As seen in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Looking ahead: In the short span of four months, transgenderism has become the civil rights issue of the day. In the months ahead, unless public school districts allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity they could lose federal funds by unilateral mandate of the Obama administration. This is just another example of one more interest group benefiting from the sacrifices of Blacks which brought about the very civil rights laws and protections from which they seek to benefit.

Looking ahead: Going into Florida’s prison system could be a death sentence! Over 300 deaths last year—annually almost a death a day! Couple that with the recent firing of 44 prison staffers by new Correction Secretary Julie Jones; 32 guards fired last year in connection with the deaths of inmates; and, sexual abuse of female prisoners and it all adds up to a disgusting intolerable shameful situation. It’s encouraging to see that legislative leaders want to work with Jones to reform a system reminiscent of the “Old South.” Many believe that if most non-violent ex-felons could vote, things would change!

Last week: Only five percent of the state’s 1.6 million black voters voted in the August Primary. Disgraceful. Have black Floridians forgotten their state’s history of segregation and violence? Between 1882 and 1930, Florida had the highest per capita percentage of black lynchings in the nation; in 1951 the Florida NAACP civil rights pioneer and voting rights advocate Harry T. Moore, and his wife, were killed when the KKK bombed their house; in 1956, two black women were arrested in Tallahassee for sitting in the front seats of a bus. And the list goes on. Let’s hope they remember by Nov. 4.

Last week: “The controversial swap of five high-value Taliban terrorists for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. President Obama said: “Our top priority is making sure that Bowe gets the care and support that he needs, and that he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible.” What about Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, whose family is in Weston, who is being kept in a Mexican jail like a prisoner of war? Shouldn’t he get “the care and support that he needs . . . and be `united with his family as soon as possible?”

Looking ahead: People will be asking why the Obama Administration can swap five Taliban terrorist leaders for an army soldier alleged to be a deserter, but doesn’t apparently have the clout or will to free Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, whose mother is right here in Weston, who served two tours of duty honorably in Afghanistan and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This presents a great opportunity for Broward elected officials to become engaged on this national and international issue. There is a definite Broward connection.

A group of faculty and students at Florida State University protested the possible selection of former House Speaker and current state Sen. John Thrasher to be FSU President. This is just another example of students and faculty trying to impose their narrow will: the protest against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers, which led her to cancel her commencement address; and against Somali-born women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi, which caused Brandeis to withdraw awarding an honorary degree because of her criticism of Islamic practices against women. If students and faculty don¿t like a policy or decision, just leave.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, should be commended for keeping the debate of expanding health-care alive and well.

In Tallahassee, she used her position as the ranking Democrat on several health-care committees to urge colleagues to take the $51 billion in Afforidable Care Act funding to help both low-income Floridians who lack health insurance and small businesses that will rely on Obamacare to meet their employees’ medical needs.

As chair of the Broward County Legislative Delegation she helped develop an upcoming “Town Hall on Healthcare,” a public forum where business leaders, hospital officials and health care advocates will discuss health-care reform. It will be held Tuesday at the Broward County Commission Chambers.

Her work, though, isn’t finished.

Last month, the Florida Legislature rejected the federal plan to expand Medicaid that would have provided health-care coverage to one million more Floridians.

Senate Republicans didn’t like Medicaid expansion, but they came up with an alternative that won widespread support. They proposed using federal funds to allow nearly one million low-income working Florida adults to buy private health insurance.

The Florida House didn’t like Medicaid expansion or the Senate alternative. Instead, they proposed a limited program that relied on state funding to cover fewer people. The result? Florida will miss out on the first installment of federal funding for health-care expansion.

Business representatives, health care advocates and legislators, like Senate and House Democratic leaders Chris Smtih and Perry Thurston respectively, have urged Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session to address the matter. The governor had long opposed Obamacare but decided to support Medicaid expansion. So far, no response on a special session.

Like it or not, health care expansion is a reality. The Florida Health Care Coalition, a group representing employers, warns that failure to take advantage of it will put a crimp on our economy and hurt businesses in the long run.

In the end, the only people who can influence state lawmakers are their constituents. Supporters should set up sessions with their legislators, especially those in Republican districts. As Sen. Sobel put it: “My colleagues across the aisle need to listen to their constituents and expand health care now.”

There’s still time.

Clarence McKee is president and CEO McKee Communications, Inc and a former commissioner of Broward Health.