2020 Legislative Session
Budget Summary
The COVID-19 Pandemic came onto the scene at the tail end of the 2020 Florida Legislative Session, and it had a profound impact on the state of Florida's budget for Fiscal Year 20/21, with $1 billion worth of line item veto budget cuts from Governor DeSantis right before the deadline to sign the General Appropriations Act.

Below is a summary of Florida's budget for Fiscal Year 20/21. There are expected cuts throughout the year as the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the country and state.
Budget Summary
Florida FY 20/21

General Appropriations Act FY 20-21 / HB 5001
  • Total Budget - $92.2B ($34.7B - General Revenue portion)
  • Total Reserves - $6.3B (6% of total budget for FY 20-21)
  • Vetoes - $1.3B

Taxpayer Relief Package: $352.2M
  • 3-day Back to School Sales Tax Holiday - $41.8M
  • clothing up to $60
  • school supplies up to $15
  • first $1000 of the sales price of personal computers
  • 7-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday - $5.6M
  • Property Tax Relief - $304.8M
  • reduces the property tax rate by 0.155 mills in the Required Local Effort for the FEFP

Education / Early Learning: $1.3B
  • VPK - $412M which includes $99M funding increase
  • School Readiness - $60M in federal funding to expand services for 10K additional students on the waitlist
  • $50M in federal funds to increase early learning coalition provider rates
  • TEACH - $10M for early learning teacher scholarships
  • Help Me Grow - $1.8M
  • Teacher Training - $3M for statewide professional development to improve childcare instructor quality
  • Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters - $3.9M

School Safety Initiatives
  • $180M- safe schools component of the FEFP
  • $500,000- recurring funding to provide stipends of $500 to school guardians participating in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program
  • $5.5M recurring funds to continue Youth Mental Health Awareness and Assistance Training
  • $640,000 recurring funds for the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool
  • $3M recurring funds for centralized integrated data repository and data analytics resources to improve access to timely, complete and accurate information integrating data for social media, DCF, FDLE, DJJ and local law enforcement
  • $8M -new funding for school districts to implement a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting multiple first responder agencies
  • $42M - school hardening grants

Child Welfare
  • $117.6M - funding for services to families and children including $53.3M for major reforms to enhance provider accountability and quality of care
  • $24.3M - maintenance adoption subsidies to support post-adoption services for children who are adopted from the child welfare system

Mental Health & Substance Abuse
  • $8.3M - expands the capacity of Community Action Teams (CAT) for children ages 11-21 with a mental health and/or substance abuse diagnosis

Opioid Epidemic
  • $138.1M to address the opioid crisis with $81.8M targeted for the State Opioid Response Grant to address the crisis by providing evidence-based prevention, medication-assisted treatment and recovery

Human Trafficking
  • $9.1M - provides services for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation

Juvenile Justice
  • $15M - prevention programs for at-risk youth:
  • $5.8M - Youth Challenge Program
  • $6.6M -Mentoring Initiatives
  • $2.6M - Evidenced-based prevention programs
2020 Legislative Session
Bill Summary
Below is a summary of the bills passed this Legislative Session. The Florida Children’s Council was successful on several fronts this session. The Medicaid School- based Services bill (HB 81-Rep. Alex Andrade; SB 190 by Sen. Montford) passed unanimously on March 12. The bill was signed by the Governor on June 23 ( Chapter No. 2020-79) . A proposal requiring additional reporting requirements by CSCs was filed this session (HB 661-Rep. Wengay Newton; SB 1136 by Sen. Jeff Brandes). FCC was active during session in working with the sponsors, committee staff and key members to address concerns with the legislation. The House bill moved through two of the three committees of reference in the House with no traction in the Senate.

Despite making significant progress during the session, several of the Florida Children’s Council legislative priorities did not make it over the finish line. The 2Gen/Economic Self-Sufficiency proposal (HB 1323-Rep. Vance Aloupis; SB 1624 by Sen. Keith Perry) received unanimous approval in all committees of reference in both chambers; however, negotiations between the two chambers to resolve the differences in data collection and analysis could not be reached before the end of session. The Early Learning legislation, HB 1013 by Rep. Erin Grall, passed the House unanimously by a vote of 119-0. The Senate companion, SB 1688 by Sen. Gayle Harrell, was held up in Senate Appropriations. Outstanding policy issues between the two chambers could not be reconciled.

