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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #3                                                                                            MARCH 22, 2013
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MoreMoneyMore Money for Next Year & Allocations


Last week, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research released its General Revenue Outlook Statement projecting that the Legislature will have $3.5 billion more to spend next year than the State spent this year.  About $1.2 billion is attributable to the State's slowly recovering economy, while about $2.3 billion are "roll-over" funds that were appropriated for this fiscal year, but won't be spent.

Following release of the Outlook Statement, House and Senate leaders divvied up the 2013-2014 total projected $28.5 billion GR pot, and gave a portion to each budget subcommittee (i.e., education, transportation, health, etc.).  Each subcommittee's "allocation" will determine how much it will have to spend on programs it funds next year.

The Senate's allocation amount of $26.8 billion and the House's $26.9 billion, both below the available $28.5 billion projected to be collected, provide a buffer against sequestration and other potential needed funding.

AfterschoolAfterschool: Must-Use Educational Tool


Florida has a problem: Research definitively shows that children who cannot read by third grade will likely fail school, and 44 percent of Florida's third graders are not reading at grade level.
Research also definitively shows that children participating in quality afterschool programs perform better on standardized reading and math assessments at grade level, have greater overall academic achievement, have higher grades and academic test scores, and are more engaged in school.
Why, then, has state and federal funding for afterschool programs been slashed almost in half (46 percent) in just the last four years?
"School readiness", for excellent reasons, continues to be a major focus for Florida's policymakers and educators.  We urge them to recognize that "school readiness" does not end at first grade.  It ends when a solid educational foundation is set, which for at least 44 percent of today's Florida students is after 3rd grade.  Research shows Florida's quality afterschool programs can help set that foundation. 

SenateBudgetVoteSenate Budget Vote Scheduled


On Tuesday, Senator Joe Negron, the Senate's budget chief, announced that the proposed Senate appropriations bill for 2013-2014 will be available on March 29 and voted on by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on April 3.  If this timeframe holds up, it will be the earliest and fastest budget vote in recent session history.  The House will also be fast-tracking its budget deliberations.

In our personal ambitions we are individualists.  But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

FourMillionFour Million Floridians Uninsured


On March 4, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research presented a report to the Legislature showing that more than four million Floridians (21 percent), including almost 600 children younger than 19 (15 percent), have no health care coverage.

EarlyLearningWaitEarly Learning Bill Released


The much-anticipated House Education Committee's comprehensive early learning bill was released this morning.  The 109-page bill does not yet have a bill number, but will be available on line when it is filed as a proposed committee bill.
The United Way of Florida, in partnership with our Early Learning Partnership and Advocacy Group colleagues will spend the next few days analyzing the bill's provisions and your next Legislative Link will provide an overview.  The Education Committee will discuss the bill next Wednesday afternoon, its next meeting.   

Meanwhile the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee released its preliminary 2013-2014 education funding plan, which includes a VPK reduction of $8.3 million attributable to an anticipated 8.3 projected reduction in enrollment in the program.

EconValueChildCareIndEconomic Value of the Child Care Industry


In July 2009, the Office of Early Learning released a study entitled, Early Learning Plays a Significant Role in Florida's Current and Future Economy.  In addition to considering increasing the school readiness budget for the first time since 2001 and reducing the 60,000+ waiting list for SR services, we hope Legislators recognize the economic strength the early learning industry brings to the Sunshine State.  Among others, the study found that in 2006 the industry paid more the $1.1 billion in wages to its almost 71,000 employees and provided nearly $2.9 billion in total output for our State. 


Early Learning:  A major economic engine for our State today; fueling tomorrow's engine.

No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.  -- Vladimir Lenin
MedicaidExpansionMedicaid Expansion Could Save Money


Last week's Legislative Link provided a brief overview of arguably the session's most controversial and costly issue: Medicaid expansion.

Beyond philosophical differences about the appropriate role of government, the key question lawmakers are considering is "How much will it cost?"  


Cost estimates vary widely.  But the most exhaustive analysis done to date concludes that Florida could actually save up to $100 million a year if expansion is implemented.  Read more.

PresumptiveEligibilityPresumptive Eligibility: Faster Health Care for Kids


Last week, the House Healthy Families Subcommittee unanimously passed CS/HB 689.  Passage reflects recognition by Committee members that speeding the process for children to receive health care will save the state money, ease the burden of low income parents, and ensure thousands of Florida children get the health care they need when they need it.  Read more.
UncompensatedHealthCareUncompensated Health Care Costs Floridians Big


Much of the debate surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion centers on cost and whether the federal government will keep its promise to continue paying the majority of those costs in the future.

When other Floridians don't have health coverage, how much does it cost you? ... A 2009 study by the Center for American Action Fund entitled, The Cost Shift from the Uninsured,
found that the estimated cost of uncompensated care in Florida exceeds $4 billion and that you and I pay for it by paying an additional $510 for an individual health insurance policy and an additional $1,400 for a family policy.
ClawbackBillsMovingClawback Bills Moving


After a designated amount of time, if a person filing for bankruptcy has purchased a product, the bankruptcy court can't force the business to refund the amount of the purchase to pay creditors.  But if a person makes a charitable contribution, the bankruptcy court can "clawback" those contributions to pay creditors any time.  Bills making their way through the Legislature would help protect nonprofits form clawbacks.  Read more.
SchoolReadinessBenefitsDo School Readiness Benefits Really Last? ... Yes!


