Jared Moskowitz holds real sway in Florida House

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Voices & Opinion -

Jared Moskowitz, the high-oc­tane in­cum­bent from Florida House Dis­trict 97, has es­tab­lished him­self as an ef­fec­tive Demo­cratic voice in the Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated Leg­is­la­ture. The 37-year-old at­tor­ney has served for three terms and the Sun Sen­tinel Ed­i­to­rial Board rec­om­mends vot­ers in this north­west Broward County dis­trict re­turn Moskowitz

him for a fourth.

He is op­posed by Im­tiaz Mo­ham­mad, 52, the pub­lisher and CEO of the Asian Times, who grew up in Pak­istan.

Moskowitz, now a res­i­dent of Coral Springs, served for six years on the Park­land City Com­mis­sion prior to his elec­tion to the Leg­is­la­ture.

Af­ter the Fe­bru­ary mas­sacre at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, he im­me­di­ately rushed home from Tal­la­has­see, his life for­ever changed. The story he tells about that day makes you want to weep. Some vic­tims, he said, couldn’t be iden­ti­fied be­cause of the over­sized blasts from an AR-15 high-ve­loc­ity ri­fle.

Moskowitz knew that for the tragedy to make a dif­fer­ence in Tal­la­has­see, Repub­li­can leg­isla­tive lead­ers had to see the de­tri­tus, too. So he set about mak­ing that hap­pen. Af­ter House Speaker Richard Cor­co­ran bore wit­ness to the hor­ror, he agreed to do some­thing to ad­dress the specifics that had un­folded at Stone­man Dou­glas.

“I would have liked an as­sault weapons ban,” Moskowitz told the ed­i­to­rial board. “Of course, I would have. But that bill was not on the ta­ble.”

Moskowitz signed on to a bill — sup­ported by a frag­ile ma­jor­ity of law­mak­ers — that re­quires some­one who wants to buy a ri­fle from a li­censed dealer to be at least 21 years old, to un­dergo a crim­i­nal back­ground check and to wait three days be­fore tak­ing pos­ses­sion.

The bill also banned bump stocks, which con­vert semi-au­to­matic weapons into au­to­matic weapons; ex­panded the Baker Act pro­gram to let po­lice of­fi­cers con­fis­cate weapons from peo­ple whom they con­sider dan­ger­ous; and re­quired the hard­en­ing of schools with metal de­tec­tors, bul­let­proof win­dows and more armed guards. It also al­lows teach­ers to carry guns in coun­ties whose school boards ap­prove.

“I had an F-rat­ing with the NRA, but they upped me to an F-mi­nus,” Moskowitz told us, with some pride. He says NRA lob­by­ist Mar­ion Ham­mer “holds me per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble” for the first gun­con­trol leg­is­la­tion to pass the Florida Leg­is­la­ture in a gen­er­a­tion.

Moskowitz wants more done to pro­tect stu­dents and the pub­lic in gen­eral. Be­sides a ban on mil­i­tary-style as­sault ri­fles, he ad­vo­cates uni­ver­sal back­ground checks, gun buy­back pro­grams and re­peal of the state mea­sure that pre­vents lo­cal govern­ments from pass­ing their own gun safety or­di­nances.

As a tes­ta­ment to his ef­fec­tive­ness and com­pe­tence, Moskowitz serves as the rank­ing Demo­cratic mem­ber of the im­por­tant Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, a role that has en­abled him to direct con­sid­er­able funds back to the dis­trict. Given that po­si­tion, we would en­cour­age him to get in­volved in ad­dress­ing the prob­lem of al­gae blooms in Lake Okee­chobee and sur­round­ing wa­ters. The prob­lem doesn’t af­fect Dis­trict 97 di­rectly, but it’s an en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue that if not solved, could se­verely im­pact the tourist in­dus­try and the econ­omy of the en­tire state.

We also would like to see him more strongly ad­dress the is­sue of sea level rise, and the work that must be done now to pro­tect our re­gion long-term.

Moskowitz works for Broward-based AshBritt, one of the na­tion’s largest dis­as­ter re­sponse firms. Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma, the com­pany was crit­i­cized for its slow per­for­mance in pick­ing up de­bris. But as we’ve since learned, Gov. Rick Scott awarded emer­gency de­bris pick-up con­tracts to other com­pa­nies af­ter the storm, at rates that dis­rupted es­tab­lished con­tracts across the state.

An im­por­tant “plus” on Moskowitz’ re­sume is his ser­vice as a city com­mis­sioner. A con­stant re­frain from lo­cal of­fi­cials is that leg­is­la­tors pass laws with­out suf­fi­ciently un­der­stand­ing the im­pact on lo­cal govern­ments. It’s a valid con­cern. And leg­is­la­tors who have served in lo­cal gov­ern­ment tend to have greater em­pa­thy for the im­pact back home.

Mo­ham­mad, who re­sides in Mi­ra­mar, is one of a grow­ing num­ber of Mus­lims seek­ing elec­tive of­fice. His views on is­sues, from gun con­trol to rais­ing teach­ers’ pay, con­form to the views of most South Florida Democrats. If he doesn’t win this time, we would en­cour­age him to re­main ac­tive in pol­i­tics, per­haps gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence by run­ning for a lo­cal of­fice.

Moskowitz and Mo­ham­mad are the only can­di­dates com­pet­ing for the Dis­trict 97 seat, so the win­ner of the Aug. 28 pri­mary will head to Tal­la­has­see. All vot­ers in the dis­trict, which in­cludes Coral Springs, Sun­rise, Plan­ta­tion and Ta­ma­rac, are el­i­gi­ble to cast bal­lots in the race.

Ed­i­to­ri­als are the opin­ion of the Sun Sen­tinel Ed­i­to­rial Board and writ­ten by one of its mem­bers or a de­signee. The Ed­i­to­rial Board con­sists of Ed­i­to­rial Page Ed­i­tor Rose­mary O'Hara, Andy Reid and Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Julie An­der­son.

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