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Issue 8 |  March 7, 2016 

Top News: Appropriations Chairs Resolve Budget Conference 'Bump' Issues
Appropriations Chairs Rep. Richard Corcoran (left) and Sen. Tom Lee answer questions from the press following a Joint Budget Conference meeting.

Appropriations Chairs Rep. Richard Corcoran and Sen. Tom Lee began meeting last week and continued through the weekend to resolve the issues 'bumped up' to them from the Budget Conference Committees.  The full House and Senate must vote on the final budget bill by Tuesday, March 8, to allow for the constitutional requirement of a 72-hour cooling-off period, if the session is to end on time March 11
Next week's Gazette will include final budget decisions important to United Way Education, Health and Financial Stability priorities.
Health and Human Services Bill
Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee Chair Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood).

Some health care access bills headed for passage include: SB 994 Medicaid Dental Services, requiring a separate, 'carved-out' Medicaid prepaid dental plan in order to improve access to dental care for children and adults; CS/CS/HB 139 Dental Care, providing financial incentives to dentists to provide services in 'dental health professional shortage' or medically underserved areas; CS/SB 12 CS/CS/HB 7097 Mental Health and Substance Abuse, creating a coordinated system of behavioral health services for children and adults through a "No Wrong Door" approach; and CS/SB 7034 Early Steps Program (Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee), now amended to CS/HB 7053  Child Care and Development Block Grant.  Early Steps identifies and provides early interventions for children birth-age 3 with developmental or other delays. TAKE ACTION: Please contact your House members to urge them to pass Early Steps legislation as soon as possible.
Financial Stability Bills
Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee Chair Nancy Detert (R-Venice), sponsor of the Workforce Development bill.

Some Financial Stability bills awaiting final passage include: CS/SB 1534 Housing Assistance (Simmons, R-Longwood), revising administration of the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program, requiring SAIL funds to be competitively bid; requiring the State Office on Homelessness to coordinate and produce a statewide inventory for the state's system of homeless programs. The bill passed the Senate 40-0 and is awaiting a House vote.  CS/SB 7040 Workforce Development (Commerce & Tourism), modifying Florida's current workforce program to implement the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. The Florida Department of Education is required to enter into a memorandum of understanding with CareerSource Florida, the state's workforce board, to include performance and accountability measures. The bill passed the Senate 37-0 and will be heard in the House this week.
Early Learning Bills
Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) House sponsor of the Reading Instruction bill.

Several bills affecting early learning and child care are moving towards passage in the House and Senate.  CS/SB 1166 Education provides for the drawdown of federal subsidized childcare funds, grants rulemaking authority to the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to develop program quality standards and clarifies background screening requirements for publicly-funded child care personnel; CS/CS/CS/HB 1125 Eligibility for Employment as Child Care Personnel strengthens criminal background screening requirements for all childcare providers; CS/CS/HB 7021 Reading Instruction addresses early literacy by requiring additional instructional supports. The bill also authorizes the use of some alternative Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) pre- and post-assessments. CS/CS/SB 524 Education, originally a higher education bill, now includes language revising VPK eligibility to allow parents to determine whether to enroll their children at either age 4 or 5.
Bills to Watch this Week

Bills scheduled to be heard in the House and Senate include the following:

CS/CS/SB 1686 Telehealth (Sen. Aaron Bean R-Jacksonville) was substituted for CS/CS/SB 7087, amended, and returned to the House on March 3. The bill now creates a taskforce to compile and analyze certain data and conduct a comparative analysis of health insurance coverage available for telehealth services and for in-person treatment; and requires a report to the Governor and Legislature by 6/30/17.
CS/CS/CS/HB 153 Healthy Food Financing (State Affairs and Santiago, R-Deltona) creates Healthy Food Financing Initiative Pilot Program; directs DACS to provide specified financing to construct, rehabilitate, or expand grocery stores & supermarkets in underserved communities in low-income & moderate-income areas. The bill passed the House 118-0 and now goes to the Senate, where the companion bill CS/CS/SB 760 is waiting to be heard.
CS/CS/HB 1175 Transparency in Health Care (Sprowls, R-Clearwater) Requires hospitals & insurers to make available information which can be used by consumers to make health care decisions based on cost & quality; requires health insurers & HMOs to make available on their websites information to estimate certain health care services costs & charges; Bill passed the House (100-13) and is awaiting a vote in the Senate, where a similar bill, CS/SB 1496, is also on the Calendar.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.