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Issue 8   |  March  2, 2018

Top News: Budget Negotiations Roll
Budget Conference Chair Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami (left) and Vice Chair Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, speak with the media as the joint conference begins.

Legislators began negotiating next year's $87+ billion state budget this Tuesday. While the Conference process is standard practice, the context for this session's negations is far from it.
As session began, Legislators knew they were facing a tough budget year with hundreds of millions of dollars needed to fund hurricane recovery, more public school students, measures to address the opioid epidemic, and burgeoning Medicaid needs.  A projected revenue shortfall of $167 million and the Parkland tragedy have put significant additional pressure on the budget, just in the last two weeks. 
As a result, proposed tax cuts will be reduced, member projects will be slashed, and more trust funds will be "swept" into general revenue, most notably $182 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Finds.
This morning, issues that were not resolved by the joint House/Senate Conference Committees were "bumped" to the House and Senate budget chairs (Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Rob Bradley). Issues they are unable to resolve will be bumped Sunday morning to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.
Because of the state's constitutional 72-hour waiting period before lawmakers can vote on the final budget, Senator Negron and Representative Corcoran must complete their work and have a final budget no later than midnight next Tuesday in order for session to end as scheduled next Friday.
Guns + School Safety = Legislative Chaos
Gov. Scott, with father and brother of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS student, Alaina Petty, meet with House members on the floor.

As this Legislative Link went to press, legislators were in disarray as they attempted to craft a response to the mass shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School before session's scheduled end next Friday.
Republican NRA supporters opposed a three-day waiting period to buy rifles and long guns and raising the purchase age to 21. Democrats bent on banning sale of assault weapons, Governor Scott and the African American Caucus opposed to arming teachers and including marshals in schools (albeit for different reasons) were at odds, and a compromise was not in sight. The next stop for CS/SB 7026 is the Senate floor; HB 7101 is being debated today in the House.
At this point, lawmakers have agreed to provide about $400 million in funding for such things as improving physical school facilities ($96M - House; $91M - Senate), additional School Resource Officers/Marshals ($97.5M - H; $75M - S), and student mental health assistance ($67.2M - H; $100M - S) in addition to smaller budget items such as a memorial to those slain at Stoneman Douglas High School, replacing the building where the shooting took place, additional mobile crisis and community action teams, and development or acquisition of mobile suspicious activity reporting tools.
Incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva (R-Miami) was quoted on Wednesday as saying that people "on all sides" are politicizing the legislation. "This is a compromise bill that has been put together, but the politics around it are toxic, and people are taking advantage of the opportunity." The toxicity will have to neutralize if a bill is going to be passed by the last day of session.
Education: K-12 and Early Learning Bills Advance
Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) presents Early Learning bill in the House.

Two key education bills are advancing as the Florida session winds up. CS/HB 7055 Education , the massive education "train", contains dozens of other bills and provisions ranging from the creation of the Hope Scholarship program to mental health funding for Florida schools. It passed the House several weeks ago, was amended by the Senate and now will be heard on the Senate floor. One particularly contentious provision, recently amended to the Senate bill, would impose specific membership requirements for teachers' unions that could restrict their ability to represent employees in the collective bargaining process. The bill has become a partisan battleground, and significant differences between the House and Senate versions may make its passage problematic.
By contrast, CS/CS/HB 1091 Early Learning, which defines early learning program quality and establishes accountability measures, has sailed through its House committees, receiving nothing but praise for its substance and for its sponsor, Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach). The bill passed the House this week 114-0. The Senate companion, CS/SB 1254 Early Learning (Passidomo, R-Naples) has been amended to line up with the House bill and will almost certainly be scheduled for a floor vote early next week. 
Health Care Budget & Funding for Home and Community Care for the Elderly
Health and Human Services Budget Conference Chair Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford (left) and Vice Chair Anitere Flores, R-Miami.

