Florida politicians visit FAU to discuss mental health, opioid addiction

The College of Nursing hosted the Boca campus forum.


College of Nursing students and faculty gather around Florida Democratic Senator Kevin Rader (middle) and Boca Raton Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke (blue center left) after the forum ended. Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

Alexander Rodriguez, News Editor

Florida politicians met with faculty and students to discuss various hot-button issues and legislation impacting the state Monday.


Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie opened the College of Nursing forum by talking about job prospects in Boca Raton and other improvements like the new I-95 southbound exit to FAU.


“We are building a city for you. So when you graduate from college you can stay and have a wonderful job,” Haynie said.

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie speaks to the College of Nursing students and faculty who attended the legislative forum Monday evening. Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

Florida Democratic Senator Kevin Rader then answered questions posed by several students.


Vice President of the FAU Student Nursing Association and senior nursing major Christopher Demezier asked Senator Rader how the House Bill 21 — which puts limits on pain relief prescriptions — will help reverse the effects of the opioid crisis.


“Best part of this bill is that it limits prescriptions to three opioids,” Senator Rader said. “You were getting 30 day supplies but now it’s three.”


Student Government House of Representative Speaker Marianne Alex was also in attendance. She asked Senator Rader if any legislation was passed to prevent a tragedy like the one after hurricane Irma left 14 Hollywood, Florida nursing home residents dead when power outages halted the air conditioning.


Senator Rader said two bills were passed. One bill required every nursing home to own generators and the other requires tax exemption on generator purchases.


“What happened in Hollywood at the nursing home is inexplicable,” Rader said. “You can’t explain your way out of it.”


Assistant professor of nursing Lucy Wiese asked Democratic Senator Bobby Powell about how to Baker Act an individual when they are deemed a risk to the public.


The Baker Act gives citizens the right to admit an individual for a psychological evaluation and examination against their will if they are a danger to either themselves or others.


“It’s not as easy as you may think to Baker Act someone. It becomes a little difficult,” Senator Powell said. “If they have not been diagnosed then you can’t prove they have an issue.”


Boca Raton Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke also weighed in on the question by saying the police reports she oversees are mostly made up of “Baker Acts and overdoses.”


The last topic covered during the forum was Florida Law SB 7026, which addresses gun rights on school grounds. Both Powell and Rader voted for this bill and worked together with their constituents to get it passed.


One nursing student asked the senators if they would regret passing a bill like this since it allows instructional school staff to carry firearms.


“This is a state that we passed Stand Your Ground. First time it passed in the Senate, majority of the senators voted for it. Then they try to undo it,” Powell said.


“We just don’t know what is going to happen.”

Alexander Rodriguez is the news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet @AARodriguezz93