Policymakers and taxpayers often question whether the positive effects of school readiness programs, which are apparent in early grades, disappear in elementary and middle school.  A just-released study again confirms that the benefits remain strong and contribute greatly to school success.

The seven-year study by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers focuses on the long term effects of Preschool for New Jersey's poorest students.

The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES) "estimated the effects of preschool education programs on academic skills in language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science based on standardized tests given to all New Jersey children in 4th and 5th grade. The study found persistent gains in all tested subjects on the state assessments, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool."
HealthyFamiliesResearchHealthy Families: Research Supported


Healthy Families Florida (HFF) is arguably Florida's - and perhaps the Nation's - most research-proven and successful human service program.  The program's latest third party evaluation reveals that - among other outcomes such as increased parent employment and child immunization rates - 95 percent of high risk children who complete the program are free from abuse and neglect three years after program completion.
New research shows that the value of home visiting initiatives like HFF extends far beyond the purpose of this child abuse and neglect prevention program:

School readiness:  Home visiting has significant positive impacts on the school readiness of children entering first grade (State University of New York-Albany, executive summary).

Lasting effects:   Home visiting can result in better child development in pre-k, better fifth grade outcomes, and more stimulating and nurturing home environments (Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, executive summary).

These research-proven results add to those found by HFF evaluators and are compelling reasons why Florida lawmakers should recognize that HFF is a smart investment in Florida's future.  We urge the Legislature to reinvest an additional $10 million in HFF to bring this proven program back to its fiscal year 2009-2010 level of $28.1 million.
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)
CriminalGangPreventionCriminal Gang Prevention


HB 407 is comprehensive gang prevention bill that, among others:

  • increases the penalty for trespassing in school safety zones; and
  • makes it a second degree felony for a person to intentionally cause, encourage, solicit, or recruit another person under the age of 13 to become a criminal gang member where a condition of membership or continued membership is the commission of any crime.

Last Action:  03/20/13 HOUSE Favorable by Judiciary Committee.

ESEExceptional Student Education


Federal law requires states to make free appropriate public education available to children with disabilities, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Federal Code of Regulations, state laws, and State Board of Education Rules outline specific requirements for providing that education. 
CS/HB 465 contains numerous provisions for parental consent and notification and, among others, requires:
  • school districts to provide exceptional student education services to home education students;
  • all schools in every school district to complete a Best Practices in Inclusive Education assessment every three years, in conjunction with a Florida Inclusion Network facilitator;  
  • districts to allow private instructional personnel hired by parents to enter the classroom to observe the student, collaborate with public instructional personnel, and provide services to the student; and
  • authorizes applicants for renewal of a professional certificate to earn at least one college credit or equivalent inservice points in instruction for teaching exceptional students.

Last Action:  03/20/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Choice & Innovation Subcommittee.

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.  -- H. L. Mencken
SchoolInstruction911School Instruction About 9/11


HB 559 requires public schools to provide instruction on the events surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the impact of those events on the nation.

Last Action:  03/18/13 HOUSE Favorable by K-12 Subcommittee.

DonationFoodDonation of Canned or Perishable Food


CS/HB 607 adds public schools to the list of defined donors protected from civil and criminal liability if they donate food to charitable organizations under the terms set forth in the statute.
Last Action: 03/18/13 HOUSE Favorable by K-12 Subcommittee.
RegFamilyMedLeaveRegulation of Family or Medical Leave Benefits


CS/CS/SB 726 preempts the regulation of private sector company family and medical leave benefits to the state.  Exceptions are provided for leave related to and arising directly from domestic violence and for federal laws or regulations governing family or medical leave benefits.  The bill also creates an Employer-Sponsored Benefits Task Force to analyze employer-sponsored family and medical leave benefits and the impact of the state preemption.
Last Action:  03/20/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Health Policy

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

 -- Mao Zedong

ProgAllInclusiveCareElderlyProgram of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly


CS/SB 748 authorizes two additional Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) sites, each with up to 300 slots.  One site is authorized to serve Duval, St. Johns, Baker, and Nassau Counties, and the second to serve Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Putnam, Suwannee, and Union Counties.

Last Action:  03/20/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Health Policy.

JumpStartLiteracyJump Start Literacy Pilot Project


CS/HB 803 requires the Office of Early Learning (OEL) within the Department of Education to establish a five-year Jump Start Literacy Pilot Project in St. Lucie County to assist low-income, at-risk children in developing emergent literacy skills.  The OEL, in consultation with the Early Learning Coalition of St. Lucie County shall select one or more municipalities to participate in the project and must seek partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and the business community to implement the project.

Last Action:  03/20/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Choice & Innovation Subcommittee.

