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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue 4March 23, 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: Budget Proposals Released


The initial House and Senate budget proposals released last week are more than $4 billion apart. The gap - House budget is $76.2 billion; Senate budget is $80.4 billion - is due mainly to the Senate's 'FHIX' health insurance plan that would draw down federal Medicaid expansion funds, and to a Senate proposal to help hospitals pay for indigent care. So far, the House has not considered this plan. Both chambers will negotiate until they reach agreement on all budget language. The budget, SPB 2500 - Appropriations, is the only bill the legislature is required to pass during the session and send to the Governor for his approval. Read more.


old and new capitol

SB 294 and HB 829 eliminate Florida's 5-year ban on KidCare enrollment for children of lawfully residing immigrants. SB 294 has already passed unanimously out of two committees, but HB 829 has not been heard. Help pass this important legislation.

CALL TODAY and urge these House committee chairs to HEAR HB 829:

Rep. Richard Corcoran, Chair,
House Appropriations Committee

Rep. Kenneth Roberson, Chair,
Health Innovation Subcommittee

Rep. Matt Hudson, Chair,
Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee

Rep. Jason Brodeur, Chair,
Health and Human Services
Quick Links

Affordable Housing and Amendment 1

Sadowski Coalition members celebrated a victory last week when the Senate Appropriations Committee passed CS/CS/SB 586 with changes that protect affordable housing funds. Thanks to Senators Charlie Dean (the bill sponsor), Alan Hays, Chris Smith, Jack Latvala and Tom Lee, the bill was amended to maintain at the current level the percentage of doc stamp revenues allocated to affordable housing trust funds. However, advocates remain concerned that these housing trust funds may still be 'swept' and used for other purposes. While there are $278.5 million total affordable housing trust funds available for next year, Governor Scott has proposed sweeping $100.8 million for other purposes and the House has proposed sweeping $121.5 million.
Employment and Financial Literacy for People with Disabilities


Several bills moving through the House and Senate address employment and economic independence, including financial literacy, for people with disabilities. These include:
CS/SB 206 (Hukill, R-Port Orange); CS/SB 1246 (Detert, R-Venice); CS/SB 7022 (Galvano, R-Bradenton and Hukill, R-Port Orange); HB 7085 (J.Diaz, R-Miami); and HB 7099 (Oliva, R-Hialeah). Read more.

These bills would:

  • Establish the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program, to recognize businesses that employ people with disabilities;
  • Create a Financial Literacy Program for individuals with developmental disabilities; and 
  • Create the Employment First Act, to ensure long-term commitment by state agencies to improve employment for people with disabilities.
Services for Veterans and their Families

SB 1144 (Simpson, R-New Port Richey) and HB 1193 (Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill) establish the Florida Veterans' Care Coordination Program within the Department of Children and Families (DCF), to provide veterans and their families with behavioral health information and referral services for both mental health and substance abuse. The program will provide information and referrals by expanding the services provided by the Florida 211 Network. The bill requires DCF to establish care coordination teams to implement the program statewide. The goals for the Florida Veterans' Care Coordination Program include: preventing suicides among veterans; increasing the use of services; and increasing the level of federal Veterans Administration funding. Read more.

Bills to Watch This Week


SB 180 School Safety (Evers, R-Pensacola) Permits a school superintendent, with approval of the school board, to authorize a school safety designee to carry a concealed weapon or firearm on school property.

HB 1193 Services for Veterans and their Families (Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill) Requires DCF to establish Florida Veterans' Care Coordination Program to provide information and referral services to veterans and their families for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

SB 7044 Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (Health Policy) Creates a state health insurance exchange, using federal Medicaid expansion funds, to purchase private insurance for eligible Floridians in the 'coverage gap'.

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.