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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
WRAP-UP ISSUE                                                                                     MAY 10, 2013
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LastLLLast 2013 Legislative Link


This will be the final edition of your 2013 Legislative Link.  We hope it was a key resource for you and helped you gain greater insight into the workings of the 2013 Legislature.  If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our coverage to support your needs, please let us know.  Enjoy the interim!

SolidSessionSolid Session for Children and Families


Last Friday at 7:16 PM, the 2013 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature came to an end.  By sine die, fences had - at least temporarily - been mended between the House and Senate, which had been at war earlier in the week.

The session generally turned out to be a good one for Florida's children and families, with one glaring exception:  The Legislature failed to pass bipartisan, Senate-crafted legislation implementing Medicaid expansion, leaving $50+ billion federal dollars on the table and one million Floridians without health care coverage.

But key early learning legislation and legislation that could transform the lives of children and youth in foster care passed.  Programs fundamentally important to the health and well-being of our children and families received funding increases, including Healthy Families Florida, School Readiness, Early Steps, Healthy Start, Community Care for the Elderly, homeless services, and more.

Next year's $74.5 billion budget - $4 billion more than this year's - puts an end to more than three years of budget cutting that has stymied the ability of educators and human service providers to adequately serve their students and clients.  As the economy continues to rebound, next year should be even brighter for Florida's children and families.

FLUWPrioritiesFlorida United Way Priorities


Florida's 32 United Ways lead the state in investing private contributions, generously provided by people from all walks of life, in health, education, income, and safety net initiatives that improve the lives of individuals and families - and entire communities - every day.  United Ways are local people solving local problems with local solutions; people and communities that Live United.

While United Way supports a range of issues to advance its mission, the 2013 Florida United Way Consensus Legislative Agenda represented the priorities that Florida's United Ways targeted during 2013 Florida Legislative Session: early learning, Community Care for the Elderly, homeless, and KidCare.  Read more.

I can't understand why I flunked American history.  When I was a kid, there was so little of it.  -- George Burns



Having an additional $4 billion to plug into Florida's budget brightened the picture for most state-funded sectors this session.  Next year's $784.5 billion budget includes numerous funding increases for services that have struggled not only to continue providing quality services, but to even survive through five years of budget cuts and belt tightening, combined with skyrocketing need caused by the Great Recession.

Even though we all breathed a sigh of relief as the Legislature funneled much-needed funds to help children and families, analysts project we won't reach 2005-2006 budget levels again until 2014-2015.  We have a long way to go, but this year was a solid start.  Among others, some of the key funding issues supported by the United Way of Florida, included:

  • School Readiness:  +$5 million
  • Homeless:  +$1.75 million
  • Community Care for the Elderly:  +17 percent
  • Healthy Families Florida:  +$3 million
  • T.E.A.C.H.:  $3 million maintained
  • Early Steps:  +$3 million
  • Guardian ad Litem Program:  +$3 million

Governor Scott has until May 24 to sign or veto the budget.  Indications are that he will sign it, but will use his veto pen to eliminate specific line items he opposes.

EarlyLearningEarly Learning Bill Passes


As the 2013 Session wound down, early learning advocates became more and more concerned that the session's key early learning bill might succumb to time.  Fortunately, in the final hours the bill passed.  CS/HB 7165 addresses numerous issues related to governance, accountability, transparency and fraud prevention.  Read more.

MedicaidMedicaid Expansion Dies, For Now


Before the 2013 Legislative Session began, Republican leaders and both Chambers agreed Florida should not accept $50+ billion over the next 10 years from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage to about one million poor Floridians.  Citing numerous concerns about the feds keeping their promise to keep the money flowing in future years, the capacity of the health care system to accommodate an influx of that many new patients, and others, the Governor, Speaker and President were in lock-step.

Then, shortly after session began, Governor Scott changed his mind and voiced his support for the expansion.

Later, Senator Joe Negron crafted a hybrid approach that would use the federal funds to offer private coverage to a large portion of the currently uninsured through an expansion of the Healthy Kids program (CS/SB 1816).  On a strong bi-partisan vote, Senator Negron's proposed language passed the Senate as an amendment to the House bill. 

