Meet the “Sunrise Agenda,” a progressive path for Florida

March 11, 2019 7:00 am
Rich Templin

Rich Templin,legislative and political director of the Florida AFL-CIO, speaks about the Sunrise Agenda’s economic policies at a press conference at the Capitol.

For more than two decades, Florida’s legislative and executive branches have been run by political leadership that worships at the altar of big money campaign contributions. They have pushed an agenda gutting local control of policy-making, gifting tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, rolling back investments in our neighborhood public schools, and eviscerating protections for consumers, working families and the environment. Enough. On the first day of the 2019 Florida legislative session, progressive lawmakers and advocates unveiled the “Sunrise Agenda”, a bold path forward designed to benefit all Floridians – not just the powerful and politically connected.

The Sunrise Agenda recognizes that the focus of our state government must be on the people who make Florida work every day: people like our teachers, retirees, nurses, and small business owners.

There are five basic pillars of the Sunrise Agenda: our economy, our health, our students, our environment, and our people. SiX, the State Innovation Exchange, worked with progressive partners and public interest-minded legislators to craft the agenda. Taken together, the Sunrise Agenda is the foundation for a progressive platform that will build a Florida that works for every Floridian.

Florida’s economy is doing great for some and not so great for many. The Sunrise Agenda calls for creating good jobs that support families, expanding opportunities, and ensuring we grow a fair and equitable economy for everyone. That’s why we believe it’s time to address low, stagnant wages and ensure equal pay for equal work. With Florida’s growing housing crisis, it’s critical that lawmakers stop raiding the affordable housing trust fund. The Sunrise Agenda supports working families by ending unnecessary, dubious corporate tax breaks, and calls for building a world class, modern public transit system.

No matter where you live or what your income, every Floridian deserves the opportunity for a healthy life. The single most effective policy lawmakers could enact this year to increase access to health care is to expand Medicaid to working Floridians that currently fall into the coverage gap. Supporters of the Sunrise Agenda will champion efforts to stand up to powerful insurance and prescription drug lobbies and tackle our opioid crisis head-on. Additionally, we must promote reproductive freedom and trust women to make personal health care decisions including whether to have an abortion.

All our children, regardless of their zip code, deserve to have access to a world-class public education. The Sunrise Agenda looks to achieve this by raising teacher pay to the national average, increasing the number of school nurses to keep students healthy, and expanding early childhood programs to ensure all children are ready for school.

Floridians share a special responsibility to protect our environment. Our health and economy are inextricably linked to clean water, clean air, and wild places. The Sunrise Agenda prioritizes combating climate change in order to protect Florida’s beaches, coasts, and oceans, our natural treasures on the front lines of a warming planet. We must also ensure polluters pay to clean up their pollution and are no longer the ones writing the rules.

The Sunrise Agenda supports expanding nondiscrimination protections in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations to include LGBT Floridians. The agenda supports modernizing and better funding our election systems to make sure every eligible voter can register to vote without barriers and every ballot cast is counted. Our platform includes support for common sense gun violence prevention reforms, like universal background checks.

A growing prison population is economically unsustainable and morally unacceptable. We must reduce Florida’s prison population and address racial disparities in our criminal justice system. The Sunrise Agenda also calls for a path to accessible education, work, family reunification, and citizenship for immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers.

It’s time for a new day and a new direction for the Sunshine State. The Sunrise Agenda puts Floridians first, prioritizing our health, our economy, our students, our environment and our people. Let’s do the work together now so we can wake up together to this Sunrise someday soon. You can learn more about the Sunrise Agenda by going to

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Mark Ferrulo
Mark Ferrulo

Mark Ferrulo is the Executive Director of Progress Florida, a statewide organization working to win a more progressive Florida.