Thanks to who may be the youngest lobbyist in Florida, on April 29th, the Florida Legislature made texting while driving a primary offense in a 108-7 vote. The bill now goes to the Governor for final signature.
Mark Merwitzer, a driven and focused 19-year old from Palmetto Bay, is one of the main reasons we have this bill (HB 107). Merwitzer has been championing this bill since 2016 when Mark met Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava who not only took him on as an intern, but also put him in touch with a lot of good people, including Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn. It snowballed from there. Over the years, Merwitzer has made several trips to Tallahassee to try to break through bureaucracy and other challenges to support this ‘no-brainer’ law. Two times prior it was defeated, badly. But not this time.
“I am both excited and relieved at the same time,” explained Merwitzer. “I am beyond thrilled to see this get all the way through the legislature and thankful that we will now have a law in place that will save lives and prevent further tragedies from happening. Over the past three years, I have seen the heartbreaking fallout from texting and driving accidents. I met with families who have lost sons, daughters and others to distracted driving and it is immeasurably devastating.”
Daniella Levine Cava remarked, “Mark is both passionate and purposeful. He focused extraordinary energy and strategy to press for this common-sense reform. I am honored to have played a small role, supporting him through an internship and connecting him to county lobbyists, who took him on as part of the team.”
The future for Merwitzer, now a freshman at the University of Florida, is wide open. “I am still figuring out my political future, but I know it will involve giving a voice to people who currently don’t have one,” explains Merwitzer. “I’m involved with student government and the Model United Nations at school and I see room for improvement in almost all forms of government.”
Mark’s passion is about the environment. He also has a keen eye on politicians and government officials who take money and perks from organizations and then tell the public they can fairly and honestly represent the public’s best interests. This is one young man to keep your eye on.