Capitol Connection
2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: WEEK 1
The 2021 Florida Legislative Session is officially underway. The next eight weeks will move quickly in Tallahassee, and we appreciate your interest in monitoring issues that may impact Florida’s children and families. The Florida Children’s Council hopes that the content provided in this digest and the subsequent issues will help inform your advocacy efforts until session ends (sine die) on April 30th. 
 
Each week the Capitol Connection will give a brief summary of relative events from the executive and legislative branches. As well as information on legislation that has moved that week. We will also include references to presentations, press conferences and conversations that may be of interest. Since this is Week 1, below is an exhaustive list of the bills that we are currently monitoring. Moving forward, we will only include bills that were considered and/or acted upon during that week.
 
The first column lists the bill number, name and sponsor and provides a hyperlink to the bill's text and history. The numbered circles represent the number of committees of reference for each bill, and the final column gives a brief description of the bill(s). Here is a key to help guide you in your review of where each bill is:
We are excited for the new year and all of the opportunities to ensure effective policy is passed that best support our children and families. As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

The Florida Children’s Council
Opening Day & State of the State Address
The 2021 60-day legislative session opened on Tuesday, March 2. House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, spoke to both chambers followed by the State of the State address by Governor Ron DeSantis.
 
Speaker Sprowls called for civility and House members coming together to find common ground. The Speaker’s priorities include early literacy, environmental protection, and addressing Florida’s workforce system. Senate President Simpson led with remarks about investing in skills based employment, child welfare, school choice, preservation of natural resources, and protection against COVID-19 litigation for businesses and health care providers.
 
