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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #7                                                                                             APRIL 19, 2013
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BudgetConfBudget Conferences Begin


Senate President Gaetz and House Speaker Weatherford announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement regarding initial budget allocations to each of five budget areas: Criminal & Civil Justice, Education, Health, Government and Transportation.  This marks the beginning of the budget conference process, by which joint House and Senate 'conference committees' meet to resolve the differences between House and Senate budget bills.  Committee members are appointed by Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz.  The conference committees will meet today and over the weekend.  Any unresolved budget issues will be 'bumped up' next Tuesday, April 23, to be resolved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs.  Issues that cannot be resolved by the chairs will be decided by the Speaker and President.  The final version of the budget must be presented to the Governor by the end of the session.  Read more.

EarlyLearningEarly Learning Update, Fact and Opinion


The Early Learning bills in the House and Senate are moving forward and we anticipate one of them passing by session's end.

What do the House and Senate bills provide for, and where are we headed?  Read more.

MedicaidExpansionMedicaid Expansion Alternatives in House and Senate


Perhaps the single biggest question of the 2013 Legislative Session is:  "How will Florida respond to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?"  House leaders are loathe to accept the billions of federal dollars that will be available to provide health coverage to almost one million Floridians, fearing the money will dry up at some point in the future and the state will be left holding the bag.  Two proposals are being considered in the Senate, one that uses the federal dollars and one that doesn't.  Read more.

It's so cold here in Washington, D.C., that politicians have their hands in their own pockets.  -- Bob Hope

BecomeFosterParentBecome a Foster Parent!


Around 9,000 Florida children are removed form their homes each year because they have been abused by a family member.  Most are placed with a relative until they can return home.  But many do not have an appropriate relative who can care for them in their greatest hour of need.

Florida's Child Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption, Tanya Wilkins, is leading a statewide charge to help people understand the extraordinary benefits of providing the love and support these children so desperately need and to find adults who are willing to do just that as foster parents.

Fostering Florida's Future is making great headway thanks to Mrs. Wilkins leadership, but most importantly to the many parents and families who are opening their arms and their homes to the many newborns, toddlers, school-aged children, and teens who have no where else to turn.  Visit Fostering Florida's Future today and consider becoming a foster parent!

FinancialLiteracyFinancial Literacy Getting a Boost


According to data provided by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 55% of teens say that they want to learn more about how to manage their money and 85% of American parents believe a course in personal finance should be a high school graduation requirement.

CS/CS/SB 1076 is a comprehensive 144-page bill that provides curricular innovations and targeted funding to enable Florida's public schools, colleges, and universities to better prepare students for future occupations and careers.

The bill puts into statute the current requirement that financial literacy be included in high school graduation requirements as part of a required credit in economics.  More importantly, and setting the stage for real financial literacy gains next year, the also bill requires the Department of Education to "prepare an analysis of the costs associated with implementing a separate, one-half credit course in financial literacy" and to "work with one or more nonprofit organizations with proven expertise in the area of personal finance" as they do so.

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.  And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen. -- Winston Churchill

InfantMortalityInfant Mortality Rate Falls


Today's New York Times reports "that the nation's infant mortality rate fell by 12 percent from 2005 through 2011, a promising pattern that researchers say may be due in part to a decline in premature births."  When mortality rates fall, parents and families are spared untold grief and taxpayers save money. A win-win for all.


1,372 infants died in Florida in 2011, a number significantly less than that reported in last week's Legislative Link.  While this number also reflects great improvement, it is still abysmally high.  Thanks to the good work of Healthy Start - and support by the Legislature - we will be able to continue that downward trend.

You can tell he used to be a rancher.  He squeezes Republicans like he's milking a cow.
-- Bob Hope on Lyndon Johnson
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)

TextingTexting While Driving


CS/CS/CS/SB 52 creates the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law."  It prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other text in a handheld wireless communication device, or sending or reading data in the device, for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication.  The bill makes exceptions for emergency workers performing official duties, reporting emergencies or suspicious activities, and for receiving various types of navigation information, emergency traffic data, radio broadcasts, and autonomous vehicles.  A first violation is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a fine of $30 plus court costs that vary by county.  A second violation committed within 5 years after the first is a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs.

Last Action:  04/16/13 SENATE Passed.

