St. Pete activists call for lawmakers “prioritize working people” ahead of 2024 legislative session

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Christy M. Foust speaks outside of St. Petersburg City Hall / Chris Young, 1/8/24

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The Florida Legislative Session starts January 9th, and a coalition of Florida advocates and leaders spoke on the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall to demand lawmakers listen to the concerns of working Floridians.

Jerry Funt is with activist group the Bay Area Dream Defenders.

“Last year, these politicians handed out tax breaks to wealthy industries, they delivered contracts to their political donors, they dismantled regulations that keep you and I safe, and they neglected to deal with rising housing and insurance costs while spending public money to engage in culture wars that targeted our communities.”

He was one of about a handful of speakers in downtown St. Petersburg calling for legislation supporting Florida’s working class. They asked for legislators to support issues such as public education, living wages, and immigration.

Speakers criticized many of the laws that came out of last year’s session. Dylan Dames of Progressive People of Faith, spoke on a 2023 state law that abolished St. Petersburg’s Tenant Bill of Rights

“Two summers ago, many community members – a lot of the people that you see here today – across race and class gathered at this building to sleep here for two nights and demand rights for tenants. Rights that were then stripped away by a state preemption during the legislative session of 2023. We say no more!”

Organizer Christy Foust is hopeful, despite a Republican-controlled legislature.

“I stay motivated because I know that I’m in the majority. It may not look that way in our legislation due to gerrymandering and different structures that hold people down, but the majority of folks want what we want.”

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