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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue 7April 13, 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 Crisis Continues 
old and new capitol

The $5 billion health care budget gap between the House and Senate continues unresolved and the joint budget conference committees, normally appointed as soon as the two chambers pass their respective proposed budgets, have not been convened. If the conference committees do not begin their work this week, it will be nearly impossible to craft a final budget in time to end the regular legislative session on time. Read more.
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Important Session Dates

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 12-17:Children's Week

April 15:  Florida Senior Day

May 1: Last day of the regular Session
Dental Care
Only 27.4 percent of low-income Floridians have access to dental care, putting Florida among the states with the highest proportion of under-served populations. Children are acutely affected by this shortage of dentists. In 2012, only 26 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children in Florida received dental care services. Even though, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's "State of Little Teeth", early childhood caries (ECC) is among the most prevalent of childhood diseases and can have disastrous impacts on people throughout their lives. CS/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 State Employees' Charitable Campaign
The Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is the single authorized solicitation of state employees to voluntarily benefit charities providing programs that meet human or environmental needs. SB 694 and HB 719 allow state officers and employees to donate to the FSECC at agency fundraising events without designating specific organizations to receive the funds. The bills provide that the FSECC's fiscal agent must distribute these "undesignated" funds to participating charitable organizations in direct proportion to the percentage of designated funds or pledges received by the organization. The bills remove additional eligibility requirements for independent unaffiliated agencies, international service agencies, and national agencies wanting to participate in the FSECC. The bills also remove the statutory requirement to establish a local steering committee in each fiscal agent area. Read more.
Human Trafficking - Public Awareness
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national hotline number funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, 25 states, but not Florida, require or encourage the NHTRC hotline number to be posted or promoted within the state. 

To increase public awareness about human trafficking, the Florida House and Senate are about to pass legislation that will require this information to be posted. CS/CS/HB 369 and CS/SB 534 direct the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to display human trafficking public awareness 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.  Read more.

Bills to Watch This Week




CS/SB 7006 (Legg, R-Lutz) Early Learning: Revising certain minimum standards for child care facilities; providing for the inspection of programs regulated by the department; authorizing a district school board or charter school governing board to adopt a policy to allow a child meeting certain requirements to be admitted to a public kindergarten.

CS/SB 478 (Bean, R-Jacksonville and Joyner, D-Tampa) Telehealth: Providing standards of practice for telehealth providers, including controlled substances prescribing authority.

CS/SB 7068 (Children, Families and Elder Affairs) Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services: Requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families to develop a plan to obtain federal approval for increasing the availability of federal Medicaid funding for behavioral health care.

SB 250 (Smith, D-Ft. Lauderdale) Child Care Facilities: Excluding certain membership organizations from the definition of the term "child care facility".
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.