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Orlando Activist Turned Lawmaker Forms New Caucus

Equality Florida

While House and Senate Republicans trade bitter recriminations over a budget impasse, a fiery Democratic freshman from Orlando is launching the Progressive Legislative Caucus.

Veteran gay rights activist Carlos Guillermo Smith says the caucus he chairs is a home for disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters and will champion everything from a living wage and restoration of civil rights for ex-felons, to education and reproductive rights. 

“We want to make sure that our public schools are fully funded, and that we are not passing a lopsided budget that prefers unaccountable, for-profit, charter management companies. We want to focus on issues of social justice.”

More than a dozen House Democrats are charter members and Orlando Representative Amy Mercado is the vice chair. Guillermo Smith says the caucus is open to all comers, including Republicans.

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.