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Issue 10 | March 24, 2016 

Top News: Calm After the Storm
Sine Die: March 11, 2016

The last 12 months have seen two regular legislative sessions and three special sessions. So there was great relief in Tallahassee when 'sine die' came on March 11, following a smooth, cooperative 2016 session. Unlike last year, the House and Senate worked together, passing 279 of the 1,814 filed bills, crafting an $82.3 billion state budget, and ending session on time.  The Governor signed the budget into law after releasing a $256 million veto list, far less than anticipated.
Click here to view major budget items of interest to United Ways and our partners across the state.
Read below about bills of interest to United Ways that PASSED and FAILED this session.
This is the final issue of the 2016 United Gazette. Enjoy the interim, we'll be back for the 2017 Legislative Session!

Mental Health - Creates a coordinated system of care for those suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder through a "No Wrong Door" system of single access points. CS/SB 12
Criminal Records/Minors - Makes the criminal history records of juveniles who have committed three or more misdemeanors confidential and exempt. CS/CS/HB 293
SNAP - Authorizes operators of fresh produce markets to allow certain vendors to implement and operate electronic benefits transfer systems for accepting SNAP benefits. CS/HB 103
Healthy Food Financing - Establishes the Healthy Food Financing Initiative Pilot Program to provide financial assistance for development or expansion of grocery retail outlets that operate in under-served communities or low income or moderate income communities. CS/CS/CS/HB 153
Scope of Practice - Authorizes physician assistants (PAs) and advanced registered nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances under certain circumstances. CS/HB 977
Bullying - Requires school districts to update their anti-bullying and harassment policies and makes school principals responsible for reviewing and implementing the policies. CS/HB 229
Dentists/Underserved Areas - Requires the Department of Health to develop and implement a dental care access account initiative to benefit dentists employed by a public health program or committed to opening a private practice capable of serving at least 1,200 patients in a "dental health professional shortage area" or medically underserved area. CS/CS/HB 139
Hate Crimes/Disability - Creates "Carl's Law," establishing a separate hate crime statute specifically for crimes evidencing prejudice based on mental or physical disability. HB 387
Employment/Disabilities - Establishes a long-term commitment by state agencies to employ the disabled individuals and creates the Financial Literacy Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities to promote economic independence and successful employment of individuals with developmental disabilities. CS/HB 7003
Human Trafficking - Provides that sexually exploiting a child in prostitution should be viewed as human trafficking and ensures that children involved in prostitution are viewed as victims, not culprits. CS/CS/HB 545
Dental Services/Children - Authorizes Medicaid reimbursement for remedial dental services provided by a dental hygienist when provided to a Medicaid recipient younger than 21 years of age. CS/SB 580
Adoption - Requires a court to determine whether an adoption is in the best interest of the child. CS/CS/CS/SB 590 
Dental Services - Removes dental services from the list of minimum benefits that MMA plans must provide, beginning March 1, 2019 and requires implementation of a prepaid dental health plan program for children and adults on the same date unless the Legislature determines otherwise. HB 819
Employment/Disabilities - Authorizes a private school to establish a transition-to-work program for students participating in the McKay Scholarship Program, which will allow students to earn credits while working off-site. CS/HB 837
Child Care/Background Screening - Applies new CCDBG background screening requirements to all child care personnel regardless of whether their employer receives federal CCDBG funding. CS/CS/CS/HB 1125
Homeless - Encourages homeless continuums of care to adopt the Rapid ReHousing approach to preventing homelessness for individuals and families who do not require the intense level of support provided in the permanent supportive housing model and requires Rapid ReHousing to be added to the components of a continuum of care plan. CS/SB 1534
Hospital Price Transparency - Requires hospitals and insurance companies to publish the cost of common procedures and quality of care information. CS/CS/HB 1175
Telehealth - Creates a 15-person advisory council made up of health care representatives across several industries to study the issue and report to state lawmakers by October 2017. CS/CS/HB 7087
Principals/Low Performing Schools - Creates a pilot program for select Florida counties that would give principals in low-performing schools discretion in overseeing their schools to improve student achievement and school management. CS/CS/CS/HB 287
Insurance/Down Syndrome - Requires insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage to people with Down Syndrome. CS/CS/CS/HB 221
Needle Exchange - Would let the University of Miami establish a sterile needle and syringe exchange program in Miami-Dade County. CS/CS/SB 242
Competency-Based Education - Sets up a five-year pilot program starting in 2016-17 for Pinellas, Palm Beach, Lake and Seminole Counties to let students advance through school if they can prove they've mastered lessons. CS/CS/HB 1365

