Katie Edwards Shows D’s How To Pass A Bill





It happens very rarely that a Broward Democrat can make a difference in Tallahassee.

Especially a freshman Democrat.

It happened to State Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation.

katie edwards

Katie Edwards


Through hard work and persistence, having the right issue at the right time and cooperating with Republicans, Edwards helped pass the medical marijuana bill.

Medical marijuana was one of Edwards’ priorities when she got elected in 2012. The bright-eyed freshman optimistically filed medical marijuana bill when she got to Tallahassee in 2013.

It quickly died. It didn’t even get a committee hearing.

Edwards went to work.

The timing was perfect. Lawyer John Morgan had pushed a referendum on medical marijuana onto the ballot. Some lawmakers wanted to beat November voters to the punch.

Yet many Republicans, who control the Legislature, remained afraid of medical marijuana. They were terrified of being labeled “soft on crime” in a GOP primary if they voted to allow the alternative medicine. Some believed that permitting medical marijuana would be the first step to allowing  recreational smoking.

One GOP lawmaker told Edwards that her bill was like shooting a bullet into a mountain snow bank: It would cause an avalanche, which would turn Florida into a druggies’ haven.

Edwards had an idea.

Getting lists of ill children who needed the unconventional treatment that marijuana would provide, she introduced Republican legislators to the sick kids.

“We put them in touch with victims in their districts,” Edwards said. “Victims in nice Republican districts.”

By putting a face on the debate, she changed opinions. Hesitant legislators finally understood that their neighbors, many of them Republicans, needed the help that the bill would provide.

Edwards knew it would take more than sad stories to convince some legislators.

She met with Gov. Rick Scott and explained to him the benefits of medical marijuana. He eventually agreed to sign the bill.

She kicked off her 2014 re-election with a campaign speech from Cathy Jordan, an ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) victim and a prominent spokeswoman for medical marijuana.

She spent hours researching the subject on the Internet, forwarding her findings to members of the House.

One of those Republicans targeted by Edwards was state Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican chair of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee from the Panhandle. He is the son of Senate President Don Gaetz.

“Rep. Edwards can be annoyingly persistent. She pestered me with emails every day for about three months,” Gaetz told the Sunshine State News.

Then as the first committee meetings for the 2014 session were getting underway, Gaetz saw a Dr. Sanjay Gupta documentary on CNN entitled, “Why I Changed My Mind On Weed.”

Gaetz was hooked.

For the first time, committee hearings on the bill were scheduled.

When Jordan maneuvered herself to the microphone at the judiciary committee, she had a “Re-elect Katie Edwards” sticker on the back of her wheel chair.

The rest is history.

With Gaetz aboard, the bill had a bipartisan patina. Other GOP lawmakers fell in line.

Edwards ended up doing what state Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, couldn’t do in four previous years in a row – pass a medical marijuana bill.

Last week, Edwards received a hand written letter from Senate President Don Gaetz. He thanked her for her persistence and thanked her for pushing the bill.

After showing Democrats how it is done, it is no surprise that Edwards name has surfaced as a possible statewide candidate in 2018.

15 Responses to “Katie Edwards Shows D’s How To Pass A Bill”

  1. Elroy John says:

    So just to be clear, the key to the Democrats’ success in Tallahassee is to find an issue already being embraced by referenda/legislative action/judicial action throughout the country, and that is already on the state’s midterm ballot with overwhelming support and likelihood to pass, and make a bill out of it.

    Well since you can’t swing a dead cat in Florida without hitting an issue like that, this should be easy. I mean God forbid the Florida Democratic Party figure out what it stands for and help to cultivate and support like-minded candidates throughout the state. Because once in a decade legislative issues like this one are a much easier bet. Ok, I’m done.

  2. Siobhan Edwards says:

    Katie worked tirelessly on this bill, and others, to not only educate herself but also her fellow electorates in Tallahassee. Hard work and dedication to do what’s right for the State of Florida is what drives her and continues to make her a successful State Rep. I’m very proud to have her as my State Rep. and my daughter!

  3. That Sucking Sound says:

    Is this the same Katie Edwards that is in bed with the De La Portias in Miami, and funneling their money into the Progressive Choice PAC to attack Charlie Crist?


    I have no idea if Edwards has anything to do with those ads.

    I will reiterate that former State Sen. Nan Rich disgraces herself by not denouncing these ads. This is a woman who claims she is a “true Democrat.” Yet she accepts help from Republican dirty tricksters who want to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott.

    The campaign is a tragic end to Rich’s distinguished political career. Rich’s inability to retire gracefully despite failing to gain support after months of campaigning is doing nothing but harm to the Democrats in this state. Her embrace of the worst elements in the GOP is proof that this woman will do anything in an attempt to stay relevant.