PACEPACE for the Elderly


The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a federal program that integrates Medicaid and Medicare programs and is available to qualified Floridians in need of nursing home care.  PACE offers a continuum of services to individuals in the community with the goal of delaying nursing home entry.  There are currently four PACE providers operating in Florida, serving clients in six counties.  

CS/CS/CS/HB 125 creates three new Pace Centers serving: 1) up to 300 individuals in Duval, St. Johns, Baker, and Nassau counties; 2) up to 300 enrollees in Alachua and Clay counties; and 3) up to 150 enrollees in Hernando and Pasco Counties.  The bill also provides requirements for PACE providers.

Last Action:  04/16/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Health & Human Services Committee.

DisabilityAwarenessDisability Awareness


CS/SB 226 changes current law to require, rather than authorize, district school boards to provide disability history and awareness instruction in all K-12 public schools beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.  The instruction must be integrated into the existing school curriculum and be augmented by presentations from individuals who have a disability, are approved by the school or school district, and meet existing background screening requirements.  The bill also requires each public school in Florida to establish a disability history and awareness council and provides requirements for the councils.

Last Action:  04/17/13 SENATE  Favorable by Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

ChildrensInitiativesChildren's Initiatives


Florida children's initiatives, previously called Florida Children's Zones, "assist disadvantaged areas within the state in creating a community-based service network that develops, coordinates, and provides quality education, accessible health care, youth development programs, opportunities for employment, and safe and affordable housing for children and families living within its boundaries."

There are currently three Florida children's initiatives: the Miami Children's Initiative, Inc.; the New Town Success Zone in Jacksonville; and the Parramore Kidz Zone in Orlando.  The Miami Children's Initiative, Inc. is the only Florida children's initiative codified in statute.

CS/CS/HB 411 codifies in statute the New Town Success Zone and the Parramore Kidz Zone.

Last Action:  04/16/13 HOUSE Favorable with CS/CS by Health & Human Services Committee.

JuvenileJusticeJuvenile Justice Education Programs


CS/HB 441 revises the accountability of juvenile justice education programs (program) by, among others: 

  • requiring program and program activity cost and effectiveness data be provided to the Legislature and the public;
  • implementing an accountability system to meet client needs;
  • requiring the Department of Education (DOE) in partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to develop a comprehensive accountability and school improvement process;
  • requiring DOE in collaboration with DJJ to monitor and report on the educational performance of students in commitment, day treatment, prevention, and detention programs;
  • requiring DOE in consultation with DJJ, district school boards, and providers to adopt rules for objective and measurable student performance measures and program performance ratings for the delivery of educational services by prevention, day treatment, and residential programs;
  • requiring school districts and juvenile justice education providers, in collaboration with others to develop an individualized transition plan during a student's stay at a program; and
  • requiring cost and effectiveness information on programs and program activities be provided in order to compare, improve, or eliminate a program or program activity.

Last Action:  04/17/13 HOUSE Passed.

PublicSchoolSafetyPublic School Safety 


SB 514 creates the School Safety Act, authorizing counties to create independent special districts by ordinance to identify and assess the security and mental health referral needs of all schools served by their school boards.

Funding would be through an annual ad valorem tax of up to 0.5 mills, if approved by a majority of the electors in the county voting in a referendum held for that purpose.  Funds collected are intended to be used to support improvements in services for county schools and students, rather than a substitute for existing resources or resources that would otherwise be available for security and mental health referral needs. 

Last Action:  04/16/13 SENATE Favorable by Community Affairs.

Schoolinstruction9/11 School Instruction


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:  04/16/13 HOUSE Favorable by Education Committee.

BullyingBullying in Public Schools


CS/SB 626 "Imagine Sheterria Elliot Act."  It broadens the authority of a public K-12 school to discipline students for cyberbullying activities.  Under existing law, a school may discipline a student for cyberbullying if the student uses a school computer, computer system, or computer network.  Under the bill, a school may discipline a student for cyberbullying activities through the use of any computer located on school grounds, at the site of a school-related or sponsored program or activity, or on a school bus.

Last Action:  04/15/13 SENATE Favorable by Judiciary.

MandatoryReportsMandatory Reports of Child Abuse


HB 757 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:  04/17/13 HOUSE Passed.

