florida politics

Q&A With Jose Oliva, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

After nine sessions, Oliva hopes to leave a legacy of having helped reduce the cost of health care.

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The state legislator who represents parts of Hialeah and Miami Lakes became one of the most powerful politicians in Florida when he was named Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Now, Jose Oliva is laying out his priorities for the state government during Florida’s legislative session, as well as what changes South Florida can expect.

After nine sessions, Oliva hopes to leave a legacy of having helped reduce the cost of health care.

“Is by far the biggest threat to our future and our solvency,” he said. “It has almost half of our budget now.”

Oliva said the state is working to reduce the cost of healthcare.

“A lot can be done and we have been doing it for the past few years, chief among those was making sure we eliminated Certificate of Need,” he said. “The Certificate of Need created monopolies for hospitals. They could open up in an area and no other hospital could open up near them.”

Oliva said that consumers would benefit if hospitals operated in a more competitive environment.  

“If several hospitals could open in one area like car dealerships, then they could compete against one another and the consumer wins,” Oliva said.

Even before session began, thousands of teachers from all over the state rallied in Tallahassee to demand more funding for education while the governor, Democratic and Republican leaders all presented different proposals on how to raise teachers’ salaries. 

“I think the good thing to take away from the teacher discussion is that the House, the Senate and the executive have now all agreed that some form of raise is in order, and I think that is enormously positive,” he said.

Oliva added that he’s “very confident” there will be an agreement to raise teachers' salaries.

Neither the governor nor Oliva mentioned gun laws as session began, while Senate President Bill Galvano is supporting a bill just moved by a Republican committee that would attempt to close the so-called gun show loophole in private gun sales.

“Someone would have to prove how is it that is going to reduce gun crime or gun violence,” Oliva said. “Those states that have the most restrictive gun violence laws have the greatest amount of gun violence. Gun rights are a matter of constitutional rights and people in this state take those rights very seriously.”

Oliva is termed out after the ninth session in Tallahassee and said he plans to return home, spend more time with his family and work in the private sector, proud of his work in Tallahassee.

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