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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #8                                                                                               APRIL 26, 2013
old and new capitol 
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Budget$74+ Billion Budget Nearly Complete


Last Friday, House and Senate budget negotiators began in earnest their work to reconcile the differences between the proposed 2013-2014 State budgets their respective chambers passed last week.  The budget conference process, as usual, was exhausting, often contentious, and largely hidden from public view as legislative leaders pounded out hard compromises on numerous issues.

On Wednesday, the budget differences that the conference committees could not resolve were "bumped" to Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron and House Appropriations Chair Seth McKeel.  As this Legislative Link went to press, they had only met publicly once, and had not addressed education or health and human services issues.  Two of those issues of great import to United Ways are funding for Early Steps and equity reallocation for Early Learning Coalitions.  Next week's Legislative Link will provide an update on budget issues.

MedicaidWill Medicaid be Addressed?


Heading into the final week of session, the issue that has overshadowed all others during the last eight weeks appeared to be no closer to resolution than two months ago.

Governor Scott wants to pull down $50 billion of federal money over the next 10 years to provide health care to almost one million poor Floridians through Medicaid.  The Senate appears poised to pass a compromise that will draw down the federal dollars and plug them into the private sector rather than Medicaid.  Governor Scott will support this approach.  And the House has staunchly refused the federal dollars, instead proposing that the State appropriate a couple hundred million dollars to help a fraction of those who would be helped under the Senate or Scott plans.

If unresolved at session's scheduled end next Friday, the question then becomes whether or not the Legislature will wait until next year or convene in special session to resolve the issue.  Business interests, labor advocates, faith based groups, and health care providers, who have been working hard all session to get the Legislature to accept the hybrid Senate plan, will push for a special session and believe the pressure to hold one will be compelling as health care costs continue to increase.

EarlyLearningEarly Learning Passes House


The Session's major early learning legislation passed the House on Wednesday.  CS/HB 7165 addresses numerous issues related to governance, accountability, transparency and fraud prevention.  The Senate companion bill,CS/CS/SB 1722, was on the Senate Special Order Calendar as this Legislative Link went to press.  Overview of early learning bills.

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

-- Alexander Hamilton

HealthyFamiliesHealthy Families Florida & Infant Mental Health: Imperative


Compelling evidence has linked toxic early childhood adverse experiences with a cascade of learning and behavioral challenges in school as well as a lifetime of serious health problems. 

This is the reason Healthy Families Florida deserves greater support from the Florida Legislature.  A proven program with a 98 percent success rate in preventing abuse and neglect in Florida's highest risk families, HFF is slated to receive $10 million less next year than it did just three years ago.  With two Florida children dying every week from abuse or neglect and more than 50,000 being abused each year, there is no excuse for under-funding this nationally-recognized, proven program.

We encourage readers to attend the Florida Association of Infant Mental Health (FAIMH) 13th Annual Conference on June 12 in Tampa to learn more from world leaders in the science of trauma, toxic stress, and effective interventions.  This year's conference will also include key state and community leaders to help strategize ways to integrate infant mental health into early childhood systems, including home visiting, Part C, child welfare, and early education & care.  More about the Conference.

ClawbackClawback Goes to Governor


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.  However, if a person makes a charitable contribution, the bankruptcy court can "clawback" those contributions to pay creditors any time.  On Thursday, the Senate passed CS/HB 95, which will protect nonprofits from this inequity in the future.  Read more.

Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it. -- George Bernard Shaw

ServiceSeniorsService to Seniors - Nominate Today!


Do you know a person or group making a positive impact on older Floridians?  Now you can do something to recognize them!  The Florida Council on Aging (FCOA) is accepting nominations for the 2013 Quality Senior Living Awards Program.  Since 1981, this statewide awards program has commended individuals and organizations that positively impact the quality of life of Florida's seniors.  This year's award winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 13, at the 2013 Florida Conference on Aging at the Grande Lakes J.W. Marriott in Orlando.  Each winner will receive an award package valued at over $400.  Submit your nomination today.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.
-- Milton Friedman
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)

JuvenileJusticeJuvenile Justice Education Programs


CS/SB 1406 makes changes to provisions of law governing the accountability, deliverance, and review of juvenile justice education programs providing services to students in the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) by, among others:

  • requiring the Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with DJJ, to develop a comprehensive accountability and school improvement process;
  • 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 delivery of educational services by prevention, day treatment, and residential programs;
  • requiring DJJ, in consultation with DOE, to publish - by March 1 of each year - a report on program costs and effectiveness, educational performance of students, and recommendations for modification or elimination of programs or program activities;
  • requiring school districts and juvenile justice education providers, in collaboration with others, to develop a transition plan during a student's stay in a program; and
  • requiring prevention and day treatment programs to provide career readiness and exploration opportunities, as well as truancy and dropout prevention intervention services.

Last Action: 4/22/13 SENATE Favorable by Education.

BullyingBullying in Public Schools


CS/SB 626 creates the "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:  04/22/13 SENATE Favorable by Rules.

HSAthleticsHigh School Athletics


CS/SB 1164 would expand student rights regarding eligibility, transfers, and due process protections during Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) investigations and eligibility determinations.  The bill would allow a student who attends a public or private school that does not offer an extracurricular activity to participate in that activity at another public or private school, limited to one additional extracurricular activity at a different school each academic year, and subject to other requirements.  The bill would prohibit student ineligibility if the student plays on a non-school team affiliated with a school, or participates in activities sponsored by a member school, if the student subsequently enrolls at such school (i.e., summer league or out-of-season/league team).

Last Action:  04/22/13 SENATE Favorable by Education.

BacktoSchoolBack to School Sales Tax Holiday


CS/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 $28.3million to General Revenue for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 and a nonrecurring, negative impact of $6.4 million to local governments.

Last Action:  04/23/13 SENATE Favorable by Appropriations.

ConsumerFinanceConsumer Finance Charges


The Florida Consumer Finance Act (Act) sets maximum interest rates for consumer finance loans, which are "loan[s] of money, credit, goods, or a provision of a line of credit, in an amount or to a value of $25,000 or less at an interest rate greater than 18 percent per annum." 

Consumer finance loans, made by lenders licensed by the State, may charge a maximum rate of:

  • 30 percent a year, computed on the first $2,000 of the principal amount;
  • 24 percent a year on that part of principal exceeding $2,000, but not exceeding $3,000; and
  • 18 percent per year on that part of principal exceeding $3,000. 

SB 282  would increase the amount of principle that can be charged the higher rate - raising the 30 percent level to $3,000, the 24 percent level to $3,000 - $4,000, and the 18 percent level to $4,000.


Last Action:  04/24/13 SENATE Passed.

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.  However, the Miami Children's Initiative, Inc. is the only one codified in statute. 

CS/CS/HB 411 codifies in statute the New Town Success Zone and the Parramore Kidz Zone.  The bill states that the initiatives are designed to encompass an area large enough to include all necessary components of community life, but small enough to reach every member of each neighborhood who is willing to participate.

Last Action:  04/24/13 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 co-signed 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.

Last Action:  04/25/13 HOUSE Passed.


$74+ Billion Budget Nearly Complete


Will Medicaid be Addressed?


Early Learning Passes House


Healthy Families Florida & Infant Mental Health: Imperative


Clawback Goes to Governor


Service to Seniors - Nominate Today!





Juvenile Justice Education Programs


Bullying in Public Schools


High School Athletics


Back to School Sales Tax Holiday


Consumer Finance Charges


Children's Initiatives


Restitution for Juvenile Offenses



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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 


When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.

-- George Burns

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