A bill to appropriate $2 million to help fund the design and construction of a permanent memorial and museum dedicated to the Pulse massacre cleared its first hurdle in the Florida House last week after a favorable recommendation from the Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.
Holly Raschein, a Republican representing Monroe County, filed the bill (HB 3583). Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), a gay man, is a co-sponsor.
“This was an unfortunate piece of our state’s history,” Rep. Rascheinsaid. “I was happy and honored to be the sponsor of this.”
The vote was 8-0. Six Republicans voted in favor.
“This was a fantastic showing of bipartisanship,” she said. “It was just the right thing to do.”
According to the appropriations project request form, the funds would be used to build “a permanent memorial and museum honoring all affected by the June 12, 2016 tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.”
The money would go to the onePULSE Foundation, who would oversee the project. In October the foundation was awarded up to $10 million in hotel-tax revenues by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners to fund the memorial and museum.
“The Tourism Development Tax funding is a significant step in fulfilling onePULSE’s mission to create a sanctuary of hope which honors all those affected by the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub,” reads a press release announcing the funding from the County.
Democratic State Sen. Linda Stewart, whose district includes the Pulse Nightclub, told in November she’s had discussions with the Senate president on including $1 million for the memorial in its 2019 appropriations.
Stewart also filed a bill to create a speciality license plate paying tribute to Pulse. The license plate would include the words “Orlando United.” The proceeds of the plate would go to the onePULSE Foundation, the Mental Health Association of Central Florida, and the Two Spirit Health Services.
Last year former Gov. Rick Scott signed into law the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which also included $1 million to build a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Parkland school shooting.
“There’s been a tremendous focus on Parkland, as there should be,” Rascheinsaid. “But we should memorialize and remember the lives lost at Pulse as well.”