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Issue 2   |  January  19, 2018

Top News: Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Bill Advances in Senate
Jaimie Ross, President & CEO, Florida Housing Coalition and facilitator of the Sadowski Housing Coalition.

The Florida Senate Committee on Community Affairs passed SB 874 -State Funds, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples). The bipartisan legislation would prohibit sweeping of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund, also known as the Sadowski Trust Fund, which is intended to support affordable housing programs. "Attainable housing is a key ingredient to meet the needs of Florida's growing workforce. Ensuring workers have access to affordable housing will help our economy to continue growing, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee for protecting this important program," said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce. More than 30 organizations testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing. Jaimie Ross, president and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition said, "We are very excited for this momentous legislation that will create a stable and reliable source of funding for affordable housing, especially when our need has grown exponentially in the last year," Representative Sean Shaw (D-Tampa) is the sponsor of the House companion bill, HB 191, currently slated to be heard in the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. Read more.
Early Education: "A first step" towards School Readiness program quality
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mt. Dora) presents HB 1175-Early Learning Coalitions in committee.

Representative Jennifer Sullivan presented HB 1175 to the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee, a bill she called, "a first step" towards improving the quality of School Readiness programs in Florida.  The School Readiness (SR) program provides subsidies for childcare services and early childhood education for children of low-income families; children in protective services who are at risk of abuse, neglect, or abandonment; and children with disabilities. The program is administered by local or regional Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs).  Florida's Office of Early Learning administers the program at the state level, including statewide coordination of the ELCs. The ELCs contract mainly with private-sector providers, which must be properly licensed and meet basic health and safety requirements. The bill authorizes ELCs to refuse to contract with, or revoke the eligibility of, a SR program provider if the provider has been cited for a class I violation. Class I violations are the most serious type, posing an imminent to the health, safety or well-being of a child. The companion bill, SB 1532 , was filed by Senator Kelly Stargel (R-Lakeland). Read more.
Health: Perinatal Mental Health, the "Florida's Families First Act"
Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) sponsor of SB 1175, Perinatal Mental Health.

Postpartum blues, or the "baby blues," are common feelings experienced by approximately 75 to 80 percent of women in the first 10 days following childbirth. Postpartum depression may begin shortly before or any time after child birth, but commonly begins one to four weeks after child birth and can persist up to a year or more after giving birth.  Because of the severity of the symptoms, postpartum depression usually requires treatment. SB 138 , Perinatal Mental Health (Book, D-Plantation), "Florida's Families First Act", directs the Department of Health (DOH) to establish two toll-free perinatal mental health care hotlines by January 1, 2019: one for the general public and one for health care providers. The public hotline must provide basic information on postpartum depression and perinatal care, and may refer the caller to a local qualified provider. The bill also expands the statutory responsibilities of birth centers and hospitals to require additional infant and maternal postpartum evaluations and follow-up.  It passed the Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously on Wednesday.
Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign: FSECC Repeal Bill
Rep. Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville), sponsor of HB 651-State Employment to repeal the FSECC.

The Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is the only authorized charitable fundraising drive directed toward state employees within work areas during work hours for which the state provides payroll deduction. Florida's United Ways acted as fiscal agents and provided support services for the Campaign from its inception in 1980 until 2012.  During that time, generous state employees contributed more than $90 million to support the 1,300 participating charities. In 2012, after the State selected a for-profit New Jersey-based company to act as fiscal agent, contributions declined precipitously and administrative expenses skyrocketed. The 2016 Campaign was cancelled half-way through and no Campaign was held in 2017. Two bills have been filed that would repeal the Campaign. This week, HB 651 (Yarborough, R-Jacksonville) was heard in the House Government Accountability Committee and SB 950 (Mayfield, R-Melbourne) was heard in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability; both passed unanimously.
Bills to Watch

Week of January 22-26, 2018

CS/SB 90 Use of Wireless Communications While Driving (Perry, R-Gainesville) - Revises the legislative intent relating to the authorization of law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to persons who are texting while driving; requiring a law enforcement officer to inform a person who is stopped for texting while driving of the person's right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device. Last action: On Committee agenda - Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, 01/23/18
SB 1434 Education Enhancements (Passidomo, R-Naples) - Creates the mental health assistance allocation; increases the amount that a school district may expend from a specified millage levy for certain expenses; prohibits a charter school from being eligible for capital outlay funds unless the chair of the governing board and the chief administrative officer of the charter school annually certify certain information. Last action: On Committee agenda - Education, 01/22/18
SB 1448 Tax Exemptions for the Elderly (Passidomo, R-Naples) - Exempts from the sales and use tax specified items that enable elderly persons to age in place and live independently in their homes or residences. Last action: On Committee agenda - Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, 01/22/18
CS/HB 25 Labor Organizations (Plakon, R-Longwood) - Revises required information to be included in application for renewal of registration of employee organization; provides for revocation of certification under certain conditions; requires certain employee organizations to recertify as certified bargaining agents; provides non-applicability with respect to employee organizations that represent or seek to represent certain employees. Last action: Placed on Special Order Calendar, 01/24/18
HJR 7001 Supermajority Vote for State Taxes or Fees (House Ways and Means Committee) - Proposes amendment to State Constitution to prohibit a state tax or fee from being imposed or raised except through legislation approved by two-thirds of each house of legislature; requires a state tax or fee imposed or raised to be contained in separate bill that contains no other subject. Last action: Placed on Special Order Calendar, 01/24/18
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Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.