2017 Legislative Session - Week 1, March 10, 2017
Session Kicks Off with Leadership Priorities 

Gov. Rick Scott
Sunshine State News: Gov. Rick Scott gives the State of the State address during the opening day of the 2017 legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee.


Sunshine State News: House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, left, greets Senate, President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, during opening day of the 2017 legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee.
 


The 2017 60-day legislative session opened on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, with continued committee work and a number of House leadership priority bills already heading to the floor. The six committee weeks leading up to session set the tone, with a clear focus on the budget and associated outcomes for state spending.
 
In his opening day remarks, House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Pasco County) commented that ".. everything we have done so far --- we have done to keep faith with the voters who sent us here. We adopted the toughest ethics and transparency rules of any chamber of any legislature in the United States. We shined the biggest and brightest spotlight on the appropriations process and brought an end to the shadowy pork barrel budgets that wasted millions in taxpayer money." Among his priorities are no increases in property taxes, judicial reform, and education.
 
Senate President Joe Negron (R-St. Lucie), expressed his desire to create "national elite destination universities" and to expand the opportunity for more Florida students to attend by reducing financial "impediments." (NSF, 03-07-17). In addition, his priorities include water and environmental issues, as well as juvenile justice reform.
 
Governor Rick Scott in his State of the State Address outlined priorities included in his "Fighting for Florida's Future" 2017 legislative package: public safety, jobs, promoting Florida as a destination for businesses and tourism, tax cuts, veterans affairs, the environment, and education.

SCHOOL READINESS AND EARLY GRADE SUCCESS
Early Learning Bills
A bill relating to reading instruction HB 79 was   filed by the Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) with a Senate companion, SB 656 filed by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville). The bill revises duties of the Just Read, Florida! Office relating to reading instruction, training, and research; revises data and monitoring requirements for school improvement plans and early warning systems; revises parent notification requirements relating to students with reading deficiencies; revises requirements and standards for teacher training and professional certificates and endorsements; requires the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to identify guidelines for reading instruction strategies; revises requirements and criteria for remediation and identification of students with reading deficiencies; and revises reporting requirements relating to school improvement and accountability.
 
HB 79 has been referred to three committees, and is awaiting action in the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee. SB 656 also received three committees of reference and is awaiting it's first hearing in the Education Committee.
 
SB 468 by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and it's companion, HB 757 by Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples) relating to Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK), requires the Just Read, Florida! office to provide teachers, reading coaches, and principals in prekindergarten through grade 3 with specified training; and requires VPK providers to provide parents with pre- and post-assessment results within a specified timeframe. SB 468 has been referred to four committees, and is awaiting a hearing in the Education Committee. HB 757 has been referred to three committees and is awaiting action in the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.
 
SB 806 by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) creates the Committee on Early Grade Success within the Department of Education to develop a proposal for establishing and implementing a coordinated child assessment system for the School Readiness Program, the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, and the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. The bill provides for membership of the committee; provides committee meeting requirements; requires the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning to provide necessary staff for the committee; and requires the committee to submit a report by a specified date. The bill has been referred to four committees and is awaiting action in the Education Committee. The House companion, HB 1229 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) has not yet been assigned to committees.
 
Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) filed SB 1214 relating to the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program. The bill revises the educational credentials and training required after a specified date for prekindergarten instructors in school-year prekindergarten programs delivered by private prekindergarten providers; and provides for the future revision of alternate educational credentials that such instructors may hold. The bill has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action by the Education Committee. There is no House companion to the bill.
 
Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) filed HB 1431 which has not yet been referred to committees. The bill requires child care personnel to submit proof of compliance with certain training and credentialing requirements to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for publishing in the Early Learning Workforce Registry; requires each child care facility to submit its personnel roster to DCF for publishing in the registry; and revises minimum requirements for prekindergarten instructors employed by private prekindergarten provider. The bill does not have a Senate companion.
 
SB 1714 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and it's companion, HB 1359 by Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) relates to Early Learning. The bill revises provisions relating to removal of a provider from eligibility to deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or receive funding under certain circumstances; requires each early learning coalition to establish child eligibility criteria based on local community needs for participation in the school readiness program; and revises a provision relating to revocation of a provider's eligibility to deliver the School Readiness program or receive certain funding under certain circumstances. Neither of the House and Senate bills have yet been referred to committees.

Child Care Tax Credit    
Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) filed HB 1329 which authorizes a credit against the corporate income tax for specified costs incurred by corporations in providing child care for their employees' children; provides tax credit requirements and limitations; provides tax credit application requirements; and requires the executive director of the Department of Revenue (DOR) to provide a written approval or denial of the application. The bill has not yet been referred to committees, and has no Senate companion.
 
