Message from Alan Frisher, President:
Dear Family Law Reform (FLR) Members:
Representative Ritch Workman spoke with me today to give me the bad news. With a heavy heart and a frustration that is beyond words, I must inform you that he and Senator Kelli Stargel have decided not to file an alimony reform bill this upcoming legislative session.
As it was explained to me, the sad reality of politics is that sometimes great legislation gets lost and simply doesn't see the light of day. For us, at least for this upcoming legislative session, we were the unfortunate victims of election year politics.
While understanding the reality of our State politics doesn't necessarily make things better, it may, however, allow you to see the larger picture. Please allow me to explain it to you as it was explained to me. State politics is a dicey business at best. It is rife with power and control and many people in politics want to preserve their authority and positions. Sometimes, at the highest levels, that reality gets in the way of doing what may ultimately be right for our citizens.
Our proposed bill was good law. It protected our citizens; men, women, and families. It addressed inconsistencies in the law and corrected them. It would have enabled more predictability in the law from one county to the next and would have helped thousands of families throughout our State with practical, affordable solutions to current problems surrounding alimony and other issues of family law. The Family Section of the Florida Bar was simply protecting their own pocketbooks by opposing our proposal and/or coming up with their own self-serving alternative agenda. Unfortunately, no matter how much right was (and is) on our side, we were assured of battling with the Family Section in, what would have been perceived as a very controversial bill at a time when controversy is not what our Governor needs or wants.
No matter what your political viewpoint is, our Republican Governor wants to keep our State Republican Red now, and in the future. He believes that the Republican way of life, as opposed to the Democratic, is what is best for our State. In so believing, he cannot allow Charlie Christ and progressive Democrats to have any ammunition against him for his upcoming reelection campaign.
Ritch has been, and continues to be a true advocate for alimony reform because he knows that reforming our current law is not only needed, but necessary for our citizens. But he also understands the challenging and critical political landscape for our State. That, essentially, is what made up his mind to not file our bill this upcoming election legislative session. That decision was finalized today (Friday).
That said, Ritch told me that when Scott wins the election, he (Ritch) will be in a much better position to get a stronger bill than what would have been proposed this legislative session. He believes in real reform and wanted me to make certain that I tell everyone that he is as strong an advocate and proponent for alimony reform as we could ever imagine. He also wants us to know that he is frustrated about the need to postpone legislation until 2015, but that he reconciled with himself after he understood the larger picture. He asks for our patience.
He suggested we continue to build up our war chest of funds because there will be approximately 30 new legislators between now and the 2015 legislative session that will need to be educated about the need for alimony reform. I agree.
Once again, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am about not being able to have a bill proposed this session, but after speaking with Ritch, I am confident that when we finally do get our bill proposed, it will address many more issues than this years bill would have addressed. In the meantime, please know that we will pursue any additional possibilities, including any National initiative, that we feel may be justified in achieving our goal. And despite these setbacks and obstacles we will continue to move forward with unwavering resolve.
It is difficult to keep on asking for your patience and dedication to our cause, but that is what I must do. Please believe me when I tell you that I tried every possible way to convince Ritch to propose the bill anyway. He told me that if he tried, because of pressure from the Governors office on key legislators, it would simply die in committee before it ever reached the Governor's desk for his signature. And that would ultimately make it that much harder for him to propose it next session.
Lastly, I want each of you to know that I am sorry beyond words for letting you down. I asked the members of your Executive Committee if they wanted me to step down as President since I have not been able to accomplish the goal that we set out to accomplish. They were unanimous in their opinion that I have done everything possible within my power to achieve reform and that the political environment was something out of my control. They asked me to continue to take the helm and lead our organization towards our goal of alimony reform. I would like to do just that, and finish a task that I started long ago. I can only do that with your help, guidance, and understanding.
That said, Terry Power (VP) and I still plan on attending the skit night in Tallahassee so that we can continue to educate and lobby our legislators of the need for reform. We will also show the movie 'Divorce Corp' as planned to any legislator and their staff who is interested in this topic.
Thank you for your continued support and dedication.
