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Daniel Robert "Bob" Graham was the thirty-eighth Governor of Florida, serving from January 2, 1979 to January 3, 1987. Graham was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966 and then to the State Senate in 1970. Serving two terms as Governor, Graham dealt with the influx of Cuban and Haitian refugees, supported Florida's reintroduction of the death penalty, and introduced environmental legislation to save Florida's water resources. Graham was elected United States Senator in 1986. Five months into Governor Graham's first term in office, Florida executed the nation's first person in fifteen years. John Spenkelink, a drifter convicted of commiting a 1973 murder in Tallahassee, was the first person sentenced to death after the 1976 Supreme Court revoked its earlier 1972 ban on capital punishments. Spenkelink was executed 25 May 1979 in the state prison in Starke---the first execution in Florida since May 1964. As news spread of the death sentence, the governor's began to receive thousands of letters, many from as far way as California, New York, Arizona, Holland, Italy, France, and Switzerland. The letters continued throughout 1979. Because of the amount of letters received--both for and against the execution--the Governor's office staff created a death penalty file separate from their general correspondence file.
Soon, other major issues attracted wide spread letter writing campaigns. The governor's office expanded the death penalty files into an "Issues correspondence" file. These issues included:
--McDuffie Case/Miami Riots. On 17 May 1980, Arthur McDuffie, a black resident of Miami, was beat by four white police officers. An all-white jury found the officers not jury. That verdict resulted in a violent riot in Miami during which 18 people died, and an estimated $100 million in damage occurred. To help rebuild the riot area, Governor Graham proposed a 1 cent sales tax (from 4 per cent to 5 per cent). Many citizens complained about paying for the actions of others, while other citizens criticized Janet Reno, state attorney if the Miami-Dade area, for not investigating the police more thoroughly.
--Hwy 441 Expansion in Estero. After years of planning and citizens' request, the Florida Dept. of Transportation decided to widen Highway 441 in Estero. But because a such expansion would affect a portion of Koreshan State Park--a 1976 designated National Historic Site, the FDOT decided to re-route the highway. Local citizens organized a major letter writing campaign complete with pre-written form letters and local drop boxes to complain of this re-routing, which was considered detrimental ot local businesses.
--Equal Rights Amendment. In 1972, there was a national push to add an equal rights amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution. Congress passed legislation that cleared the way for an ERA amendment, pending ratification by three-fourths of the states. Meanwhile in 1979, many in Florida tried and failed to add such an amendment to the state's constitution. Finally, on 30 June 1982, the national ERA was prevented from ratification by three states: North Carolina, Illinois, and Florida.
--Homosexuality/Trask Amendment. In 1981, Florida Senator Alan Trask, along with many House members, proposed legislation to halt funding for any state college that engaged in any activities or programs that encouraged, promoted, or in any way endorsed homosexual activities and/or causes. Governor Graham and the Florida Task Force sued to have the anti-gay amendment removed from the appropriations bills. Eventually, the Florida Supreme Court declared the amendment to HB 747 unconstitutional.
--Concealed weapons. In 1982, the legislature passed HB 34, which allowed firearms to be carried or concealed anywhere in a motor vehicle, including the passenger seat. Governor Graham vetoed the bill.
--Sales tax increase. In 1982, Governor Graham proposed a one cent hike in sales tax (up from 4% to 5%) to offset the rising ad valorem taxes. Fifty per cent of the new tax would go to local communities, of which 40% was to provide ad valorem tax relief. The proposal passed on 7 April 1982, effective 1 May 1982.
--Medical malpractice. As malpractice suits proliferated, medical practitioners in Broward County led a major campaign asking the Governor to place a cap of malpractice suit awards of $100,000.
-- Cancer treatments. In 1981, several in the state wanted the legislature to pass the Cancer Research Act, which would legalize unconventional and alternative cancer therapies. The initiative began after several sensational reports of Dr Lawrence Burton's Immuno Augmentation Cancer Therapy's alleged success against cancer in the Bahamas.
--Health care costs containment. In 1984, the legislature proposed legislation to set rate limits on medical and hospital services to suppress rising medical costs.
This series contains Governor Graham incoming issue correspondence from 1979 to 1984. The records include correspondence from the general public mainly expressing their support or criticism regarding various issues. Topics include the death penalty, Equal Rights Amendment, the Arthur McDuffie trial and subsequent riots in Miami, concealed weapons, homosexuality, health care costs, U.S. Highway 441, cancer, sales tax, and medical malpractice. The Governor's office response is included in a few instances. The correspondence documents not only the major issues of Governor Graham's two terms in office, but also provides insight into how a large cross-section of the general public felt about these issues, and the role they felt the Florida government should play in them. Newspapers clippings were included with several of the letters.
Box listing available.
Additional Physical Form:
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Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
Graham, Bob, 1936- Reno, Janet, 1938-
Florida. Dept. of Transportation.
Capital punishment History Florida Equal rights amendments. Homosexuality Florida Gun control Florida Cancer Florida Cancer Treatment Florida Universities and colleges Florida Medical care Florida Medical policy Florida Legislation Florida Riots Florida Women Florida Health care. Tax-sales Florida Cancer Alternative treatment. Highway construction. Highway planning Florida African Americans Florida. Death penalty. Women political activists Florida
Miami (Fla.) Broward County (Fla.) Koreshan State Park (Fla.) Starke (Fla.)
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