But Speaker Weatherford and future speaker Richard Corcoran stuck to their guns, steadfastly refusing to accept the federal dollars, and instead proposing that the state use a couple hundred million dollars of state funds to provide $2,000 subsidies to a fraction of the number of people who would have received coverage under pure Medicaid expansion or the Negron plan.  CS/HB 7169 passed the House on a party line vote that sparked the greatest partisan conflict of the session.

Ultimately, neither bill passed the Legislature.

The question now is whether the Legislature will wait until next session to address the issue or will reconvene in special session to do so.

The day after session, Democrats formally requested that Governor Scott call a special session, noting that the state has until January to create a plan and accept the full $50+ billion to provide coverage to low income Floridians.

Only time will tell what path Florida will travel on this issue; an issue causing angst throughout the country.

KeyChildrensHealthKey Children's Health Bills Die


Two barriers to accessing health care for Florida's children can be easily remedied by amending Florida's KidCare law to allow legally residing immigrant children to get into the program without having to wait five years, and allowing children to be presumptively eligible when they apply, so they don't have to wait to get health care they may need immediately.  Unfortunately, bills filed to eliminate these unnecessary barriers failed to pass this session.  Read more.

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. -- Abraham Lincoln

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.  The 2013 Legislature passed CS/HB 95, which will protect nonprofits from this inequity in the future.  Read more.

NewDayFosterNew Day for Foster Kids


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.

QualityParentingQuality Parenting for Children in Foster Care


Foster children face hefty challenges, and those transitioning into adulthood face hurdles most of us couldn't clear.  Halfway through session, the Senate passed CS/HB 215, and sent it to the Governor.  The bill grants foster parents the authority to act as parents to foster children in their care; normalizing - to the extent possible - a situation that is not normal.  Read more.

Mrs. Lindsay - "You certainly look cool." 
Yogi Berra - "Thanks, you don't look so hot yourself."
-- Yogi Berra
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)



CS/HB 93 creates and revises multiple sections of Florida Statutes relating to homelessness.  Among others, the bill:

  • authorizes collection of voluntary contributions of $1 added to motor vehicle registration and driver's license fees to aid the homeless;
  • replaces the Emergency Financial Assistance Program for Families with a homeless prevention grant program administered by local homeless continuums of care to provide emergency financial assistance to families facing the loss of their current homes due to financial or other crises; and
  • limits the amount a lead agency may spend on administrative costs under a Challenge Grant to eight percent.

The Department of Children and Families estimates a revenue increase of $20,000 per year to benefit the homeless from the collection of voluntary contributions. 

TextingDrivingTexting While Driving


In 2011, 3,331 people in the U.S. were killed and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, a majority of whom were using a handheld cellular device.  Approximately 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

35 states and the District of Columbia have passed a ban on texting while driving.  In Florida, there are currently no prohibitions related to texting or talking on a communications device while driving, although there are prohibitions against vehicle operators wearing headsets, headphones or other listening devices.

CS/CS/CS/SB 52 is the newly-created "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law".  It prohibits operation of a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other text in a handheld wireless communication device, or while sending or reading data in the device.



CS/CS/HB 609 defines and prohibits cyberbullying, and specifies the circumstances under which bullying, cyberbullying and harassment of any student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution is prohibited.  The bill requires the Department of Education (by October 1, 2013) and school districts (by December 1, 2013) to incorporate cyberbullying into their model policies on bullying and harassment.

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.
CriminalGangPreventionCriminal Gang Prevention


HB 407 is a 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.
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/SB 1108 creates a number of new requirements that allow for increased parental involvement, clarify student eligibility for services, and specify school and program accountability requirements.  Among others, it 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; and
  • school 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.

The bill also provides that a student with a disability for whom the individual education plan (IEP) team determines is prevented by a circumstance or condition from physically demonstrating the mastery of skills that have been acquired and are measured by the statewide standardized assessment, a statewide standardized end-of-course assessment, or an alternate authorized assessment shall be granted an extraordinary exemption from the administration of the assessment under certain circumstances.

FinancialLiteracyFinancial Literacy Gets a Boost


According to data provided by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 55 percent of teens say they want to learn more about how to manage their money and 85 percent 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 bill also 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.