    Here is the Daily Kos — a true progressive website — earlier this month writing about those ads:

    Rick Scott’s campaign manager said last November that he would attack Charlie Crist from the left. And ta-da…a “liberal” group calling itself “Progressive Choice Florida” has suddenly arrived on the scene: a group which refuses to list their donors, has no contact information, and uses an insulting shell website (http://www.progressivechoiceflorida.com/).

    No real progressive group in Florida has ever heard of them, much less worked with them. However, they are VERY flush with cash. This mystery group in its brief existence has already conducted a statewide mail campaign, bought tons of ads, and put out robocalls in South Florida smearing Charlie Crist.

    The group incorporated in Delaware recently, and has rather bizarre ideas of what “progressive” means. I heard about this group in a visit to a Seminole County meeting yesterday, where members told me the group was fighting a local penny infrastructure tax. Their mailers are nasty in attacking Crist, but they also run ads like this one:

    photo school-choice-980_zpsdf747593.jpg

    Odd. Supporting school vouchers and Florida’s disastrous charter schools are not known to be “progressive” causes.

    The group said its leader is Jamie Fontaine. Even after repeated requests, she won’t disclose the donors:

    I will not at this time provide the names these supporters because their only motivation is to engage and have a meaningful impact.

  4. Good Job says:

    What an example of what hard work can do in the Florida House. Instead of being like the rest of the Legislative Delegation crying about what a bunch of meanies leadership is, she took steps to bring the issue to their door in a way they could see and agree to an alternative position.

    During the Jeb/Charlie years in the Senate Geller and Skip could work across party lines to get things passed. In the House, Ryan, Jenne, Gelber and Seiler could get things passed.

    Hopefully Rep. Edward will be an example to others in Broward to run for the House to find way to work with others to get things done instead of sitting on the sidelines crying about evil Republicans and plotting their next move to the County Commission or Judge.

  5. Kevin Cerino says:

    Rep. Edwards has taken a lot of heat on liberal blogs because she does not vote in lock step against the GOP majority. It looks like she knows what she is doing.

  6. Barbara J says:

    Don’t forget Katie was also the sponsor of another big bill that passed. She is a rising star from Broward.


  7. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Good job names a list of lawyers always running for office to get clients even if it means ignoring the poor, seniors. Historic preservation and getting fat literally on lobbyists handouts. Any jenne on a list of ethical people is an insult to ethical democrats. N Geller? Are you serious?

  8. @ good job says:

    While you have the right idea, Tim Ryan shouldn’t be on that list. He maybe passed one bill his whole time in Tallahassee and failed in his major priority, which was to get a new water system to Dania Beach.

  9. Lori Parrish says:

    Katie is doing a great job!

  10. No clue says:

    If you know anything about who is who in the legal community in this town the lawyers mentioned above didn’t need to serve to have successful law practices. I bet most woukd say serving in Tallahassee cost them money. I would add sen Smith to this list as well.

  11. Dist 99 voter says:

    Katie is a self serving narcissist. If it wasn’t for her powerful Republican uncle and coincidental opportunity she would be another unknown nobody (let’s not forget Republican Edwards who couldn’t win a house race in Dade). This bill would mean nothing to her if it wasn’t for the fact she’s getting exactly what she wants- publicity! Lets not put her to martyr status quite yet.

  12. untouchable says:

    LMAO at you partisan hacks out there bitching about Katie Edwards being a “Republican” for working across the isle for the good of her constituents, while at the same time excited about the shadow Charlie Crist.
    These bloggers are like hungry dogs at the dinner table. Nipping at their family’s heels and hoping if they let this nice man Charlie crist for dinner he will throw them some scraps.

  13. The Guess Who says:

    Why don’t you do a story on Shevrin Jones getting a bill passed and signed into law this session? I forgot, this is the Katie Edwards Unofficial Fan Blog.


    The medical marijuana bill was highlighted because it was one of the most visible and talked about measures this session. In addition as I wrote, it took significant effort to convince many Republicans that allowing medical marijuana was politically acceptable.

    I have heard a lot of good things about Shevrin Jones. One good bill he passed would expand the background checks for youth athletic coaches to include certain assistant coaches.

  14. Andrew Markoff says:

    Buddy, I have been wondering if what you assert about Nan Rich isn’t actually just a facet of her personality and her political career but perhaps highlights an overall problem with the left in America. As an adamant leftist myself, I have realized over the time I have spent networking and getting to know the issues and the political games that the formulation of a circular firing squad is perhaps the first priority of the left, and the wider cause of actually winning amongst the wider electorate just isn’t a priority for too many of us.

  15. Katie Endorsed Nan says:

    You forgot to mention the most important fact which is that Katie Edwards endorsed Nan Rich for governor.
    She gets all this done and endorses the True Democrat in the race, not some former Republican.