” I have felt my entire life that no one should complain about any part of government functioning or taxes if they do not participate in giving their opinion to elected or appointed officials or don’t bother to vote. 

After all, we are the government. We just appoint people to speak for us at City Hall, County Hall, State Capitol, and Washington, D.C.

Be sure to bookmark this article, print it out, or save it as a PDF so that you can refer to it each time you want to communicate with your elected officials.

Dr. Phyllis Olmstead, Tallahassee, Florida Legislature, Congress, Apopka City Council, Orange County Commission, Opinion


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