ADVOCATE

Advocacy represents a cornerstone of our work at United Way Suncoast. We  believe government plays a critical role in creating change that can improve people’s lives. But government cannot do it alone. Neither can United Way and the rest of the nonprofit sector. Led by our Public Policy Committee, United Way Suncoast actively engages in public policy advocacy to develop partnerships that include local, state, and federal governments – along with the private and nonprofit sectors.

As a regional leader, we strive to join civic, corporate and government leaders to produce solutions. Our work on the 2022 housing crisis typifies our advocacy efforts. We not only devoted substantial funding to address the crisis, but we took a collective approach to addressing the housing crisis on multiple fronts, including staging a five-county housing roundtable with nonprofit partners, larges businesses and elected leaders to discuss practical solutions.

The session yielded 41 ideas to stabilize the crisis. We also met with 20 state representatives to advocate for those needed housing and promote housing supports. In addition, we’ve taken the lead on providing information and resources to those seeking help, and grown into a leader in data distribution about the crisis with our housing crisis dashboard.

Public Policy 2024 State Agenda, United Way Capitol Days

As one of 28 local United Way affiliates in the state, we collaborate with United Way of Florida to advocate for public policy that will do the most good for all Floridians. For the 2024 Florida legislative session, our advocacy will involve a focus on financial stability, affordable housing and expanding access to healthcare. On Nov. 7-8, a contingent of United Way Suncoast team members led by CEO Jessica Muroff and Public Policy chair Mike Daigle attended United Way of Florida’s United Way Capitol Days. The group joined more than 70 local United Way members from around the state. They met with local legislators, heard from state agency leaders and advocated for both the state consensus agenda and our local public policy concerns. With the help of the RSA Consulting firm, one of the organizers for Capitol Days, the Suncoast contingent met with an array of legislators. Please scroll down to review the United Way of Florida and United Way Suncoast consensus agendas.

2024 Legislative Review

Florida’s 2024 Legislative Session, which wrapped up on March 8th, was an eventful one for both United Way Suncoast and Florida’s statewide network of local United Ways. Each year, the United Way of Florida prepares a Consensus Agenda that details the network’s legislative priorities. The Consensus Agenda is developed through input from local United Ways and is voted on and approved by the UWOF board. UWS is an active member of the statewide policy team and plays an integral role in this process. UWS, through the work of its public policy committee, also created its own local policy agenda that both aligns with the Consensus Agenda and reflects the unique needs of the Tampa Bay community.

UWS and other local United Ways from around the state travelled to Tallahassee in advance of the 2024 Session to connect with their local lawmakers as part of the UWOF Capitol Day event and to advocate for these priorities. UWS team members also made another trip to the Capitol during session to promote the centennial celebration. They were greeted by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Speaker-designate Danny Perez, and other members of legislative leadership. Hillsborough County’s delegation Chair, Senator Jay Collins, also honored UWS with a proclamation and a Senate floor recognition, commemorating the organization’s century of service.

When all was said and done, multiple key objectives on the UWOF Consensus Agenda were accomplished. For the second year in a row, money was appropriated in the state budget to expand access to the volunteer income tax assistance program (VITA) program, which provides free tax preparation services to ALICE families throughout Florida. In the area of early childhood education, funding was included to expand access to the School Readiness program and to increase reimbursement rates for providers. A new tax credit was also created for employers who provide childcare benefits to their employees. One of the most notable bills passed in 2024—a major health care package called the “Live Healthy Act”—includes provisions to strengthen Florida’s health care workforce and to improve access to behavioral health services, which were also United Way priorities.

All in all, it was another productive and successful year for United Way. Thank you to everyone who joined us in Tallahassee and participated in our public policy efforts.

— Matt Herndon, RSA Director of Government and Community Relations

Public Policy Vision Statement

To establish United Way Suncoast as a valued leader and vital resource for representatives of local, state, and federal government in the development and enactment of legislation, regulations, and procedures that are beneficial to the citizens of DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties, as well as to United Way and its constituents.

Public Policy Committee

  • Develops annual public policy agendas
  • Builds corresponding policy engagement plans
  • Cultivates relationships with elected officials

For more information, please contact United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff at jmuroff@uwsuncoast.org.

thumbnail of UWOF 2023 Consensus Agenda thumbnail of Local Public Policy Agenda (2)

 

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