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1Miami members joined staff and supporters of Catalyst Miami on a bus ride to WLRN’s Town Hall Session last week. It was held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and according to hosts WLRN and The Miami Herald, was attended by 600 Floridians eager to know more about state legislators’ stance on health, voting reform, education and other matters affecting all residents.

Host Phil Latzman of WLRN Radio’s Florida Roundup introduced two state senators: Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), Senate Democratic leader and Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. They were joined by Mary Ellen Klas, The Miami Herald’s Tallahassee bureau chief. Along with panel discussions there were questions from the audience plus comments and queries from Twitter users and other online sources.

On the way to the event, WLRN asked the Catalyst and 1Miami members what they’d like to ask the panelists. Medicaid Expansion was the hottest topic and in a section on health, three guests from the bus got their chance to raise an important issue. They were different ages and came from varying backgrounds but they were equally concerned about their eligibility for help with health costs and whether their basic health care needs would be met.

Latvala replied, ‘I was probably the first Republican member of the Senate who was quoted in the paper… and I support the Governor’s plan.’

Florida Governor Rick Scott has recently had a change of heart about Medicaid Expansion. Now he supports the state’s participation in Affordable Care, saying that Florida will take part in the program.

The Town Hall Session, recorded for WLRN Radio and streamed on their website, also covered property insurance, political ethics and the Stand Your Ground law on the eve of the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death.

But the expansion of Medicaid benefits for Florida’s uninsured was an important element of the session, with Catalyst and 1Miami asking questions and holding up signage for WLRN’s camera.

The well-attended town hall session is a strong reminder that it is possible to talk to our legislators, challenge them when necessary and educate ourselves on essential policies that make a difference to our daily lives.

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