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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #7April 22, 2013
A weekly update during the Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
Top News: Budget Conferences Continue
The joint budget conference committees met over the weekend to reconcile House and Senate budget bills.  This year's surplus has made negotiations easier, but key differences, including teacher pay raises, higher education tuition increases, and healthcare spending must be resolved by April 23 at 5:00 PM.  Remaining issues will be 'bumped up' to the Appropriations Chairs and then to Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz.  Read more.
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United Way Priority Agenda Issue: Early Learning Update

Early learning bills CS/SB 1722 by Sen. John Legg (R-Lutz) and CS/HB 7165 by the House Education Committee are headed toward final votes.  The bills address governance, accountability and fraud prevention.  They differ on where the Office of Early Learning is placed within the Department of Education (DOE); and what percentage of funds Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs) must dedicate to childcare 'slots'.  Read more.  Meanwhile, the Early Learning budget remains flat, with the possible addition of $5.1 million to restore local ELC funding lost last year in a reallocation process.  Budget negotiations are underway.


Foster Care Bill Advances


Of the approximately 5,000 young adults age 13-18 in Florida foster care, many will drop out of high school or become homeless at age 18, when they 'age out' of the system.  CS/CS/CS/HB 1315 by Rep. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) creates an option to extend foster care to age 21, adding requirements for continued education, supervised living arrangements and mentoring.  HB 1315 and its companion bill, CS/SB 1036 by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice Beach) are heading for floor votes this week.
Financial Literacy Graduation Requirement Enhanced

Financial literacy is essential for young people graduating from high school.  A comprehensive education bill addressing career preparedness for Florida's students, CS/CS/SB 1076 puts into statute that financial literacy be included the economics course required for graduation.  Even more important, the bill directs the Department of Education to study the costs of requiring a separate course in financial literacy, and to enlist the help of nonprofit organizations with expertise in this area.  The bill passed the House and Senate and is waiting for the Governor's signature. 

Bills to Watch This Week:


Texting While Driving: CS/CS/CS/SB 52 by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice Beach) creates the 'Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law', making it a secondary offense.  Florida is one of only five states not outlawing texting while driving.  The bill passed the Senate and goes to the House this week.  The companion bill, CS/CS/HB 13 by Rep. Doug Holder (R-Sarasota) is also on the House floor.  Read more.

Questions or Comments?
If you have questions or comments regarding the United Gazette and how United Way is working in Tallahassee to support your community, contact Ted Granger or Jess Scher.