Florida Senate District 15
State Representative for District 45, 2016 to present
Florida A&M University, B.A., Political Science, 2003
African Methodist Episcopal
State Rep. Kamia Brown of Ocoee, faces off against fellow Democratic state Rep. Geraldine Thompson of District 44, in the Aug. 23 primary for the District 15 Senate seat. Brown was initially going to run for re-election in District 45, but decided to step up when state Sen. Randolph Bracy jumped into the race for the 10th Congressional District seat that was vacated by Democrat Val Demings, who is expected to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in November.
There are no other contenders, Republican, Independent, or otherwise affiliated in the race. The winner goes to the state House. Thompson is touting her experience, having served five terms in the state House and six terms in the state Senate. But Brown, 42, fresh from her stint as House Democratic Leader pro tempore, brings plenty to the table, including her ability to work across the aisle, as she said in a July forum at the Tiger Bay Club of Center Florida, as reported by Florida Politics.
A signature piece of legislation that Brown — herself a mom to a toddler — shepherded through the Republican legislature, with the support of Republican Speaker Chris Sprowls, expanded Medicaid coverage for postpartum moms from two months to a full year after giving birth.
As the ranking Democrat on the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, healthcare is Brown’s jam, and she has sponsored or supported legislation to address the disparity in health outcomes between white patients and patients of color. She co-sponsored a bill that channeled $4.4 million in additional resources to the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to assist with community outreach. She also had budget funding approved to examine sickle cell disease in Medicare enrollees with the goal of better understanding and treating the condition that primarily affects Black and Hispanic citizens. During a WESH-TV forum with Thompson, Brown said the first bill she would file as state senator would be to continue sickle cell research.
Beyond healthcare, Brown was the House sponsor of the Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Fund that awards $6,100 annually to descendants of the 1920 Ocoee Massacre or other Black students in Ocoee who want to further their education after high school. Brown also co-sponsored a ballot measure for a constitutional amendment to give an additional homestead tax break worth up to $150,000 for teachers, police officers and emergency responders. Plus, she co-sponsored legislation that shields minors from having their arrests come up in public records searches and curbs the use of restraints with students.
Elected in March as chair of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus, it’s Brown who will set the Democrats’ agenda for the next two years. She favors programs to help entrepreneurs scale up their businesses and a requirement to fully fund the Sadowksi Fund each year. The Sadowski Fund was created in 1991 to finance state and local affordable housing initiatives, but it gets routinely tapped to balance the budget, leaving less for actual housing.
Brown wants to ban assault rifles, although she's realistic about what can be achieved on that front. “What I’ve learned is you can’t have the whole apple. Little by little you take a bite of the apple until you solve the issue,” she said during the WESH-TV forum.
Decidedly pro-choice, Brown is concerned that further restrictions on abortion beyond the ban after 15 weeks (currently being challenged in state court) could impact the state in unforseen ways, in terms of lost business revenue, fewer college and university applicants and, most worrisome, an exodus of physicians, fearful of prosecution, from the state.
“We already have a doctor shortage here in our state,” she told VoxPopuli in a phone interview. “We don’t need more of them leaving the state because the Florida legislature chooses to tie their hands. That is something we need to continue to fight back against.”
Brown was critical of the work done on property insurance in the special legislative session called by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, telling VoxPopuli the legislature did not fix the crisis. “There’s more work for us to do to make sure we not only lower property insurance prices, but we make sure folks have access to put in claims. We should also be helping citizens harden their homes,” she said.
She’s also been vocal about her opposition to what she sees as DeSantis’s “overreach” in terms of how the Congressional redistricting process and voting rules have disenfranchised Black and minority voters.
“I think the governor forgets that in a democracy, power does not go from the top to the bottom. Brown said in April. “It goes from the bottom up.”