EDUCATION

The House introduced and passed a House Memorial
, HM 7027 by Rep. Robert Cortes (R-Altamonte Springs) to Congress that will "block grant" the Title 1 Program and IDEA Part B funds, and discontinue federal education mandates requiring certain actions in order to maintain federal funding eligibility. The Memorial passed the full House on March 9, 2017 and is in Senate messages.
 
Recess Bill  
SB 78  by Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) has 18 co-sponsors, been passed unanimously in two of its three committees of reference, and is now in Appropriations. The bill will require school districts to provide 20 minutes of unstructured recess for Kindergarten-5th grade students. It's House companion , HB 67 by Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) has 51 co-sponsors and is awaiting action in it's first committee of reference, the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.
   
Children with Unique Abilities
HB 15 by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) relates to Educational Options. The bill revises provisions relating to expanding eligibility of the Gardiner Scholarship Program, John M. McKay Scholarship Program, and Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program; and provides appropriations. The House bill has been referred to three committees, recently passed its first committee, the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, and awaits a hearing in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. On the Senate side, SB 902 by David Simmons (R-Longwood) expands eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship Program. The bill has been referred to four committees and has not been heard yet.
 
SB 1314 by Sen. Denise Grimsley (R-Lake Placid) was just filed and not yet assigned to committees. The bill specifies  the Department of Education's duty to approve or deny an application for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program within a specified time; requires an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization to allow certain dependent children to apply for a scholarship at any time; revises parent and student responsibilities for program participation; authorizes the Learning Systems Institute to receive compensation for research under certain circumstances; and authorizes specified eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations to develop a professional development system.

CHILD CARE FACILITIES

HB 917 by Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoeeand SB 946 by Sen. Linda Stewart (R-Orlando) revises the definition of "child care facilities" to exclude facilities offering programs for children which are owned and operated by county or municipal government. HB 917 has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. SB 946 is awaiting action in the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee
 
HB 1155 by Rep. Patrick Henry (D-Daytona Beach) and SB 1364 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) requires a person to present picture identification before retrieving specified students from a public school under certain circumstances; requires policies to be provided to the Department of Education; requires a person to present picture identification before retrieving specified students from a nonpublic school or specified child care facility under certain circumstances; and requires policies to be maintained and available for inspection on the premises of each entity.  HB 1155 has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.  The Senate companion, SB 1364, has not yet been referenced to committees.  
 
HEALTH
Florida Kidcare Program
HB 637  by Rep. Nicholas Duran (R-Miami) and  SB 1654  by Sen. Da phne Campbell (D-North Miami Beach)  creates a Kidcare Operational Efficiency & Health Care Improvement Workgroup   to maximize the return on investment and enhance the operational efficiencies of the Florida Kidcare program .   The House bill has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the Health Innovation Subcommittee.  SB 1654 has not yet been referred to committees. 
 
Health Care Coverage
With anticipated  repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the House has introduced  HM 7033   by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola)  urging Congress to  " blo ck grant"  funds for Medicaid Services. The Memorial passed the full House on March 9, 2017 and is in Senate messages. 
 
Newborn Screenings
HB 963 by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers) and SB 1124 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Broward County) requires the Department of Health, upon the advice of the Genetics and Newborn Screening Advisory Council, to expand the statewide screening of newborns to include any condition on the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel; and requires the council to determine whether a condition should be included in the state's screening program within a specified period after its addition to the federal panel.  HB 963 has been referred to three committees, and is awaiting action in the Health Quality Subcommittee.  SB 1124 has also been referred to 3 committees, and is awaiting action in Health Policy.   

CHILD WELFARE
Temporary Care of a Child
HB 363  by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) and Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale) and  SB 200  by Sen. Kathleen Possidomo (R-Naples) authorizes certain organizations to establish programs for the purpose of assisting parents and legal guardians in providing temporary respite care for a child; providing that placement of a child in temporary respite care does not, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, constitute abuse, neglect, or abandonment or placement in foster care; and authorizes the Department of Children and Families to refer children to such programs under certain circumstances.
 
The House passed a House Memorial HM 7039 by Rep. Julio Gonzalez (R-Venice) recommending a 'block grant' for Child Welfare to replace the Title IV-E program.
 
Public Assistance
HB 23 by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) passed it's first committee of reference and now heads to the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill increases the penalties for the first three instances of noncompliance with the Temporary Case Assistance (TCA) work requirements to align with the food assistance program's sanctions, and creates a fourth sanction. SB570 (Rouson) is a similar bill.
 