OffensesAgainstUnbornOffenses Against Unborn Children


SB 876, also called the Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act, states that anyone who commits a crime causing bodily injury to or death of an unborn child commits a separate offense from any offenses committed against the mother of that child, and offenses committed against such a child are punished as if they had been committed against the pregnant mother. Assigning punishment for an offense against an unborn child does not require proof that the perpetrator had or should have had knowledge of the pregnancy or that he or she intended to cause death or harm to the child.

Last Action:  03/20/13 SENATE Favorable with 1 Amendment by Health Policy.

SchoolEmergProceduresSchool Emergency Procedures


CS/HB 989 revises provisions relating to school district policies and procedures for emergency drills and actual emergencies to require that such policies and procedures encompass "emergency lock down drills" and "emergency evacuation drills." The bill defines:

  • "Evacuation drill" as an "activity in which students and faculty practice the safest and quickest way to evacuate a school facility in case of an emergency"; and
  • "Lockdown drill" as an "activity in which students and faculty practice securing a school facility or rooms within the facility in case of an emergency in which hiding from a hostile danger is generally deemed safer than evacuating the building."

Last Action:  03/18/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by K-12 Subcommittee.

MandatoryReportsMandatory Reports of Child Abuse


SB 1162 creates two exceptions to the mandatory reporting of child abuse laws:  

  • An officer or employee of a law enforcement agency is not required to provide notice to the Department of Children and Families' (DCF or department) central abuse hotline (hotline) when an incident of suspected child abuse by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian or other person responsible for the child's welfare under investigation by law enforcement was originally reported to law enforcement by the hotline through the electronic transfer; and
  • The central abuse hotline is not required to electronically transfer calls and reports to the county sheriff's office if the incident of alleged child abuse by an adult other than a parent, legal custodian or other person responsible for the child's welfare was originally reported to the hotline by the county sheriff's office or another law enforcement agency.

Last Action:  03/18/13 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.

FLMarriageHandbookThe Florida Marriage Handbook


CS/HB 1163 creates a new Marriage Education Committee (Committee) and provides for creation of a Florida Marriage Handbook (Handbook).  The Handbook will provide information relating to resources, information, and skills to help couples have a healthy and successful marriage.  The Committee will consist of six marriage education and family advocates who will be responsible for raising the funds for creating and distributing the Handbook.

Last Action:  03/18/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Healthy Families Subcommittee.

ProtectionVulnerablePersonsProtection of Vulnerable Persons


SB 1222 deletes the minimum threshold amount ($300) necessary to trigger the enhanced third degree felony penalty when committing theft against a person 65 years of age or older.  The bill also deletes the definitions of "disabled adult" and "elderly person" and replaces them with "vulnerable adult."


Last Action:  03/18/13 SENATE Favorable by Criminal Justice.

IndependentLivingIndependent Living


CS/HB 1315 addresses numerous independent living issues.  Among others, it:

  • extends foster care to the age of 21 to allow youth to finish high school, earn a GED, pursue a post-secondary education, or begin a career;
  • provides eligibility requirements for extending foster care and provides a method for young adults who have left foster care to reapply for extended foster care;
  • changes requirements related to foster parents by creating a reasonable and prudent parent standard to be used by foster parents when deciding whether to allow a child to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities;
  • restructures the Road-to-Independence Program to accommodate the differing needs of young adults;
  • requires the Department of Children and Families to ensure that former foster care youth have a post-secondary mentor; and
  • creates campus coaching positions to provide former foster care youth with on-campus support at post-secondary educational institutions.

Last Action:  03/18/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Healthy Families Subcommittee.

JuvJusticeEducProgJuvenile Justice Education Program


CS/SB 1406 makes changes to the provisions of law governing the accountability, deliverance, and review of juvenile justice education programs that provide educational services to students within the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

Last Action:  03/18/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Criminal Justice.

AttnysDepChildDisabilitiesAttorneys for a Dependent Child with Disabilities


CS/SB 1468 requires a court to appoint attorneys to represent dependent children having disabilities who either reside in a skilled nursing home facility or are under consideration for placement in a skilled nursing facility.

Last Action:  03/18/13 SENATE Favorable with CS by Judiciary.


More Money for Next Year & Allocations


Afterschool: Must-Use Educational Tool


Senate Budget Vote Scheduled


Four Million Floridians Uninsured


Early Learning Bill Released


Economic Value of the Child Care Industry


Medicaid Expansion Could Save Money


Presumptive Eligibility: Faster Health Care for Kids


Uncompensated Health Care Costs Floridians Big


Clawback Bills Moving


Do School Readiness Benefits Really Last? ... Yes!


Healthy Families: Research Supported





Criminal Gang Prevention


Exceptional Student Education


School Instruction About 9/11


Donation of Canned or Perishable Food


Regulation of Family or Medical Leave Benefits


Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly


Jump Start Literacy Pilot Project


Offenses Against Unborn Children


School Emergency Procedures


Mandatory Reports of Child Abuse


The Florida Marriage Handbook


Protection of Vulnerable Persons


Independent Living


Juvenile Justice Education Program


Attorneys for a Dependent Child with Disabilities



United Way of Florida bills of interest, updated weekly.
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Session Dates

March 5

- First day of the 2013 Florida Legislative Session 

April 8 & 9

- Children's Week

May 3

- Last day of Session 


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