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A legislative update provided by the United Way of Florida
ISSUE 6                                                                                                 APRIL 10, 2015
old and new capitol 
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GovSideswithHouseGovernor Sides with House on Health Care
While differences abound between the House and Senate on funding and substantive issues, the Mother of All Differences - health care access - dwarfs them all. The $5 billion chasm between the two houses brought the budget process to a halt this week, as conference committees - which are normally appointed the week after the House and Senate pass their respective proposed budgets - failed to materialize.

While budget talks were silent, Governor Scott was not. On Wednesday, he announced he is siding with House leaders and will not support Medicaid expansion. The Senate, however, remained resolute as Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano responded that expanding health care access through the Senate's private sector plan is the right thing to do for Floridians.

Meanwhile, next week is a crucial week, as all eyes will be on Washington to see if the feds comply with Governor Scott's request to notify the state if the $2.3 billion in Low Income Pool funding that pays for indigent care provided by hospitals will be forthcoming. Regardless, if conference committees do not begin their work next week, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to craft a final budget and still allow for the constitutionally mandated 72 hour review period before it can be passed. Special session here we come?
MostPervasiveMost Pervasive Child Disease: Surprising?
Ask most people what the most prevalent childhood disease is and they will likely say diabetes or asthma. Wrong!

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's "The State of Little Teeth", early childhood caries (ECC) is:
  • 20 times more common than diabetes;
  • 7 times more common than hay fever; and
  • 5 times more common than asthma.
Commonly referred to as "bottle mouth" this disease begins in a child's first five years and, because the disease is in the gums and does not disappear when baby teeth fall out (as commonly believed), it can have disastrous impacts on people throughout their lives.
(Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)
NewbornScreeningNewborn Screening
Florida law directs the Department of Health (Department) to conduct newborn screenings for metabolic, hereditary, and congenital disorders that result in the significant impairment of health or intellect. The Florida Newborn Screening Program screens for 31 core conditions and 22 secondary conditions. In January, more than 21,000 newborns were screened under the current program.

CS/SB 632 directs the Department to adopt rules to require newborns to be tested for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) as soon as ALD is adopted on the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. ALD is a genetic disorder that damages myelin, the sheath that surrounds the brain's neurons. It can cause behavioral changes such as abnormal withdrawal or aggression, memory loss, visual loss, learning disabilities, seizures, speech problems, swallowing difficulties, deafness, coordination issues, fatigue, and progressive dementia.

Last Action: 4/7/15 SENATE Favorable by Banking and Insurance.
RestitutionRestitution for Juvenile Offenses
CS/SB 312 expands the authority of the court to order restitution when a child is found to have committed a delinquent act, regardless of whether the child is adjudicated delinquent or adjudication is withheld.

It requires, rather than authorizes, the child and the child's parent or guardian, to pay restitution when the court has determined that restitution is appropriate. It also authorizes the court to do the following:
  • set up a payment plan if the child and the parents or guardians are unable to pay the restitution in one lump-sum payment;
  • absolve the parent or guardian of any liability for restitution if after a hearing, the court finds that the current offense is the child's first referral and the parent or guardian has made diligent and good faith efforts to prevent the child from engaging in delinquent acts, or the victim entitled to restitution is the child's parent or guardian; and
  • provides that the court may only order restitution to be paid by parents or guardians who have current custody or parental responsibility.
Last Action: 4/7/15 SENATE Favorable by Judiciary.
EmployOppsEmployment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
CS/HB 1083 requires development and implementation of an interagency cooperative agreement among 10 state agencies and organizations. The agreement must, among others:
  • establish commitment by state leadership to maximize resources and coordination to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities;
  • develop strategic goals and benchmarks to assist state agencies and organizations in implementing the agreement;
  • identify financing and contracting methods to help prioritize employment for individuals with disabilities by state agencies and organizations;
  • establish training methods to better integrate persons with disabilities into the workforce;
  • ensure collaborative efforts between agencies;
  • promote service innovations to better assist individuals with disabilities in the workplace; and
  • identify accountability measures to ensure sustainability of the agreement.
Last Action: 4/8/15 HOUSE Placed on Calendar.
HumanTraffickingHuman Trafficking
CS/SB 1106 and CS/SB 534 seek to heighten public awareness regarding human trafficking in the State of Florida. The bills:
  • require the Attorney General to develop specifications for the form and content of human trafficking public awareness signs;
  • direct the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to display the signs in every rest area and welcome center in the state; and
  • require businesses such as strip clubs, airports, bus stations, truck stops and emergency rooms to display the signs near the public entrance of the establishment or in another conspicuous location clearly visible to both the public and employees of the establishment.
The bill imposes a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense.

Last Action: 4/8/15 SENATE Placed on Special Order Calendar.
ClosingtheGapClosing the Gap Grant Program
The "Closing the Gap" (CTG) grant program was created by the Legislature in 2000 to improve health outcomes and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in Florida by providing grants to increase community-based health and disease prevention activities.

