Youngest FL House rep. pioneers online classes bill

- Through Facebook videos, State Representative Amber Mariano is giving her Pasco County constituents a look inside her new world in the Florida House in Tallahassee.

"I love doing the weekly videos," said Rep. Mariano. "I've gotten very good responses on them. I think people get to know what's going on and to follow it in the news is really tough because there are a lot of intricacies. It's tough to interpret if you're not in the process and so I try to give my constituents a lowdown of what I did and what that means for them and for our district".

Mariano isn't your typical politician. At only 21-years-old, she is the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House.

"When I walk in every day it still doesn't feel real. Like I look up, see my name on the board and pinch myself", said Rep. Mariano.

She's still in college. She is set to graduate from the University of Central Florida in Orlando in August.

"I got a 3.8 this semester, so it's pretty good I think", said Rep. Mariano.

On top of keeping her grades up, she's proud of her accomplishments during her first legislative session. Three bills passed both chambers. She said her first bill was her pet project.

"It allows us to join an agreement with 47 other states to offer online college courses without having to charge each other these outrageous fees", said Rep. Mariano.

She believes it helped that she's still a college student.

"I think it definitely gave me a stronger voice in those areas. I've taken online classes and I've seen how other states are trying to push their online classes into Florida. When you see that Florida doesn't have that same opportunity or it's costing us thousands and thousands of dollars more to do it as a student,  it makes my voice much stronger in saying this is like going to really help our students, our schools and save everyone money.  It's a no-brainer. Let's just move this thing forward", said Rep. Mariano.

Now she's taking her Tallahassee experiences to her home in Pasco County.

"There's a lot of legislative debriefs, so going to a lot of community groups, telling them what the House and Senate did this session, what that means for our area and really just talking with constituents", said Rep. Mariano.

Mariano's political start in her early 20s has drawn some comparisons to another Florida republican, Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, who is now running for governor.

"There obviously is a parallel that we were both young and I beat his record when I was elected. So he was 22 and you know he faced a lot of the obstacles that I am facing in the house,  but I think it's inspiring to know that there's someone out there that had a similar start to me,  so may be that will be a good thing for me in the future", said Rep. Mariano.

For now, she's in awe of her present.

"I get to represent my community that I grew up in and it's just been an incredible experience", said Mariano.

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