ConsumerFinanceChargesConsumer Finance Charges Increase


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 will increase the amount of principal that can be charged the higher rate - raising the 30 percent level to $3,000 and the 24 percent level to $3,000 - $4,000.

(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)
InspectionLicensedInspection of Licensed Child Care Facilities


CS/SB 416 would have required the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the local licensing agency to provide each parent of a child attending a licensed child care facility with a copy of the facility's inspection report within 72 hours after the report is completed and accepted.

SummerCampsSummer Camps


CS/SB 630 would have required the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to license summer day camps and summer 24 hour camps.

FoodDonationFood Donation


CS/HB 607 would have added public schools that participate in school lunch and breakfast programs subsidized by the federal Government to the list of defined donors protected from civil and criminal liability if they donate food to charitable organizations.

NewbornHeartNewborn Heart Screening


CS/SB 124 would have required the Department of Health (DOH) to adopt and enforce rules requiring hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and birthing centers to screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) within the first 24 hours of life or before the newborn is discharged.

ProtectionEldersProtection of Elders


CS/CS/HB 253 would have changed the standard for determining if an adult needs protective services to require only that the vulnerable adult's ability to consent be impaired before protective actions may be taken.

DDSPDevelopmental Disabilities Savings Program


CS/HB 339 would have created a Developmental Disabilities Savings Program (DDSP).  Parents or others could have deposited funds into the DDSP and used those funds to pay to continue services for a disabled individual who has "aged-out" of eligibility for those services.

JuvenileJusticeJuvenile Justice Education Program


CS/HB 441 would have required the Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), to monitor and report on the educational performance of students in commitment, day treatment, prevention, and detention programs.

SchoolSafetySchool Safety


SB 514 would have created 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 the school board.

ReviewDOEAReview of Department of Elder Affairs


HB 601 would have directed the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to conduct a review and evaluation of the Department of Elderly Affairs (DOEA) and its offices, divisions, programs, and functions.

PACEProgram for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly


CS/CS/SB 748 would have authorized two additional sites for the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) with up to 300 slots each.

RestitutionRestitution for Juvenile Offenses


CS/CS/CS/HB 785 would have required the court to order a child and the child's parent or legal guardian to pay restitution.

SchoolInstruction911School Instruction About 9/11


HB 559 would have required 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.

JumpStartJump Start Literacy Pilot Program


CS/CS/CS/HB 803 would have required 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.

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.

SchoolEmergencySchool Emergency Procedures


CS/HB 989 would have revised 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."

MandatoryReportsMandatory Reports of Child Abuse


SB 1162 would have created two exceptions to laws mandating reporting of child abuse for certain law enforcement officers and the central abuse hotline.

FloridaMarriageHandbookThe Florida Marriage Handbook


CS/HB 1163 would have created a new Marriage Education Committee (Committee) and a Florida Marriage Handbook (Handbook) providing information relating to resources, information, and skills to help couples have a healthy and successful marriage.

ProtectionVulnerableProtection of Vulnerable Persons


SB 1222 would have eliminated 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.

AttorneysDependentChildAttorneys for a Dependent Child with Disabilities


CS/SB 1468 would have required 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 2013 Legislative Link


Solid Session for Children and Families


Florida United Way Priorities




Early Learning Bill Passes


Medicaid Expansion Dies, For Now


Key Children's Health Bills Die


Clawback Goes to Governor


New Day for Foster Kids


Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care







Texting While Driving




Children's Initiatives


Criminal Gang Prevention


Exceptional Student Education


Financial Literacy Gets a Boost


Consumer Finance Charges Increase




Inspection of Licensed Child Care Facilities


Summer Camps


Food Donation


Newborn Heart Screening


Protection of Elders


Developmental Disabilities Savings Program


Juvenile Justice Education Programs


School Safety


Review of Department of Elder Affairs


Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly


Restitution for Juvenile Offenses


School Instruction About 9/11


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


Attorneys for a Dependent Child with Disabilities 


United Way of Florida bills of interest, updated weekly.
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United Way of Florida, 307 E. Seventh Avenue, Tallahassee, FL  32303  -  phone: 850.488.8287

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