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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #7April 21, 2014
A weekly update during the Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
Countdown: Final two weeks of Session


During the remaining two weeks of Session, the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass next year's budget and conference committees will begin meeting this week.  The House and Senate will also pass bills awaiting hearing on their respective floors.  But Tuesday, April 22nd, is the 50th day of Session, the final day for regularly scheduled committee meetings, so bills that have not gotten through their referenced committees to reach the House or Senate floor are unlikely to pass.  Some remaining issues include: in-state tuition for 'DREAMers', KidCare for children of lawfully-residing immigrants, comprehensive child welfare reforms, and booster seat legislation.

Quick Links
Quality Early Learning is a Florida United Way Priority.  As legislators begin budget negotiations, please call House and Senate Leadership TODAY:


-- Ask Senators to accept the House position on School Readiness and VPK funding.


-- Ask Representatives to hold their position on School Readiness and VPK funding.


-- Thank Senators and Representatives for including funding for the provider incentive quality initiative.


Child Welfare Reforms   
Bills aimed at making comprehensive reforms to the child welfare system in Florida may fail this session for lack of adequate funding.  An estimated $25 million in additional resources are needed for both the Child Protective Investigators who make the initial risk assessments of whether a child is safe, and for the Case Managers and other support services coordinated by community-based care organizations to prevent abuse and strengthen the family.  Read more.

United Way of Florida urges the legislature to fully fund SB 1666 and HB 7169 Child Protection and Child Welfare Services. 
Innocents Lost:  The Miami Herald reports on child deaths in Florida due to abuse and neglect.
Healthy Families Budget


A priority of the 2014 Legislature is to address the failures of Florida's child protection system. 'Healthy Families Florida' (HFF) is a voluntary home-visiting program proven to reduce child abuse and neglect.  Last year, DCF reported 95 percent of children completing the program were still free from abuse and neglect three years later.  Read more.

Legislative Conferees will determine whether to accept the House proposal to increase funding for HFF by $4.5 million, or to maintain current year funding as proposed by the Senate.

The United Way of Florida urges the legislature to accept the House position to increase funding for Healthy Families Florida.


Efforts to remove the five-year wait for children of lawfully-residing immigrants to enroll in KidCare have reached a standstill. For the third year in a row, Sen. Rene Garcia's bill, SB 282, failed to move forward in committee; Rep. Jose Diaz's HB 7 also stalled, despite significantly lower projected program costs (down from the initial estimate of $27 million to a new low of $9 million for the first year) and nearly unanimous support in the committees that heard the bill earlier in the Session.  Read more.

Florida's United Ways urges the legislature to remove the 5-year ban and provide the funds to enroll eligible children of lawfully-residing immigrants in the KidCare program.


Bills to Watch this Week


CS/CS/HB 7069 Early Learning and Child Care Regulation:  Changes terminology; revises requirements, standards and licensing exemption provisions relating to child care facilities, VPK and school readiness programs; revises duties of Office of Early Learning and early learning coalitions.
House Special Order Calendar 04/21/14.
CS/CS/HB 629 Charities:  Amends current law to provide increased oversight of charitable organizations and sponsors, professional fundraising consultants, and professional solicitors.  
House Special Order Calendar 04/21/14.
CS/CS/HB 151 and CS/CS/CS/SB 242 Security of a Protected Consumer's Information:  Creates the 'Keeping ID Safe' (K.I.D.S.) Act, requiring consumer reporting agencies to establish and freeze a credit record for a minor upon request by the parent or guardian.
House Special Order Calendar 04/21/14.



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, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.