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Legislative Link
A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE #3                                                                                          MARCH 21, 2014
old and new capitol 
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ATrueLeaderA True Leader Passes


Former Governor Reuben Askew, died last Thursday at age 85.  He was elected the Sunshine State's 37th governor in 1970 after representing Pensacola in the Florida House and Senate for 12 years.  His eight years as governor coincided with the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and dramatic social change across the nation.

After leaving the governor's office, Askew served as President Carter's foreign trade envoy (1979-80), briefly ran for the Democratic nomination for president (1984), and dropped out of a U.S. Senate race in 1988 citing his disgust with the constant pressure to raise money rather than discuss issues.

This week, after Governor Scott ordered flags flown at half mast, the former governor's body lay in state in the Old Capitol and he was buried in Pensacola.

Governor Askew has long been hailed as a true leader and statesman.  His former chief of staff, Jim Apthorp, said, "I think the most significant thing about him was he believed government is a good thing and could do good things to help people."

InnocentsLostInnocents Lost Changes the Debate

Last weekend, the Miami Herald published the first edition of Innocents Lost, a groundbreaking - and heartbreaking - investigative series delving into the deaths of almost 500 children across Florida during the last six years, who had been touched by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the stories behind them.  The series renewed legislative energy to pass meaningful reforms and sent reform packages back to the drawing table.  Read more.

HealthyFamiliesHealthy Families Saves Lives & Money


Revamping Florida's child protection system is a priority during the 2014 Session.  Legislators - and even more-so, legislative staff - have spent thousands of hours identifying and drafting hoped-for solutions.  Ultimately, they will pour millions of dollars more into a system that exists largely because of family dysfunction.  What if we could reduce that dysfunction, so children and families never needed to have the system intervene?
  • Healthy Families Florida provides services for an annual cost of $1,800 per child.
  • Florida pays over $72,000 a year per victim for child welfare services, hospitalization, special education and juvenile justice costs associated with child abuse.
  • 98 percent of children served by Healthy Families are free from abuse and neglect and 95 percent are still free from abuse and neglect three years after completing the Healthy Families program.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. 

-- Aristotle

WhyChildrenDieWhy Children Die in Florida


As legislators try to find solutions to Florida's child protection challenges, they are considering a multitude of recommendations, studies, and options. 

The Florida Department of Children and Families Child Fatality Trend Analysis: January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013 provides great insight into why children die in Florida.  Among others, the Analysis concludes that:

  • Prior in-home services reduce the odds of death by 90 percent.
  • Each instance of a prior removal due to physical abuse increases the odds of death by a multiple of 14.
  • The impact of each prior removal due to parents who have abused alcohol or drugs increases the odds of death by a multiple of nearly 15.
  • The child having a physical disability increases the odds of death by a multiple of 17.
  • Each instance of prior removal due to sexual abuse increases the odds of death by a multiple of 6.
  • 75 percent of all child deaths occur between 0 and 2 years of age.
HelpMeGrowHelp Me Grow - Phenomenal!


The Help Me Grow Initiative, spearheaded by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Children's Trust in Miami, is a parent and provider tool that could form the foundation for a child growth and development system never before seen in Florida.

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, thanks to the good work of David Lawrence and the Children's Movement of Florida, is slated to receive $2 million to expand its reach.  Hopefully, some day it will be a statewide reality.  Read more.

CharityFundraisingOverhaulCharity Fundraising Overhaul


Last week's Legislative Link provided a general overview of comprehensive legislation working its way through the legislative process that could change the way charities in Florida do business.

Based on a series of articles in the Tampa Bay Times about America's Worst Charities, the legislation was crafted by Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam to prevent the misuse of Floridians' charitable contributions by cracking down on fraudulent and deceptive organizations.

CS/SB 638 and CS/HB 629 have implications for many nonprofits across Florida and both have passed two of their three referenced committees.  They will head to their respective floors before session's end.  Read more about the specific provisions in the bills.

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
-- Abraham Lincoln

HouseHealthCareAppropHouse Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Recommendations: Snapshot


Here are some recommendations for 2014-2015 funding from this week's House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:


-$36,283,678 - KidCare (due to projected transfers of kids to Medicaid under ACA).

+$20,000,000 - Home and Community Based Waiver (will serve 1,260 an additional individuals).

+$13,075,751 - Child Protective Investigator caseload reduction (will reduce caseload to 1:10 for CPIs and 1:6 supervisory ratio).

+$3,000,000 - Enhanced services for human trafficking victims.

+$8,058,814 - Sheriff's Child Protective Investigator caseload reduction.

+$10,000,000 - Increased number of Community Based Care case managers.

+$5,000,000 - Community Care for the Elderly wait list reduction.

I've had a good time, but this wasn't it.
-- Groucho Marx
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)

VolsforOrganizedVolunteers for Organized Youth Sports and Recreational Programs


SB 358 expands the current background screening requirements for coaches of youth athletic teams to cover all volunteers of youth sports and recreation authorities.  The bill provides definitions for "volunteer" and "youth sports or recreation authority".

The bill creates a rebuttable presumption that an authority that has followed the requirements of the bill was not negligent in authorizing a volunteer to participate in authority activities.

The bill requires recreational programs to adopt bylaws and policies related to concussions and head injuries, including the removal of any youth that suffers a concussion or head injury from participation.  The bill also requires programs to obtain the informed consent of parents or guardians related to the nature and risks of concussions and head injuries.