SB 94 expands the list of priority health areas under the CTG grant program to include sickle cell disease.

Last Action: 4/9/15 Passed by HOUSE and SENATE. Will be presented to Governor Scott.
ConcealedWeaponsConcealed Weapons - Evacuation
Florida law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon unless a person has received a permit to do so.

CS/CS/SB 290 provides an exception to that law that will allow a person to carry a concealed weapon or firearm while in the act of complying with a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or by a local authority regardless of the person's licensure status, so long as he or she may otherwise lawfully possess a firearm.

The bill defines the term "in the act of evacuating" as the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from an evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. It provides that the 48-hour period may be extended by order of the Governor.

Last Action: 4/9/15 Passed both HOUSE and SENATE. Will be presented to Governor Scott.
HumanTrafficking2Human Trafficking
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national hotline number funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The NHTRC provides service referrals, tips to law enforcement, information to the public, training, and technical assistance.

Currently, 25 states require or encourage the NHTRC hotline number to be posted or promoted within the state. Florida law currently does not require or encourage the posting of the hotline number.

CS/CS/HB 369 creates s. 787.08, F.S., relating to human trafficking public awareness signs. The bill provides legislative findings, permits the Department of Transportation (DOT) to erect awareness signs at its facilities, and permits businesses to display awareness signs on their premises.

The bill requires the Attorney General to approve the form and content of the authorized signs and provides for a minimum size and font size. The bill also contains proposed wording for the signs.

Last Action: 4/8/15 HOUSE Read Third Time; Passed.
PubRecordsPublic Records/Homelessness
CS/SB 552 provides that individual identifying information of a person contained in a Point-In-Time Count and Survey or data in a Homeless Management Information System collected pursuant to federal law and regulations is exempt from s. 119.07(1), F.S., and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. The bill defines the term "individual identifying information" and provides for retroactive application of the exemption.

The bill does not prevent the release of aggregate information from a Point-In-Time Count and Survey or data in a Homeless Management Information System that does not disclose individual identifying information of a person. The bill provides for an Open Government Sunset review and contains a statement of public necessity as required by the State Constitution.

Last Action: 4/8/15 SENATE Read Third Time; Passed.
FSECCFlorida State Employees' Charitable Campaign
SB 694 provides an exception to the requirement that state officers and employees designate a charitable organization to receive their contributions from the Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC) made during participation in a special event. Both bills allow state officers and employees to contribute undesignated funds to the FSECC as part of a campaign event, and direct the fiscal agent to direct undesignated contributions to participating charitable organizations in proportion to all designated FSECC contributions received by that organization.

The bill eliminates the requirement that local steering committees be established in each fiscal agent area. It also eliminates the additional eligibility requirements for an independent unaffiliated agency, national agency, and international service agency.

Last Action: 4/8/15 SENATE Read Third Time; Passed.
JuvenileJusticeJuvenile Justice
CS/SB 378 expands juvenile civil citation by allowing law enforcement to issue a civil citation to youth who have committed a second or subsequent misdemeanor. Civil citation is presently only available to youth who admit to committing a first-time misdemeanor.

In addition, law enforcement will be authorized to issue a simple warning to the youth, inform the youth's parents of the misdemeanor, issue a civil citation, or require participation in a similar diversion program under the bill. The bill also states that if an arrest is made, law enforcement must provide written documentation as to why the arrest is warranted.

Last Action: 4/8/15 SENATE Retained on Special Order Calendar.
MentalHealthEdMental Health Education
CS/SB 344 requires the Department of Education to provide information on federal and private grants for mental health education, awareness, and training, or similar programs to school districts and post information on its website.

Last Action: 4/9/15 SENATE Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.
InvolExamMinorsInvoluntary Examination of Minors
CS/SB 954 requires a public school's principal, or his or her designee, to notify a student's parent or guardian if the student is removed from the school, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity for an involuntary examination. The bill also provides notification requirements for receiving facilities that hold minor patients for involuntary examination.

The bill allows the school principal, or his or her designee, and the receiving facility each to delay notification by up to 24 hours if there is suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect and delay has been deemed to be in the student's or minor patient's best interest. Delay in notification may occur only after a report of suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect is submitted to the Department of Children and Families' central abuse hotline.

Last Action: 4/9/15 SENATE  Placed on Special Order Calendar.
DentalCareDental Care - Dentists
Only 27.4 percent of low income Floridians have access to dental care. CS/SB 606 requires the Department of Health to develop and implement a Dental Care Access Account Initiative to benefit Florida licensed dentists employed by public health programs or committed to opening private practices capable of serving at least 1,200 patients in an area designated as a dental health professional shortage area (HPSA) or a medically under-served area.

Florida currently has 220 designated dental HPSAs, which have only enough dentists to serve 17 percent of the population living within them. For 2012, it is estimated that 853 additional dentists were required to meet the total need. This puts Florida among the states with the highest proportion of their populations that are deemed under-served.

Last Action: 4/9/15 SENATE Placed on Special Order Calendar.


Session Dates

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