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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #2March 17, 2014
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 Process Underway


The most recent estimate of state revenue projects an additional $1.4 billion, $170 million higher than the previous estimate.  This will fund increases for programs and services, as well as the tax cuts proposed by Governor Scott. Last week, House and Senate leadership released their committee allocations (the amount of money for each appropriations subcommittee).  Now the work of crafting their proposed 2014-2015 budgets begins.  Read more.


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Child Welfare System Reforms

Last week, the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee voted out three child welfare bills: SB 1666, SB 1668 and SB 1670.  Totaling 112 pages, these three bills are intended to work together to address major problems facing the troubled child welfare system, including increased training and qualifications for child protective investigators, and revised responsibilities for both the Department of Children and Families and the community-based care lead agencies that manage the children in the system.  The House Healthy Families Subcommittee will vote on its 'omnibus' 109-page child welfare bill, HFS 3, this week.  Read more.


Nonprofits: Regulating and Protecting Charities


Last summer, the Tampa Bay Times ran a series of investigative articles about America's Worst Charities, which annually receive more than $1 billion dollars in donations from unsuspecting contributors.

In response, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam crafted comprehensive legislation further regulating charity fundraising, which is making its way through the legislative process.  Read more


KidCare Bills Stalled, Action Needed


Children of legal immigrants currently must wait five years to be eligible for KidCare, Florida's Children's Health Insurance Program.  HB 7 (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami) removes the 5-year ban on eligibility.  The bill passed its first committee of reference unanimously in February, but has not been scheduled for further hearings in the House.  The Senate companion bill SB 282 (Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah), has not been heard yet.  These bills, if enacted, would extend health coverage to an estimated 25,555 children.  Contact your legislators to urge support for these bills.


Bills to Watch This Week: Kids' I.D. Theft


CS/CS/HB 151 and CS/CS/CS/SB 242 Security of Protected Consumers Information create the "Keeping I.D. Safe (KIDS) Act" to authorize a representative, guardian or other advocate of a minor consumer younger than sixteen years of age to place a security freeze on that consumer's credit report.  The bill also directs credit-reporting agencies to create a credit record for the protected consumer in the event that the consumer does not yet have a credit report file.  The security freeze prohibits consumer reporting agencies from releasing the consumer report or record or any information contained within the report or record without the authorized consent of the protected consumer's representative, except in certain specific circumstances.  These bills are scheduled for Floor votes in the House and Senate later this week.


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.