Child Welfare 
SB 1044 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) provides that central abuse hotline information may be used for employment screening of residential group home caregivers; and requires a court to inquire as to the identity and location of a child's legal father at the shelter hearings; requires a court to consider maltreatment allegations against a parent in an evidentiary hearing relating to a dependency petition; requires a court to conduct an inquiry under oath the inquiry to determine the identity or location of an unknown parent after the filing of a termination of parental rights petition. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on March 13, 2017.
 
HB 1121 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) is similar to SB 1044 in that it provides that central abuse hotline information may be used for employment screening of residential group home caregivers; and requires the court to inquire as to the identity and location of the child's legal father at shelter hearings; requires the court to consider maltreatment allegations against parents in evidentiary hearing relating to dependency petition; requires the court to conduct an inquiry under oath to determine the identity or location of the unknown parent after filing of termination of parental rights petition. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee on March 13, 2017.
 
SB 1400 by Sen. Denise Grimsley (R-Lake Placid) has not yet been referred to committees. The bill requires a parent whose actions have caused harm to a child who is adjudicated to be dependent to submit to a substance abuse disorder assessment or evaluation and to participate in and comply with treatment and services; requires the Department of Health to establish a hormonal long-acting reversible contraception (HLARC) program and requires the Department of Children and Families to develop or adopt one or more initial screening assessment instruments to identify and determine the needs of, and plan services for, substance exposed newborns and their families.
 
On March 8, 2017, the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee workshopped PCB CFS 17-02 - Child Welfare Bill. The bill revises the definition of "Permanency Goal"; extends the jurisdiction of the dependency court over young adults with a disability until the age of 22; requires transition plans to be approved by the court before a child's 18th birthday and requires the transition plan to be attached to the case plan and updated before each judicial review; allows the court to use "maintain and strengthen" placement in the child's home as a permanency goal; requires DCF to ensure quality of contracted services and programs as well as the availability of an adequate array of services available to be delivered; and requires DCF to develop, in collaboration with lead agencies and other child welfare stakeholders, a statewide quality rating system for foster homes and providers of residential group care.

Foster Care
HB 217  by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis)  and  SB 60   by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) is making its way through the final committees of reference.   HB 217 is awaiting action in the Health and Human Services Committee.  SB 60 is awaiting action in Appropriations. The bill expands the program to  include, under  certain  conditions, children  in non-licensed out-of-home care who have reached permanency or turned 18.  The bill requires the child's transition plan and the court to a ssist  the child  in  obtaining a driver license. 
 
Human Trafficking
HB 665 by Rep. Ross Spano (R-Riverview)  and  SB 286 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota)  has been introduced which will require the inclusion of human trafficking instruction in the training provided to school district personnel.    The House bill has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the Prek-12 Quality Subcommittee.  SB 286 has been referred to 4 committees and is awaiting action in the  C hildren, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

SB 852  by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah)  requires DCF or a sheriff's office to conduct a multidisciplinary staffing on child victims or commercial sexual exploitation.   The bill has been referred to  three  committees and is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Committee.   HB 1383  by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) is a similar bill  which  has not yet been referred to committe e.

Child Protection 
HB 329  by Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart)  was voted   favorably  by  the Civil Justice and Claims Committee on March 8, 2017 and now heads to the Health and Human Services Committee.   The Senate companion,  SB 762  by Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake),  prohibits time-sharing plan s  from requiring  visitation at recovery residence s  between specified hours.  The  bill has been referred to  three  committees and is awaiting action in the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee. 

SB 1318  by Sen. Rene  Garcia  (R-Hialeah)   renames service districts as service circuits ,  and district medical directors as child protection team medical directors; requires that each child protection team medical director be a licensed physician and  be  board certified in specified specialty areas; and requires the department's Children's Medical Services program to develop, maintain, and coordinate the services of one or more sexual abuse treatment programs.  The bill has no House companion and has not yet been referred to committees.

SB 1454  by Sen. Doug Broxon (R-Pensacola) and  HB 1269  by Rep. Gayle  Harrel l (R-Stuart) adds the Statewide Medical Director for Child Protection as an official who must be consulted in the screening, employment, and termination of child protection team medical directors statewide;  and,  requires the Children's Medical Services program within the Department of Health to convene a task force to develop a standardized protocol for forensic interviews of children suspected of being abused, etc.  The House and Senate bills have not yet  been referred to committees.

