Washington, DC– U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) released the following statement on securing funding for critical programs in the FY’21 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. The Crist provisions include $14 million to address harmful algae blooms like red tide, and $30 million for Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) to give Veterans in need access to treatment instead of jail time. The bill passed full committee today and is expected on the House floor in the coming weeks.
“The $30 million we provided for Veterans Treatment Courts and $14 million to combat red tide are big wins for our Veterans and all Floridians,”said Rep. Crist. “This year’s Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill also includes major wins for Tampa Bay and our nation, including funding for policing reforms, increasing protections for seniors made vulnerable by bad actors in the guardianship system, more funding to protect our coastal areas, and restrictions on federal intrusion into states like Florida that have legalized medical marijuana.”
This is Crist’s second consecutive year securing increased funding for red tide research, prevention, and mitigation. The $14 million included for FY’21 is a 40% increase from last year’s level, which he already doubled from the previous year’s budget. Fighting red tide mitigation is an issue the Congressman has continued to champion.
For Veteran Treatment Court programs, the $30 million Crist was able to secure in the legislation is a $7 million bump from last year. VTCs, like those in Pinellas and Pasco counties, work with local judges, police, VA officials, veteran service organizations, and other community leaders to secure the best possible outcomes for non-violent veterans facing the legal system, giving vets the opportunity to receive help and treatment instead of jail time.
Crist was additionally able to secure:
Last but not least, the bill features groundbreaking policing and racial justice reforms, including $400 million in grants to support reform initiatives, $77.5 million for Policy-Community relations, $8 million for hate crime prevention and prosecution, and $5 million for a new national task force on law enforcement oversight. The bill also denies federal policing funds to states and counties that do not ban excessive force, chokeholds, the use of “no-knock” warrants in drug cases, and other requirements.
- Language directing the FBI to bolster its efforts to stop elder abuse and guardianship fraud, and to establish a guardianship fraud hotline.
- $2 million for Regional Ocean Partnerships, similar to legislation introduced by Congressman Crist to support ocean and coastal health.
- Language preventing the federal government from interfering with states, like Florida, that have legalized medical marijuana.