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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #1March 2, 2015
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: 2015 Session Begins


Welcome back to the United Gazette, your quick connection to what's happening each week in Tallahassee. Once again, the Gazette will arrive in your mailbox every Monday during the 2015 Florida Legislative Session. It will showcase activities and key bills concerning the education, health, financial stability and nonprofit issues important to Florida's United Ways and their communities.  Enjoy it, learn from it and have a great 2015 Session!


2015 Florida United Way Consensus Legislative Agenda

Florida's 32 local United Ways work to solve our state's most pressing education, income, health and safety net challenges. The 2015 Florida United Way Consensus Legislative Agenda represents the fourth year Florida's United Ways have joined together to advocate for legislative issues of critical importance to the communities they serve.  Guiding principles urge Florida Legislators to avoid 'across-the-board' budget cuts; maximize federal revenues; support the authority of local government and communities to determine the best use of resources; and focus on prevention. Legislative Priorities for 2015 include:


Early Learning Bill in House and Senate Committees


Both the House and Senate Education Committees filed the Early Learning bill that failed to pass at the end of the 2014 Session. Nearly identical, CS/SB 7006 and HB 7017 strengthen health and safety standards, licensing, training and minimum qualifications for early learning providers.  Both bills address new federal requirements for the state's School Readiness Program and include a two-year pilot to study the impact of English/Spanish Voluntary Prekindergarten assessments for children who are English Language Learners. But there are some differences already between the House and Senate versions, which will need to be reconciled.


ALICE in Florida


Across Florida, 45 percent of households fall below the survival threshold for the basic necessities of housing, transportation, childcare, food, and healthcare.  These are Florida's
ALICE families (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).  They are men and women of all ages and races; the child care workers, mechanics, home health aides, store clerks, office assistants and others who provide the services we all rely on in our daily lives. These working families are vulnerable; with just one health emergency, car repair or harsh storm they can quickly spiral into poverty. Read more about ALICE in Florida.

Bills to Watch This Week


SB 610 Food Deserts (Bullard, D-Miami) will be heard this week. The bill establishes the food desert business tax credit for certain businesses that sell nutrient-dense food items in low-income areas designated as food deserts.

SB 294 Florida KidCare Program (Garcia, R-Hialeah) will be heard this week.  The bill removes the five year KidCare enrollment restriction for certain lawfully residing immigrant children.  The bill clarifies that undocumented immigrants are excluded from eligibility.

HB 55 Children and Youth Cabinet (Harrell, R-Stuart) 
will be heard this week. The bill adds a Superintendent of Schools, appointed by the Governor, to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.


A Healthy Florida Works - The Senate Health Policy Committee will hear a presentation this week on the private sector Medicaid expansion plan.


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.