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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #9May 5, 2014
A weekly update during the Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
Sine Die!


The 2014 Florida Legislative Session ended late Friday evening, after the Senate and House passed the 2014 budget bill.  Some good bills passed and are on their way to the Governor to sign including: reforms to the state's child welfare system; increased support for victims of human trafficking; and in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.  And some good bills failed, including two United Way priorities: removal of the five year ban on KidCare enrollment for children of lawfully-residing immigrants; and expanded heath and safety requirements for early learning programs.




Quick Links
Child Welfare Bill Passes
Child welfare reform was a top priority for legislators this session, after a Miami Herald investigative series focused attention on child deaths from abuse and neglect.  A comprehensive reform bill (CS/SB 1666) passed on the last day of the legislative session.  Bill sponsors Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) and Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Port St. Lucie) declared that the bill would focus on improving child safety, system transparency and accountability, and workforce development.
Budget Highlights


The $77 billion state legislative budget (General Appropriations Act or HB 5001) approved by both the House and Senate on the last day of Session, features significant increases in education, and health and human services. Read more.

One notable budget item: Thanks to Representative Eric Fresen, Senator Bill Galvano, and Representative Marlene O'Toole, the 2014-15 budget contains proviso language and $10.5 million to create a performance-based pilot that incentivizes higher quality in the state's School Readiness program.  Read more.
Early Learning Bill Dies


In the final hours of the 2014 Session, the Senate heard CS/CS/HB 7069, the early learning and child care regulation bill addressing health and safety standards. The Senate added several unrelated amendments, which then required approval from the House. Unfortunately, the session ended before the House could vote on the bill as amended and so it died. It is anticipated that the health and safety issues in the bill will be revisited in next year's legislative session.  

Some Bills That Passed


Booster Seats: CS/HB 225 increases the age for children required to be secured in a child safety device (car seat or booster seat) from age four to age five. 

Charity Regulation: CS/CS/HB 629 updates the Solicitation of Contributions Act to provide increased oversight by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) of charitable organizations and sponsors, professional fundraising consultants, and professional solicitors. 


Foster Children Driving: CS/HB 977 facilitates foster children obtaining motor vehicle insurance and provides for preferential enrollment of foster youth in drivers education.


Homelessness: CS/CS/HB 979 modifies the parameters for awarding Homeless Challenge Grants to support implementation of local homeless service continuum of care (CoC) plans.



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.