Americans for Prosperity-Florida, the nation’s premier economic freedom advocacy group, hosted a major two day event, Patriot Days at the Capitol, on Wednesday and Thursday, February 15-16th in Tallahassee. It kicked off with a Rally in Tally, with hundreds of activists from across Florida joining together on the steps of the Historic Old Capitol to urge their legislators to bring real prosperity back to Florida through free market principles.

“It’s time Florida gets serious about reviving our economy and creating desperately-needed jobs,” said Slade O’Brien, AFP-Florida State Director. “Promoting smaller government and free market reforms and decreasing burdensome business regulations will help propel the Sunshine State towards increased economic freedom and prosperity.”

Afterwards we had time to meet with our legislators. I was able to get our IVBE 2012 Legislative Priorities delivered to the mailboxes of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. I was also able to speak with my State Representative, Eddy Gonzalez and my State Senator, Rene Garcia.

The AFP reception and dinner with special guests and elected officials, an awesome event, took place at the North Florida Fairgrounds. The dinner program included AFP President Tim Phillips, Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, Florida’s 2011 AFP Legislators of the Year Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Scott Plakon and Special Guest Director, Writer, Producer and Radio Host Stephen K. Bannon. It felt good being among like minded people, and I am looking forward to attending other AFP events in the near future.

Thursday morning we checked out of our hotel and headed back to the Capitol. I attended the first breakout session, Constitutional Refresher, with Krisanne Hall, who gave us an in depth history lesson. I opted out of the other breakout sessions and chose to have individual meetings with legislators. I met with the legislative aide to Representative Erik Fresen and had a great discussion on the education reform legislation being presented this session. I also met with the legislative aide to Representative Dennis Baxley, who is occupying the house seat formerly held by Kurt Kelly. Since most of the Legislature was in session it was very difficult to meet with the Representatives and Senators. I spoke briefly with Representative Rachel Burgin and will try my best to meet with her and others next week when I attend the National Coalition for Public School Options February 22nd School Choice Day at the Capitol.

On Friday, February 17, I attended the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, “A Conversation on Family Literacy” an education policy forum held at Florida Gulf Coast University, Cohen Center in Fort Myers. Jeb Bush and his sister Doro Bush Koch will be taking over their mother’s foundation and are co-chairing the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Liza McFadden, President of Volunteer USA gave the overview and introductions.
Jeb Bush presented the opening remarks and a panel discussion moderated by Susan Story, President and CEO, Southern Company Services, followed by an audience question and answer session that featured Sharon Darling, President, the National Center for Family Literacy; Jeanne Allen, President, The Center for Education Reform; and Gerald Robinson, Florida Education Commissioner. Dora Bush Koch gave the closing remarks. This event will now become an annual Florida event.

Later that evening I attended the 12th Annual Celebration of Reading event at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs, hosted by Governor Jeb and Columba Bush with Mrs. Barbara Bush and Jeb Bush Jr. We began with a Family Literacy Initiative video introduction followed by a welcome from Jeb Bush and a presentation of guest authors: Greg Kincaid, Jeff Kinney, and Randall Wallace. A Celebration Dinner followed and we were each given a tote bag filled with books. This was my second time attending this event and it was outstanding.