Message from Terry Power, VP
IT'S A MESSED UP SYSTEM, BUT IT'S THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
Words cannot effectively express the disappointment that I felt once we were informed that the long overdue Alimony Reform Bill will not be filed by Rep. Workman and Senator Stargel this session. As a fellow permanent alimony payer, each month's payment to a healthy, capable ex-spouse is nothing more than a slap in the face by our outdated laws here in Florida.
A MESSAGE FROM TARIE MACMILLAN
Women Against Permanent Alimony""WAPA"
Of course, you're disappointed, as am I. As most of you know my ex husband who DOES NOT work gets 65% of what I earn each week and I only get 35%. I want and need alimony reform as much as everyone else. I trust that Ritch Workman also wants it and is advising us in the best way possible.
For women this gives us more time to get more women involved so that the Governor can see how many women are negatively affected by our current laws. Reach out and get as many others involved as you can. Thanks for your involvement in our organization!!
Eileen Flaxman, FLR Executive Committee Member
Dear FLR members,I am the administrator for the FLR email account and I know first hand how many of you feel about what the upcoming legislation did and didn't have. Because it didn't offer concrete change for those currently suffering under permanent alimony judgments, we were all terribly disappointed.
That is why - despite my initial fury - I now think that delaying this bill a year will bring us a much better one. Ritch Workman and Kelli Stargel are devoted to this mission and I have faith that they will not give up and will not forget all the people whose lives are so impacted by permanent alimony. Our legal system has been this way for a very long time and we must be patient with the time it takes to bring about change. Those of us on the FLR Board are not giving up - and neither should you!
Thanks to each of you for your support,
Message from CHUCK REINERTSEN, TREASURER
IF ALIMONY REFORM WAS EASY,
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE YEARS AGO
As one who has been involved in the alimony reform movement for the last five years, I've seen what we are up against. It's Big Money and Politics!
Just like many of you, I am paying permanent alimony to a perfectly healthy, college educated, physically fit recipient who is my age. She's getting permanent alimony simply because she can, not because it's her only option in life.
The ONLY reason people pay lifetime alimony is because they were successful as workers in our society, which gives them the "ability to pay." When you penalize the workers, what happens to society?
I've ridden the Alimony Reform Roller-coaster with many of you. Last year it was like a train hit me when the governor vetoed SB718. The non-stop effort put into getting that bill to our governor's desk was absolutely amazing.
The reason the bill made it so far so fast is that alimony reform is the right thing to do at this time in our society. In fact, it's long overdue, and many legislators know it.
Some politicians have turned their back on their citizens in pursuit of politics. Red State, Blue State, Conservative, Liberal, Takers, Givers, Entitlements, Govt. Programs, Elections, Campaigns and Campaign Funding. Somewhere, after all the maneuvering, comes doing what you were elected to do...do what's best for our society.
The tearing apart of Florida's families with current alimony law is not an issue that will go away. We will continue this battle to help Florida's families begin to heal. As Representative Moskowitz said last year, "When the alimony stops, the healing can begin."
We have two fantastic legislators in Rep. Workman and Sen. Stargel, who are both committed to meaningful alimony reform. They both know the alimony issue and are firmly supportive. Next year, when the political climate is different in Tallahassee, they will be able to champion a bill that will be more in depth and in line with today's society.
The financial contributions you have made are safe. We are building a war chest to help fund the battle in 2015. We will be discontinuing some services for this legislative session, as there will be no bill filed in the legislature. Of course, we will continue regular newsletters to make you aware of what we learn and any other opportunities for bringing more awareness to the alimony abuse in Florida.
Please continue to contribute. We will continue to build our funds. Many hands make light work. We are working toward building our financial war chest now, and for the future. We would be comfortable with 250k but have a long way to go before we reach that number.
We are building a war-chest of funds to: 1. Be able to provide campaign contributions to those legislators who support alimony reform, 2. Be able to make trips to each legislator to help them better understand the alimony issues, and 3. Be able to help get the message to Florida's citizens about Florida's Alimony Laws.
Am I disappointed there will be no bill this year?
Is there a bigger picture and can we have a better reform bill by waiting a year?
We are not going away. Please commit yourself to helping end the abuse to Florida's workers.Chuck