Representative Patt Maney’s first two years in Tallahassee went pretty well for him as far as freshmen lawmakers go. He got more bills passed in 2022 than any other freshman lawmaker in Tallahassee – a total of six. Only one representative was able to get more bills through than him.
But his greatest goal – total reform of the Baker and Marchman Acts, which govern the arrest and detention of mentally ill people or people in crisis, eluded him. You can read more about his plan here. Progress for the reform has built steadily over the representative’s first term in the state house. Last year, parts of his bill – concerning the treatment of children who are Baker Acted, were rolled into another bill which became law. “We’re getting there,” Maney said emphatically over the phone, “it’s my hope that in this coming session, we will get it.”
Maney argued that in Okaloosa County alone in the last year, there were two preventable deaths that could have been stopped were it not for the weaknesses in the Baker and Marchman Acts. “It brings out the need to bring a 50-year-old law into the 21st century,” Maney said, “For the people who are involved, it is just so critical. And that includes the people with serious mental illness, as well as their families as well as victims. I mean, this is just something that we need to go ahead and buckle down and do.”
Maney reports that both the incoming Speaker of the Florida House and President of the Florida Senate are looking with great interest in the bill.
One of the most important things a state representative can do for his or her constituents is get appointed to committees. These committees host the sausage-making of laws and can determine where money gets spent. In short, good committee assignments mean a lot of power that a representative can wield on behalf of the people they represent.
Representative Maney hopes his track record of passing bills and acting as a statesman in Tallahassee will see the reward from the Florida House Speaker, Chris Sprowls, who is in charge of doling out those positions. Maney takes the sign he was appointed during the session to positions of increased responsibility as a good sign, though not a guarantee of anything. Last session Maney received several committee assignments having to do with education, including a vice-chairmanship. “I am going to ask to be added to judiciary appropriations. But the speaker won’t be making decisions about committee assignments until after the elections [in November], because you never know who is going to win or who is going to lose.”
As a result of his efforts in Tallahassee in 2022, Representative Patt Maney was able to celebrate FAMU’s Pharmacy School in Crestview’s 10th anniversary. The school, which is a fully accredited institution that grants a doctorate level degree, started in the community thanks to past state representative and state senator Dr. Durell Peaden, Jr. The school took up residence in the old Alatex clothing factory, which sits across the street from Crestview City Hall.
“[Dr. Peaden got the money to renovate the building and put in a branch pharmacy school from Florida A&M to improve job opportunities, education and health in the more rural part of the panhandle,” Maney remembers.
“I met a very sharp young man who had come down here to go to pharmacy school,” Maney said, “that little school has a great return on investment because the tuition is low, the classes are small and they have an 8.8% high pass rate on the [NAPLEX pharmacist licensure exam] than the national average. Because it [has] small classes, it’s turning out great students. And the majority of those students who graduate are practicing pharmacy right here in the panhandle.“
The school started with 27 students in 2012 and has grown the number of learners in the area since its inception. The school costs about $6,000 per semester, according to Maney, and only requires applicants to have an associate’s degree in order to gain admittance.
Maney believes that the next step in advancing the pharmacological career paths in Okaloosa County runs through Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) and Okaloosa County Schools (OCSD).
“What I think is gonna happen is that we are going to end up with an academic pipeline where young people will get interested in [pharmacy] in high school,” Maney said – noting that Crestview High School has a medical track program on campus – and the other three large high schools have a partnership with HCA Hospitals for training. “and what i’d like to do is get a pharmacy component in that. If the students take those classes and do well, they can be dually enrolled with [NWFSC] and graduate from high school. [Those students] can go straight to this program and come out with a doctorate of pharmacy.”
Maney noted that pharmacy graduates make about $125,000 per year out of college – making the job a potentially lucrative and stable career. “It’s really kind of staggering,” Maney mused, “I know what young lawyers start out at; state attorneys, or public defenders, or even working with a private firm. Around here, they don’t start out at six figures.”