Discrimination - Created the "Florida Competitive Workforce Act" and prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. HB 45
Plastic Bags - Authorized a municipality with a population of fewer than 100,000 people and which qualifies as a "coastal community" to establish a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable plastic bags. SB 306
After School - Exempted certain nonprofit after school providers from state health, safety and background screening requirements. CS/SB 156
Sick Leave - Created the "Florida Healthy Working Families Act" that required certain employers to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave under certain conditions. HB 205
Care of a Child - Allowed a parent or legal guardian of a child to delegate by power of attorney certain authority regarding the care and custody of a child to an agent volunteering through a qualified nonprofit organization for a period not to exceed one year. CS/CS/CS/HB 259
Council on Poverty - Established the Florida Council on Poverty as an advisory council to review policies and programs that work to move people out of poverty. CS/SB 556
Immigrants/TANF - Required income of undocumented immigrant family members to be included in the calculation of Temporary Cash Assistance Program (TANF) benefits. CS/CS/HB 563
Child Welfare - Comprehensive bill that, among others, required Community Based Care lead agencies to provide a continuum of care and required DCF to specify the minimum services available through contract. CS/CS/HB 599
Child Protection - Extended sovereign immunity protections to any physician licensed in this state, who is a medical director for, or a member of, a child protection team, when carrying out duties as a team member. CS/SB 670
Immigrants/Sanctuary City - Would have forced local governments and officials to comply with federal immigration authorities at a level not mandated or funded by the federal government. SB 872
Pay for Success - Established a pay-for-success contract program. HB 1049
Nonprofit Compensation - Prohibited an employee of a nongovernmental organization receiving a portion of its budget from state-appropriated funds, to receive higher compensation than the salary paid to the highest paid secretary, department director, or supervisor of a comparable state agency who directly supervises a similar number of employees. HB 1109
Music Education - Established the three-year Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program in the Department of Education to assist selected school districts in implementing comprehensive music education programs for students in kindergarten through grade 2. HB 1253
School Readiness - Created Florida Mission Readiness Commission to assess readiness of infants, children, teens, and young adults to grow up to meet the challenges of adulthood. HB 1429
Child Transport/Alarms - Required that certain vehicles used to transport children must be equipped with an approved alarm system that prompts the driver to check the interior and exterior of the vehicle for the presence of children before leaving the area.  SB 1676
Term Limits - Changed term limits for members of Legislature from eight to 12 years, subject to voter approval. HJR 711
Certificate of Need - Ended the requirement that hospitals gain state approval that there will be sufficient demand before constructing or expanding the number of beds in a facility. HB 437
Primary Care - Allowed people to contract with doctors for primary care, cutting out the middle man of an insurance company. CS/CS/HB 37
Standardized Testing - Allowed districts and parents to choose alternative standardized tests for their students in lieu of the Florida Standards Assessments. CS/SB 1360
School Recess - Required elementary schools to offer 20 minutes of recess each school day. HB 833
Open Primaries - Allowed voters with no party affiliation to vote in party primaries, including races with write-in candidates. SB 1698
Judicial Terms - Created 12-year term limits for Supreme Court and appeals court judges, subject to voter approval. CS/HJR 197
Open Carry - Allowed people with concealed weapons licenses in Florida to carry those weapons openly in public areas and in private businesses that allow it. CS/CS/CS/HB 163
Guns on Campus - Allowed people with concealed weapons licenses to carry concealed weapons on state college and university campuses. SB 68
Stand Your Ground - Shifted burden of proof in self-defense cases to prosecutors, who would have had to prove why defendants could not use the "stand your ground" law as a defense. HB 169
Direct File/Minors - Required prosecutors to seek court approval to try juveniles as adults unless juveniles are charged from list of most serious offenses. CS/HB 129
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.