JUVENILE JUSTICE
Civil Citation
SB 196 by Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) on Civil Citation and Diversion Programs has passed two of its three committees of reference. It was most recently voted favorably by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice on March 8, 2017, and now heads to the Appropriations Committee. There are two other House companion bills: HB 205 by Rep. Larry Ahern (R-Seminole) and Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona) which was voted favorably in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 8, 2017 and now heads to the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, and HB 213 by Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoee) which is awaiting action in Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

SB 1670 by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and HB 7059 by Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Rep. James Grant (R-Tampa) revises requirements for placement of a child in detention care; provides that a child who is a prolific juvenile offender does not require a risk assessment to be placed in detention care; provides that children meeting specified criteria shall be placed in detention care until the detention hearing; provides criteria for determining whether the child is a prolific juvenile offender; provides for placement of prolific juvenile offenders in detention care in certain circumstances; requires secure detention for all children awaiting placement in a commitment program until placement or commitment is accomplished; and,  specifies the time period for hearings  for prolific juvenile offenders. HB 7059 was voted favorably by the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee on March 8, 2017. SB 1670 is has not yet been assigned committee references.

CS/SB 192 by Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) creates an exception to the suspension of civil rights upon the conviction of a felony for children convicted as adults; deletes provisions requiring that a state attorney request the court to transfer and certify a child for prosecution as an adult under certain circumstances; requires the Department of Juvenile Justice, beginning on a certain date, to collect specified information relating to children who qualify for prosecution as adults and for children who are transferred for criminal prosecution as adults. The bill was referred to 3 committees. It passed the Criminal Justice Committee and is awaiting a hearing in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. The bill has no House companion.

OTHER BILLS AFFECTING CHILDREN
Children with Disabilities 
HB 233  by Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Sunrise) and  SB 810  by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando)  which  provides requirements for  the  use of physical restraint and seclusion for students with disabilities in public schools passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.  The House bill has been referred to  three  committees and is awaiting action in the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee. SB 810 has also been referred to  three  committees and is awaiting action in the Education Committee . The bills  a mend provisions relating to the use, prevention, and reduction of restraint and seclusion on student s with disabilities; prohibit s  the use of physical restraint by school personnel who are not certified to use district-approved methods for applying restraint techniques;  and  requir es  continuing education and inservice training for teaching students with emotional or behavioral disabilities. 
 
SB 1418  by Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) is a comparable bill to the HB 233/SB 810.  The bill has not been referred to committees .
 
Firearms
Over a dozen separate gun bills have been filed, each specifying locations where concealed weapons and firearms will be allowed including college campuses and K-12 schools (SB 622), airports (SB 618), the Capitol (SB 620), and a county, municipality, public school district, and special district (SB 626). To date, only one bill has narrowly passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and heads to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee - SB 616 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) authorizes a concealed weapons or concealed firearms licensee to temporarily surrender a weapon or firearm if the licensee approaches courthouse security or management personnel upon arrival and follows their instructions.
 
There are also several gun safety bills filed.
 
SB 142 by Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale) and its House companion, HB 835 by Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale) revises the locations and circumstances in which a loaded firearm is required to be kept or secured with a trigger lock; and deletes provisions relating to conditions for committing the crime of failing to safely store, leave, or secure a loaded firearm in a specified manner. SB 142 is referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee. HB 835 has been referred to 2 committees and is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
 
SB 170 by Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens) and the House companion, HB 235 by Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) revises the locations where a licensee is prohibited from openly carrying a handgun or carrying a concealed weapon or firearm. The Senate bill has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. HB 235 has been referred to 2 committees and is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
 
SB 254 by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and HB 167 by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Winter Park) prohibits sales or transfers of assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines; provides exceptions; prohibits possession of assault weapons or large-capacity magazines; provides exceptions; requires certificates of possession for assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines lawfully possessed before specified date; limits transfers of weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines represented by such certificates; provides conditions for continued possession of such weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines; requires certificates of transfer for transfers of assault weapons or large capacity magazines; provides for relinquishment of assault weapons or large capacity magazines; provides requirements for transportation of assault weapons; specifies circumstances in which the manufacture or transportation of assault weapons or large capacity magazines is not prohibited; and provides enhanced criminal penalties for certain offenses when committed with assault weapons or large capacity magazines.
 
SB 254 has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. HB 167 has been referred to 3 committees and is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Witness to Murder Bills 
SB 550  by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) was passed by 2 of the 4 committees of reference. It awaits action in the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. The House companion,  HB 111  by Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) and Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-Cutler Bay) was passed by 2 of the 3 committees of reference.  It now awaits action in its final committee of  reference, the  Judiciary Committee. The bill provides that the personal identifying information of a witness to a murder remains confidential and exempt for a specified  period; provides  an exemption from public records requirements for criminal intelligence or criminal investigative information that reveals the personal identifying information of a witness to a murder for a specified  period; provides  for future legislative review and repeal of the  exemption .