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Issue 2 | January 25, 2016 

Top News: 2016-17 Budget is on a Fast Track
Appropriations Chairs, Rep. Richard Corcoran and Sen. Tom Lee will guide the budget process during the 2016 Legislative Session. (Tampa Bay Times)
Each year, at the beginning of session, legislative budget experts meet in a General Revenue Estimating Conference to project how much the Legislature will have to spend. Last week's Conference concluded that the Legislature will have $1.2 billion more this year than last year. This final revenue estimate means the Legislature can start work on crafting the 2016-17 budget. Next week, budget subcommittees will be given their allocations, setting the amount of money each has to spend within next year's budget. According to a memo from House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran obtained by the Jacksonville Times-Union, the entire 2016-2017 House budget proposal will be published by the end of January, the House Appropriations Committee will debate and vote on it on February 3, and a vote on the House floor will take place on February 10 and 11. According to FloridaPolitics.com, the Senate is on a similar timeline. That means the legislature will try to complete the budget process faster and earlier in session than any time in recent history. For a deeper dive visit the United Way of Florida's Legislative Link.
Employment Disabilities Bill is the Law
Senate President Andy Gardiner.

Nearly 10 percent of Florida's working-age adults (18 - 64) have a disability and, according to the US Census, more than 20 percent of these individuals live below the federal poverty line (compared with 14.3 percent for those without a disability). 

CS/HB 7003 - 'Individuals With Disabilities' addresses employment and economic independence of individuals with disabilities, modifying Florida's equal employment policy and creating the 'Employment First Act ', the 'Financial Literacy Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities,' and the 'Florida Unique Partner Program'. Read more. The Legislature passed the bill, a top priority of Senate President Andy Gardiner, in the first week of session. Governor Scott signed it into law on January 21.
Telehealth Gets a Hearing
Rep. Jose Oliva (right), Chair of the House Select Committee on Affordable Health Care Access, meets with committee members Rep. Matt Hudson (center) and Rep. Chris Sprowls (left), the bill sponsor.

There are 615 designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for primary care, dental care and mental health in Florida, creating problems of health care access for many Floridians, especially in rural parts
of the state.
Telehealth is a mechanism to increase access to traditional health care services including, among others, primary and specialty care services and health management, by using technology to deliver the health care in non-traditional ways.  
(Committee on Affordable Health Care Access) authorizes Florida licensed health care professionals to use telehealth to deliver health care services within their respective scopes of practice.  Read more.
Booster Seat Law: Exemptions?
Former House Speaker H. Lee Moffitt speaking on behalf of the American Automobile Association (AAA) in opposition to HB 7063.

National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research shows that use of a booster seat reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4-8 years, when compared with seat belt use alone. This research led to legislation, passed in 2014, requiring that 4 and 5 year olds in Florida transported in motor vehicles be secured in a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a booster seat. There are currently just a few exemptions to this law. But a Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles bill, HB 7063, would extend the exemption to licensed and license-exempt child care facilities, family day care homes, large family child care homes, and after-school programs. Supporters claim compliance with the law is too expensive; opponents argue the exemptions would put children at risk of serious injury. The bill will continue to be debated in committee over the next few weeks.
Bills to Watch This Week 

PCB CFSS 16-01a Mental Health and Substance Abuse (Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee) and SB 12 Mental Health and Substance Abuse (Garcia, R-Hialeah): A comprehensive overhaul of Florida's substance abuse and mental health treatment system of care, including a 'No Wrong Door' policy to access treatment and behavioral health 'managing entities' to coordinate services

HB 1235 Housing Assistance (Miller, R-Orlando) and SB 1534 Housing Assistance (Simmons, R-Longwood): Revises requirements for local homeless assistance continuum of care plans; provides requirements for Rapid Re-Housing; prohibits counties or eligible municipalities from expending its portion of local housing distribution to provide ongoing rent subsidies.

SB 1200 Pay-for-Success Contract Program (Bean, R-Jacksonville): Requires the Department of Management Services to oversee a Pay-for-Success Contract Program; authorizes the department, contingent upon funding, to negotiate and enter into contracts with private entities to fund high-quality programs; requires an independent evaluator to determine whether the performance outcome measures in a contract have been met.

CS/SB 760 Healthy Food Financing Initiative (Bean, R-Jacksonville): Directs the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to establish a Healthy Food Financing Initiative program to provide financing to construct, rehabilitate, or expand independent grocery stores and supermarkets in underserved communities in low-income and moderate-income communities.

SB 1394 Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Brandes, R-St. Petersburg): Includes language exempting child care facilities and providers from the 'booster seat law' for children ages 4-5 when a safety belt is used.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.