United Way legislative priorities for 2018 include increased funding for Home Care for the Elderly (HCE), Community Care for the Elderly (CCE) and the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative (ADI), programs that allow low-income, frail elders to remain at home and avoid costly nursing home care. As of Friday morning, the Health and Human Services Budget Conference remained divided over funding for these important programs. The House increased the amount for CCE from $1.9 to nearly $3 million and also increased their proposed funding for Alzheimer's respite care from $3 to $5 million. However, the Senate backed down from its earlier increases in CCE, HCE, and ADI. The Senate proposal includes some increases, allowing the programs to serve additional elders on the wait list, but also redirects funds to the Medicaid deficit and other critical areas such as hurricane relief, the opioid crisis and school safety. As of Friday morning, when unresolved items will be "bumped" to the Conference chairs, the two chambers remain divided by over $100 million on Agency for Health Care Administration funding, nearly $30 million apart on Department of Children and Families spending, and more than $40 million apart for the Department of Health.
Bills to Watch

Week of March 5 - 9, 2018

HB 887 Reading Instruction (Harrell; R-St. Lucie, Martin) - requires teachers who provide reading interventions under a school district's K-12 comprehensive reading plan to be certified or endorsed in reading; requires the Florida Department of Education, as part of its review of certain certification and endorsement requirements, to consider awarding a reading endorsement to teachers who are certified by an internationally recognized reading intervention organization or who complete a program accredited by the organization.
CS/SB 280   Telehealth (Bean; R-Nassau, Duval) - Establishing the standard of care for telehealth providers; providing that telehealth providers, under certain circumstances, are not required to research a patient's history or conduct physical examinations before providing services through telehealth; providing recordkeeping requirements for telehealth providers.
CS/CS/HB 937 Perinatal Mental Health (Nunez; R-Miami-Dade) - Requires DOH to offer perinatal mental health care information through Family Health Line toll-free hotline accessible to general public; revises components included in postpartum evaluation & follow-up care provided by birth centers to include mental health screening & information on postpartum depression.
CS/HB 693 Family Self-Sufficiency (White; R-Escambia, Santa Rosa) - Authorizes changes to public assistance policy & federal food assistance waivers to conform to federal law & simplify administration; requires DCF to impose resource limit for households receiving food assistance, subject to federal approval; requires CareerSource Florida, Inc., to contract with vendor to develop pilot program to increase employment for persons receiving temporary cash assistance.
CS/CS/CS/HB 751 Public Assistance (Eagle; R-Lee) - Revises penalties for noncompliance with work requirements for receipt of temporary cash assistance; requires DEO, in cooperation with CareerSource Florida, Inc., & DCF, to inform participants in temporary cash assistance program of work requirements & sanctions & penalties for noncompliance with work requirements; directs AHCA to seek federal approval to require Medicaid enrollees to provide proof to DCF of engagement in work activities for receipt of temporary cash assistance as condition of eligibility & enrollment.
CS/CS/CS/HB 987 Affordable Housing (B. Cortes; R-Orange, Seminole) - Revises criteria used by counties & municipalities in evaluating disposal of real property; revises reporting requirements for specified entities relating to impact fees; provides requirements for certain agreements with Florida Housing Development Corporation; provides local permit approval process; revises criteria used by review committee when selecting applications for state apartment incentive loans; creates Rental Recovery Loan Program to provide funds for additional rental housing due to specified impacts.
CS/CS/HB 591  Missing Persons With Special Needs (Porter; R-Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee and part of Alachua) - Abrogating the scheduled repeal of provisions governing the citizen support organization for Florida Missing Children's Day; expanding a project for missing persons with special needs to all centers for autism and related disabilities at state universities.
CS/SB 1044  Victims of Human Trafficking (Book; D-Broward) - Citing this act as the "Civil Cause of Action for Victims of Human Trafficking Act"; providing a civil cause of action for victims of human trafficking against a trafficker or facilitator; providing that such actions are not subject to a statute of limitations; providing an affirmative defense for owners or operators of public lodging establishments under certain circumstances.
CS/CS/HB 1079 Child Welfare (Burton; R-Polk) - Requires DCF to establish rules for granting exemptions from criminal history & certain other records checks required for persons being considered for placement of child; requires court to consider case plan compliance in permanency hearings; revises offenses that disqualify certain child care personnel from specified employment.
CS/CS/HB 1351 Early Childhood Court Program (Payne; R-Bradford, Putnam, Union, Clay) - Requires Office of State Courts Administrator to verify existence of Early Childhood Court Program at certain circuit courts; authorizes office to hire statewide community coordinator; requires FSU Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy to hire statewide clinical director; requires institute to submit annual reports.
HJR 7001 Supermajority Vote for State Taxes or Fees (Leek; R-Volusia) - 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.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.