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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #9                                                                                                   MAY 3, 2013
old and new capitol 
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The End Is Near!
Legislators are on track to end the 60 day Legislative session today.  As this Legislative Link went to press, bills were flying through both chambers in a mad rush to get priority issues off the table.  This much-abbreviated Legislative Link will be followed in the near future - after the dust settles from the last day of frenetic lawmaking - with a comprehensive Wrap-Up Edition highlighting key issues addressed and not addressed by the 2013 Legislature.

EarlyLearningEarly Learning Bill: Will it Pass?


Today the Senate is expected to pass CS/HB 7165, which it accepted from the House and slightly amended.  Because amendments were added, the bill will have to go back to the House for its review and vote.  Time is short and most bills in the same position as this one will die.  However, legislative sponsors have indicated that both chambers will vote the bill out today, and we will have a new early learning law on the books by days end ... More to come.

Look to the future, because that is where you'll spend the rest of your life.  -- George Burns

WorstinDecade2012 "Worst in a Decade" for High-Quality Pre-K


State pre-K funding shrank by over half a billion dollars from the 2010-11 to the 2011-12 school year, the largest one-year decrease in the last 10 years, according to the new National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) State of Preschool 2012 Yearbook.  The decline is part of a long-term trend not entirely attributable to the Great Depression.

And even after states saved money by holding enrollment constant, state funding per pre-K child still dropped by more than $400 below the previous year's levels - and by more than $1,100 dollars since 2002 - to $3,841.  This is the first year since NIEER started tracking pre-K funding in 2002 that per-child spending has dropped below $4,000.  Florida's VPK spending per pupil will be $2,383 next school year if the 2013-2014 budget that will be voted on by the Legislature is passed later today.

MentallyIllMentally Ill May Not be Able to Buy Guns


Florida law prohibits licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers from selling or delivering firearms to persons who have been "adjudicated mentally defective" or who have been "committed to a mental institution" by a court.

Because the definition of "committed to a mental institution" does not include persons who have voluntarily admitted themselves to a mental institution, such persons can legally purchase firearms.

The Sandy Hook massacre that took place shortly before the 2013 Session sparked cries for gun control throughout Florida and the nation.  CS/CS/HB 1355 will likely be the most prominent gun control legislation passed by the 2013 Legislature.  The bill was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the Governor for his signature.  It would prevent people who voluntarily admit themselves to a mental institution from purchasing firearms under certain circumstances.

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

SessionMeltDownSession Melt Down


The House and Senate and - to a large extent - Republicans and Democrats have been singing kumbayah this session; just the normal partisan wrangling.  But on the session's 57th day, the wheels came off the wagon.

Medicaid expansion was the biggest factor.  On Tuesday, the Senate passed its bipartisan version of expansion (CS/SB 1816) that would allow the state to accept more than $50 billion in federal funding and offer health coverage to more than 1 million Floridians.  Last week, the House passed its version (CS/HB 7169), which would refuse the federal money and instead use $237 million in state funds to buy private health insurance for about 115,000 residents.

On Tuesday, House Democrats, angry that the House has refused to consider accepting the federal dollars to cover more people, used a parliamentary maneuver to force all bills to be read in full before proceeding with amendments and votes.

Speaker Weatherford reacted in-kind by forcing all House members to remain in their seats while bills were being read by an automated reader named Mary, calling frequent quorum calls, and instructing House sergeants to escort members to their seats when they wandered away from their desks too long.

On Wednesday evening, House members agreed they had made their cases and the House returned to business as usual.  However, because of the significant delays that took place on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, many bills that appeared on their way to passage will die.

BudgetPoisedBudget Poised for Passage


House and Senate leaders came to consensus on the next year's $74.4 billion budget (SB 1500) early Monday afternoon.  The agreement set the stage for the Legislature to vote out the budget as early as Thursday afternoon, following the constitutionally mandated 72 hour cooling-off period.

As this Legislative Link went to press, both chambers were debating the budget and preparing to vote it out.  After that task is completed the Legislature will have completed its only constitutionally-required session responsibility and, after passing remaining priority bills, they will head home for the interim.

Late success in the budget included an additional $3 million for Healthy Families Florida, $3 million for the Early Steps program, $5.1 million for School Readiness, and $4.75 million for homeless services.

FosterYouthFoster Youth Helped


Young adults coming out of the foster care system face extraordinary challenges.  Consequently, they suffer from homelessness and are involved in the criminal justice system more than their peers who have never been in foster care. 

On Wednesday, the House passed CS/SB 1036, a bill that will allow young adults to remain in foster care until they are 21 and that will provide greater supports to them when they leave, so they have greater opportunities to have better and more productive lives.  Read more.


The End Is Near!


Early Learning Bill:  Will it Pass?


2012 "Worst in a Decade" for High Quality Pre-K


Mentally Ill May Not be Able to Buy Guns


Session Melt Down


Budget Poised for Passage


Foster Youth Helped



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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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