Governor DeSantis signed the budget on June 29 and acted on all enrolled bills including 3 vetoes. Since the end of session, the Administration’s focus has been on the state’s COVID-19 response and the state’s re-opening efforts. The Governor and the Florida legislative leadership are not inclined at this time to call a special session to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our professional and personal worlds have been upended, but one thing is certain, there will always be a legislative session. So, mark your calendars, the 2021 Regular Session dates are out: March 2, 2021 – April 30, 2021.
Child Welfare
The bill makes operational changes to the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver operated by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to improve the quality of services provided and to standardize agency processes. The bill requires waiver support coordinators who act as case managers for individuals on the waiver to be employees of qualified waiver support coordination organizations.
The bill makes a number of changes to s. 420, F. S., relating to homelessness, to bring state laws in line with corresponding federal statutes. The bill eliminates outdated provisions and allows sources of federal funding to be accessed on an expedited basis. The bill adds two members to the Council on Homelessness; one representative of the Florida Housing Coalition and the Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs or his or her designee. Additionally, the bill makes several changes to challenge grants provided by the State Office on Homelessness within the Department of Children and Families to the local homeless continuums of care (CoC), which are dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness throughout the state.
The bill requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to identify children, adolescents, and young adults age 25 and under who are the highest users of crisis stabilization services. The bill also requires DCF to collaboratively take action to meet the behavioral health needs of such children. The bill directs these agencies to jointly submit a quarterly report to the Legislature during Fiscal Years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 on the actions taken by both agencies to better serve these individuals. The bill requires the behavioral health managing entities to create plans that promote the development and implementation of a coordinated system of care for children, adolescents, and young adults to integrate behavioral health services provided through state-funded child serving systems and to facilitate access to mental health and substance abuse treatment and services.
The bill makes a number of changes to the laws relating to child welfare designed to increase the accountability of parents with children in out-of-home care, encourage better communication between caregivers and birth parents, and shorten the length of time children spend in out-of-home care. 
Early Learning
The bill extends the scheduled expiration of the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program (program) within the Department of Education (DOE) until June 30, 2022. The bill revises school district eligibility for program participation by requiring specified elementary schools that have established a music education program to maintain a program that complies with the DOE’s standards.
K - 12 Education
This bill revises provisions relating to reimbursement of school-based services by AHCA to certain school districts and private & charter schools. This bill allows for Medicaid reimbursement for certain healthcare received on school campuses.
The bill adds the policy, definition, examples, and prevention of anti-Semitism to the required public school instruction regarding the history of the Holocaust.
Funds for the Operation of Schools; Revising the annual allocation to school districts to include an additional calculation of full-time equivalent membership for students who earn a College Board Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma beginning in a specified fiscal year; creating the teacher salary increase allocation; prohibiting a school district or charter school from reducing the base minimum salary; deleting the Florida Best and Brightest Allocation, etc.
CS/HB 7011
Student Athletes
Revises provisions relating to automated external defibrillators on school grounds for student athletes, training related to CPR & defibrillators, FHSAA student athlete safety policies, & specified medical evaluations.
Health & Safety
The bill repeals the $1 million lifetime benefit maximum on covered expenses for a child enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids (Healthy Kids) program. Under the bill, no child may be disenrolled from Healthy Kids because the dollar value of his or her benefits under the program has exceeded $1 million.
The bill repeals the $1 million lifetime benefit maximum on covered expenses for a child enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids (Healthy Kids) program. Under the bill, no child may be disenrolled from Healthy Kids because the dollar value of his or her benefits under the program has exceeded $1 million.
The bill increases the minimum civil penalty for failure to stop for a school bus from $100 to $200. For a subsequent offense within five years, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) must suspend the driver license of the driver for not less than 180 days and not more than one year, instead of the current suspension of 90 days to six months.The bill also increases the minimum civil penalty for passing a school bus on the side that children enter and exit, from $200 to $400. For a subsequent offense within five years, the DHSMV must suspend the driver license of the driver for not less than 360 days and not more than two years, instead of the current suspension of 180 days to one year.
The bill creates “Alyssa’s Law” and modifies school safety statute to require each public school, including charter schools, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, to implement a mobile panic alert system, known as “Alyssa’s Alert.” The system must be capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies.
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For more information, contact: Jenny Foltz - jfoltz@floridacsc.org