The bill encourages youth sports and recreation authorities to participate in the Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System described in s. 943.0542, F.S.

Last Action:  3/20/14 SENATE Favorable with CS by Rules Committee.

MentalHealthFirstAidMental Health First Aid Training Program


CS/SB 574 requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to establish a mental health first aid training program.  The program is intended to help members of the public identify and understand the signs of mental illness and substance use disorders and provide skills for individuals to help a person who is developing or experiencing a mental health or substance use problem.

Last Action:  3/17/14 SENATE Favorable with CS by Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

SoberHousesSober Houses


A "sober house" is a residence that houses addicts in a low-crime, drug-free community intended to foster rehabilitation.  "Sober homes" and "sober housing" are new terms for facilities formerly known as "halfway houses".  Halfway houses were used by those leaving a residential center with limited residential options.  Some sober home advocates argue that placing the home in a single-family neighborhood helps to avoid temptations that other environments can create.  Organizationally, these homes can range from a private landlord renting his or her home to recovering addicts to corporations that operate full-time treatment centers across the country and employ professional staff.

CS/SB 582 requires annual registration with the Department of Children & Families (department) by sober houses to operate in the state and provides a criminal penalty for operating without a valid certificate of registration and authorizes the department to conduct inspections and issue, deny, suspend or revoke a certificate of registration for a sober house.  The registration fee is capped at $200. 

Last Action:  3/19/14 SENATE Favorable by Community Affairs Committee.

NewbornHealthScreeningNewborn Health Screening


CS/SB 722 expands the list of health care providers who may receive the results of a newborn's hearing or metabolic tests or screenings from the State Public Health Laboratory, and revises the definition of "hearing impairment" to conform to national standards.  The bill creates a new section of law directing health care practitioners who diagnose a child with hearing loss to offer the parent or guardian an opportunity to receive information about services directly from specified providers.

Last Action:  3/20/14 SENATE on Committee Agenda - Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee 3/25/14 9:00 AM, 37 S.

InvoluntaryExaminationInvoluntary Examinations Under the Baker Act


CS/HB 829 adds advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of medical professionals who may execute a certificate for involuntary examination of a person.

Last Action:  3/18/14 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Civil Justice Subcommittee.

HumanTrafficking1Human Trafficking


CS/CS/HB 989 amends a variety of statutes that currently provide protections to victims of sexual offenses, to extend those protections to victims of human trafficking.  Specifically, the bill:

  • provides that the definition of "sexual abuse of a child" used in dependency proceedings includes "allowing, encouraging, or forcing a child to participate in commercial sexual activity", as provided in the human trafficking statute;
  • protects court records involving human trafficking of a minor for labor or human trafficking for commercial sexual activity;
  • specifies that compensation claims filed by persons engaged in an unlawful activity at the time of the crime upon which the claim is based are not eligible for an award, unless the victim was engaged in prostitution as a result of being a victim of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity; and
  • specifies that victims of human trafficking of a minor for labor or human trafficking for commercial sexual activity are eligible for victim relocation assistance.

Last Action:  3/19/14 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

HumanTrafficking2Human Trafficking


CS/HB 1017 amends a variety of statutes to prevent human trafficking, enhance penalties related to human trafficking, and provide protections to human trafficking victims.  Specifically, the bill:

  • prohibits minors from working in adult theaters;
  • requires an adult theater to verify the age of each of its employees or independent contractors, and maintain such records;
  • removes the statute of limitations for human trafficking violations;
  • increases penalties relating to the trafficking of children;
  • creates a new penalty if traffickers permanently brand their victims;
  • increases penalties for those who derive support from the proceeds of prostitution; and
  • expands provisions relating to expunction of criminal history records for victims of human trafficking. 

Last Action:  3/18/14 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

StudentsDisabilitiesStudents with Disabilities


CS/HB 5103 establishes the Florida Personal Learning Account program (account) to provide parents of students with disabilities more flexibility to customize their child's education.  To be eligible for an account, a student must:

  • be a Florida resident;
  • be eligible to enroll in kindergarten through 5th grade or have received an account in the previous year;
  • be identified as having Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome, an intellectual disability, Prader-Willi Syndrome, or Spina Bifida, or for a student in kindergarten, as a high-risk child; and
  • have an individual educational plan (IEP) and be eligible for Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) matrix support levels IV or V.

The parent must select educational services for the student, pay for the services "up front," and request reimbursement for services from the account. Parents may be reimbursed for educational services from a private school, specialized instructional services, private tutoring, virtual education, curriculum, educational evaluations, and therapy services.

Last Action:  3/18/2014 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Education Appropriations Committee.


A True Leader Passes


Innocents Lost Changes the Debate


Healthy Families Saves Lives & Money


Why Children Die in Florida


Help Me Grow - Phenomenal!


Charity Fundraising Overhaul


House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Recommendations:  Snapshot 






Volunteers for Organized Youth Sports and Recreational Programs


Mental Health First Aid Training Program


Sober Houses


Newborn Health Screening


Involuntary Examinations Under the Baker Act


Human Trafficking


Human Trafficking


Students with Disabilities 

United Way of Florida bills of interest, updated weekly.

















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Session Dates

March 4

- First day of the 2014 Florida Legislative Session 

April 6-11

- Children's Week

May 2

- Last day of Session 


First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.  -- Steve Martin

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