Andrew P. Apted is a political candidate for Florida State House of Representatives - District 67
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Drew's Public Campaign Announcement (3/27/19):
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
― Barack Obama
President Obama said it best, at his Super Tuesday speech on February 5th, 2008. I'm not going to wait for some other person or some other time; I will step forward unto the breach and begin my journey to seize the power necessary to facilitate change in the Sunshine State.
I have always been proud to call Florida my home. It's where I grew up and into the successful (and somewhat sun-burnt) business owner I am today. I graduated from Osceola High School in 2013. The next year, I truly planted my roots here when I opened Dharma Kava Lounge at the age of 20, on November 3rd, 2014, in my home city of Largo, in Pinellas County. The conception and flourishing growth of my business over the last five years has taught me many things about business, financial management, and efficiency. With my business' deep roots in the community, I have also had the opportunity to learn the unique struggles my community faces.
What motivates me to run for office? It's simple: Florida, our home, is suffering. Our children, families, and seniors have poor access to quality, affordable physical/mental healthcare. As a Florida business owner, I'm concerned that our state comes up short in providing other eager entrepreneurs like myself, with economic opportunity, while favoring large corporations that don't originate in our state. Perhaps what's most obviously suffering is the currently declining condition of our state's coastlines and environment, which have historically been proudly noted among the finest in the entire United States.
I believe we create a brighter future for the Sunshine State by following a path of fiscal accountability and ethical responsibility!
My campaign has a Common Sense Platform that covers issues that often go unspoken by state politicians:
- As a small business owner, working to improve economic opportunity in the state with the 5th fastest growing economy is a no-brainer! I will work from within the Florida Legislature to help protect small businesses and the people they employ. We should favor and support small/medium businesses, instead of supporting a system of corporate welfare that practically begs large corporations (often from outside the state), with massive tax breaks and concessions, to open up here.
- The facts
say that small businesses employ 42% of all private-sector Floridians (SBA) and account for 95% of companies exporting goods, making up 66% of Florida's export value (ITA). Plus, small businesses are owned by Floridians and help drive wage competition with the diversity they introduce into the local job market.
- I would introduce and support bills that would progressively raise the minimum wage in our state to a "living wage
" of at least $12 over a period of years.
- In 2009, Florida's minimum wage defaulted to the increased Federal minimum of $7.25, and since then has only gone up $1.21, to $8.46
($17,596.80 at 40/hrs weekly, before taxes). At the same time, cost of living, as reported by the Florida Department of Revenue
, has increased 19.3% since 2009, to $33,350. Without taking into account low-income quality of life adjustments (lower quality goods, roommates, etc), that's a deficit of -$15,753.20.
- If a bill was enacted in 2020 with a target year of 2026, the yearly incremental minimum wage increase would be around +$0.708/yr (assuming 5 full actionable years). This would, at the very least, allow lower bracket wage-earners to afford a decent quality of living, while bolstering the local economy by giving consumers financial breathing room to make purchases in goods/services.
Healthcare/Mental Care Reform:
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
rates Florida in the bottom 10% (48th/50) of states for overall Healthcare quality.
We're the 3rd most populated state, with the highest percentage of seniors, in the entire country, which means now more than ever, as our state's population continues to climb, that we have an obligation to provide better healthcare. Our State's Legislature should be leading the charge against these abysmal statistics, to ensure that every citizen of Florida has access to affordable, world-class healthcare!
- We rank 44th in Mental Care
, which is only going to continue to deteriorate, with State Republicans continuously slashing the budget (excluding a small increase this budget year), representing a 33% decrease in constant-dollar allotment, as indicated by a 2016 analysis presented by FSU
. Research shows that over 60%
of those suffering from mental illness in our state were unable to receive care, with the most commonly reported causes being: lack of access to care due to financial status and inability to acquire insurance/care through insurance providers.
I have a three-part plan to address these issues:
1.) Expand Medicaid in Florida, which we've failed to do year-after-year. This will allow more than 40% of the affected population to gain access to at least base-level care.
2.) Lobby the Legislature and introduce bills to address the lack of regulation surrounding patient access, lab/drug/treatment costs, and insurance coverage/uncapped rates.
3.) Re-frame and reintroduce an increased budget for Mental Care that focuses on putting patient access first, instead of profits for the increasing number of private facilities (which are partially subsidized by the state).
- Our State Legislature has allowed horrible abuses of our diverse ecosystems to take place, disguising rollbacks in regulation as economically beneficial. In reality, our beautiful environment is what drives tourism, which is the lifeblood of our tax income.
- It's time to stop spending valuable tax money on subsidies for Big Sugar, which has caused irreparable damage to Lake Okeechobee and parts of the Everglades. Companies like US Sugar and Florida Crystal need to be held accountable and penalized for the sweeping damage they've caused. With this regained budgetary allotment, we can focus on beginning to turn back the clock on the damage that's been done and prevent making it worse in the future.
- The State Legislature and Governor have allowed Oil & Gas companies to begin drilling in the Everglades, which just goes to show the influence the industry has over our politicians. This should have never been allowed and it needs to be stopped!
Energy Policy - "Power to The People as a Public Utility":
- My energy platform is directly tied into my environmental platform.
- Surveys and research
show that Florida has ample renewable power potential, both in solar and offshore wind. However, the Corporate Energy and Fossil Fuel lobbies have a vested interest in continuing to roll coal and natural gas.
- Cost-comparison models
show that it costs significantly more, in transportation/handling of fuel alone, to power our state. These models do not account for economic damage caused as a bi-product of filthy, environmentally-harmful runoff.
- My campaign has a simple slogan and plan for handling these issues, while simultaneously saving Floridians money on their electrical bills: "Power to The People as a Public Utility!"
Criminal Justice Reform:
- Cease all pending transactions to hand away our public detention facilities to self-serving For Profit Corporations like the GEO Group (click here for a breakdown of unethical practices
) and work to reintegrate facilities that have already been handed off. The private prison industrial complex works to pass unethical laws that keep vulnerable citizens incarcerated to turn a profit.
As a businessman, it's easy to see that rehabilitating criminals doesn't pay if you're a For Profit Corporation. Nobody should stand to gain financially from the downtrodden.
- Push modern regulatory standards for our existing facilities; reintroduce meaningful prisoner job programs and end uncompensated prison labor
(undifferentiated from slavery
- Work towards providing vital, modern rehabilitative services to non-violent drug users, instead of wasting money incarcerating them without providing these services.
- Education is the key to a brighter future for Florida. It's time to stop shifting our education budget's focus on private schools, but, that doesn't mean an immediate end to the voucher system.
1.) Cease the expansion of the voucher program, limiting accepted applicants to lower-income families in communities with poorly performing schools. Budgetary allotment can be shifted into improving these poorly performing schools so that these affected families can feel secure in the education their children will receive publicly.
2.) Work with the Teachers Unions and PTAs to bring meaningful, modern education to classrooms, while moving away from the "teaching to a test" framework we have now.
3.) Stabilize declining teacher salaries.
4.) Hold public universities accountable for their yearly budgets by capping administrative costs (click here for the public budget from the Florida Board of Governors
5.) Continue the trend of reducing tuition costs for students attending public universities and encourage attendance to trade schools, as our state is suffering from a shortage of tradespeople.