RestitutionRestitution for Juvenile Offenses


Florida law authorizes a court with jurisdiction over a child that has been adjudicated delinquent to order the child to pay restitution to the victim for any damage or loss caused by the child's offense in a reasonable amount or manner.  Restitution may be satisfied by performing community service, or by monetary payments, with a promissory note cosigned by the child's parent or guardian.  A parent or guardian may be absolved of liability for restitution in their child's criminal case if the court makes a finding that the parent or guardian has made "diligent and good faith efforts to prevent the child from engaging in delinquent acts."

CS/CS/CS/HB 785  amends current law to provide that in cases where a court decides to order restitution, the court is required to enter a restitution order against both the child and the child's parent or guardian.

04/16/13 HOUSE  Favorable with CS by Judiciary Committee.

LiteracyJumpStartLiteracy Jump Start Pilot Project


CS/CS/CS/HB 803 requires the Department of Education (DOE) to establish a 5-year Literacy Jump Start Pilot Project in St. Lucie County to assist low-income, at-risk children to develop emergent literacy skills.  The DOE, in consultation with the Early Learning Coalition of St. Lucie County, must select one or more municipalities to participate in the project, and DOE must seek partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and the business community to implement it.

Last Action:  04/17/13 HOUSE Passed.

BacktoSchoolBack-to-School Sales Tax Holiday


SB 916 provides an exemption from state and local sales tax during the 3-day period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on August 2, 2013, through 11:59 p.m. on August 4, 2013, on purchases of clothing costing $75 or less per item, school supplies costing $15 or less per item, and computers costing $750 or less per item.

The Revenue Estimating Conference estimates that the bill will have a nonrecurring, negative impact of $28.3 million to General Revenue for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 and a nonrecurring, negative impact of $6.4 million to local governments.

Last Action:  04/17/13 SENATE  Favorable with CS by Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax.

SeniorServicesSenior Services


SB 976 creates the "Florida Act for Responsible Persons" (the act), which authorizes county governments to create countywide, independent special taxing districts to fund services for seniors.  The act is modeled after part V of ch.125, F.S., which authorizes counties to create independent taxing districts to fund children's services.

Last Action:  04/15/13 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.

SchoolSafetySchool Safety/Guns on Campus


CS/CS/HB 1097 authorizes a public or private school principal to designate a member of that principal's school personnel to carry a concealed weapon or firearm on school property.  Similar authority is provided to district school superintendents regarding administration buildings owned by the school district.  Weapons or firearms must only be carried in a concealed manner on the individual's person at all times while performing official school duties.  Such personnel must complete private security officer licensing training and statewide firearms license recertification training, with exceptions.

Last Action:  04/16/13 HOUSE  Favorable with CS by Judiciary Committee.

IndependentLivingIndependent Living


CS/CS/CS/HB 1315 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.  The bill provides eligibility requirements for the extension of foster care and provides a method for young adults who have left foster care to reapply for extended foster care.

The bill changes the requirements related to foster parents, to align their requirements with the quality parenting initiative and creates the 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.  The bill restructures the Road-to-Independence Program to accommodate the differing needs of young adults and creates new requirements for eligibility of the program, including a requirement that the young adult be pursuing a post-secondary education. 

Last Action:  04/16/13 HOUSE  Favorable with CS by Health & Human Services Committee.

VictimsVictims of Human Trafficking


CS/CS/HB 1325 authorizes a victim of human trafficking to petition the court for the expunction of any conviction for an offense committed while he or she was a victim of human trafficking.  A "victim of human trafficking" is defined as a person subjected to coercion for the purpose of being used in human trafficking, a minor who is a victim of human trafficking through coercion, or an individual subject to human trafficking as defined by federal law.  A petition must be initiated with due diligence after the victim has ceased to be a victim of human trafficking or has sought services for victims of human trafficking.

Last Action:  04/16/13 HOUSE  Favorable by Judiciary Committee.


Budget Conferences Begin


Early Learning Update, Fact and Opinion


Medicaid Expansion Alternatives in House and Senate


Become a Foster Parent!


Financial Literacy Getting a Boost


Infant Mortality Rate Falls





Texting While Driving


PACE for the Elderly


Disability Awareness


Children's Initiatives


Juvenile Justice Education Programs


Public School Safety


9/11 School Instruction


Bullying in Public Schools


Mandatory Reports of Child Abuse


Restitution for Juvenile Offenses


Literacy Jump Start Pilot Project


Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday


Senior Services


School Safety/Guns on Campus


Independent Living


Victims of Human Trafficking



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 


There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.

-- Alexis de Tocqueville

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