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Former Equality Florida Lobbyist Making House History

Smith campaign

Florida’s first openly gay Hispanic legislator says he will push for state funding to help his Central Florida constituents recover from the nation’s worst mass slaying.

Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says the City of Orlando will buy the Pulse nightclub and turn it into a memorial, but the state needs to do more to help victims and their families.

“The majority of the population impacted is either uninsured or underinsured, so there are serious structural obstacles to people effected by the Pulse shootings to getting the care that they need. So that is going to have to be a line-item in the budget.”

Smith didn’t name a price tag, but he said studies before the tragedy showed the region needed $150 million in mental health services. Before he was elected, Smith was well known in Tallahassee as an Equality Florida lobbyist.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.