By Kevin Deutsch
Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland) was appointed Friday to serve on Florida’s new Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, officials said.
The appointment was made by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor), who cited Hunschofsky’s experience working with mental health providers as a former mayor of Parkland and current state representative, as well as “her personal passion for assisting victims of mental health and substance abuse.”
The 19-member commission is charged with examining the state’s methods of providing mental health and substance abuse services and making recommendations to improve the effectiveness of current practices, procedures, and programs.
“Her leadership and commitment will serve the Commission and Floridians as a strong advocate for this vulnerable community,” Sprowls said.
The commission was created by Senate Bill 96 and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 29. Hunschofsky sponsored House Bill 1447, the House companion bill establishing the commission.
The legislative group has been several years in the making: A grand jury convened to investigate school district safety after the 2018 Parkland shooting recommended creating a mental health commission.
Under the law, commission members will meet quarterly or upon the chairperson’s call, with the first meeting to convene no later than September 1.
Hunschofsky thanked Sprowls for her appointment during a time of crisis for mentally ill and substance-addicted Floridians.
“The worldwide pandemic has exacerbated the mental health and substance abuse crises in our state, and it’s critical we begin our work to address the important need for our state,” Hunschofsky said.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.