Governor DeSantis focused his remarks on Florida’s response to COVID-19. He memorialized those lost due to the virus and thanked our first responders and medical personnel. He shared that Florida’s current fiscal outlook is significantly improved compared to last spring’s COVID-19 related financial forecasts. Florida’s economy has remained strong through the pandemic, and the governor touted the state’s efforts to keep schools and business open as contributing factors. The governor also spoke on the reduction of COVID-19 cases resulting from prioritizing vaccines for Florida residents over age 65. Governor DeSantis’s priorities are policy aimed at maintaining our State’s fiscal health, continuing to strengthen our K-12 education system, protecting our natural resources, bolstering our traditional and vocational education programs, limiting big tech, enforcing law and order, and election security. Additionally, he supports the COVID liability bills for business and health care, cracking down on foreign influence, reforms to improve the state’s legal climate, reform of emergency powers of local government, and infrastructure projects. He ended his remarks with a quote from Benjamin Franklin that speaks to the sun rising on a new dawn of freedom. The governor stated that such a sun is rising here in Florida, and our state will soon reach new horizons. 
Economic Self-Sufficiency
Sen. Perry
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Rep. Aloupis
❶❷❸
These comparable bills require the Auditor General to perform audits of specified programs to determine fiscal cliffs created by requirements to participate. HB 1349 requires that the University of Florida coordinate with the Office of Early Learning to conduct analysis on certain assistance programs.
Early Learning
Rep. Stewart
❶❷
Titled the "Child Safety Alarm Act" require certain vehicles to be equipped with a reliable alarm system to ensure safety of children being transported to child care facilities, require the Department of Children and Families to adopt by rule minimum safety standards for such systems and to maintain a list of approved alarm manufacturers and alarm systems.
These similar bills move the Office of Early Learning to the Department of Education to create a state birth through 20 education system, revises VPK accountability to ensure parents get timely information on their child’s progress, creates a provider profile that families can use when selecting early learning providers, and creates a Pre-k through 3rd grade literacy and math progress monitoring system to look at child progression over time, to ensure timely interventions and promote early grade success.
Out-Of-School Time Programs
Rep. Trabulsy
❶❷❸
These similar bills require summer camp personnel to be background screened and summer camp programs to register with DCF, as well as meet minimum health & safety regulations, and allows DCF or a local licensing agency to enforce these regulations.
Healthy Development
Committee on Children, Families & Elder Affairs and Rep. Rouson
❷❸
These similar bills provide that peer specialists are essential element of coordinated system of care in recovery from substance use disorder or mental illness. They revise background screening requirements for certain peer specialists, revise requirements for certification as peer specialist, and require DCF to develop training program for peer specialists. 
These identical bills require a home inspector to include certain information relating to swimming pools in their report. They require new residential swimming pools meet additional requirement in order to pass final inspection & receive certificate of completion. They require that certain pool safety features meet specified standard, and they prohibit property owner from transferring ownership of parcel that includes swimming pool unless certain requirements are met.
Rep. Bartleman
❶❷❸
These similar bills increase the income eligibility limit for coverage under the Florida Kidcare program. They require applicants to provide specified documentation if the Florida Kidcare program is unable to verify eligibility according to federal requirements. They authorize the Agency for Health Care Administration to seek federal waiver approval or submit state plan amendments as necessary. They require the agency to examine graduated family contribution rates for newly qualifying families under the Kidcare program.
Sen. Book
❶❷❸
This bill extends the duration for which a woman can receive services under Medicaid for postpartum care to one year after birth.
Rep. Brown
❶❷❸
This bill is similar to SB 238 that extends the duration women may be able to utilize Medicaid after birth to one year. 
Rep. Bartleman
❶❷❸
These identical bills remove the requirement that AHCA establish penalties or waiting periods for reinstatement of coverage, removes provisions relating to children who are not eligible to receive premium assistance, revises the limitation for eligibility for continuous coverage, and require applicants seeking coverage to provide documentation if eligibility cannot be verified using reliable data sources.
Children With Disabilities
These similar bills require the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to provide specified written information to persons applying for certain waiver services and require the agency to provide a certain disclosure statement along with such information.
Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee and Rep. DuBose and Rep. Plasencia
❶❷❸
These similar bills require school districts to prohibit the use of seclusion on students with disabilities in public schools, require school districts to adopt positive behavior interventions, supports, certain policies and procedures, creates the Video Cameras in Public School Classrooms Pilot Program. Furthermore, the bills require continuing education and in-service training for instructional personnel teaching students with emotional or behavioral disabilities.
These similar bills revise the timeline for development & implementation of individual education plan (IEP) for transition services for student with disabilities to postsecondary education & career opportunities. They revise requirements for IEP for transitions to postsecondary education & career opportunities.
Rep. Trabulsy
❶❷❸❹
Sen. Harrell
❶❷❸
These similar bills provide requirements for mandatory dyslexia screening for certain students & subsequent diagnosis of student. They establish a Dyslexia Task Force within DOE, provide requirements for such task force, remove requirement for district school superintendents to refer parents to home education review committee, and removes penalty for parents failing to provide portfolio to such committee.
Child Protection
These identical bills provide and revise provisions related to DCF, including community alliances, caregivers, family-finding program, kinship navigator programs, website requirements, contracts, managing entities, lead agencies, and child & family well-being system program. They require the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to submit reports.
Committee on Children, Families & Elder Affairs and Sen. Brodeur
❶❷
These comparable bills require the case record of every child under the supervision or in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, the department’s agents, or providers contracting with the department to include a case record face sheet, require the department to determine out-of-home placement based on priority of placements and other factors, establishes certain placement priorities for out-of-home placements, provides conditions under which a child may be removed from a caregiver’s home, requires the department or lead agency to make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same foster, kinship, adoptive, or guardianship home when certain conditions are met.
Rep. Book
❶❷❸
This bill specifies circumstances under which a court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem. It renames the Guardian Ad Litem Qualifications Committee as the Child Well-Being Qualifications Committee. It specifies that the executive director of the Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Office may be reappointed. It creates the Statewide Office of Child Representation within the Justice Administration Commission. It specifies when the court is authorized or required to appoint an attorney for the child.
Juvenile Justice
Rep. Smith, D.
❷❸
These identical bills remove the requirement that limits diversion program expunction to misdemeanor offenses. 
These similar bills provide exemption from public records requirements for nonjudicial record of arrest of minor who has successfully completed a diversion program, provide for retroactive application, and provides for future legislative review & repeal of exemption. 
Equity
Committee on Health Policy and Sen. Rouson
❷❸
These similar bills require the Office of Minority Health & Health Equity to develop & promote statewide implementation of certain policies, programs, & practices. They require a representative from each county health department to serve as minority health liaison, the office to maintain specified information on its website, and the office to serve as liaison to & assist certain federal offices. 
These identical bills establish the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion within EOG. They provide for appointment of Chief Diversity Officer, prescribe minimum qualifications for Chief Diversity Officer, and provide duties & responsibilities of Chief Diversity Officer.
K-12 Education
Sen. Burgess
❶❷❸
These similar bills establish New Worlds Reading Initiative under DOE, provide duties & responsibilities of administrator, provide requirements & procedures for participating entities, establish student eligibility requirements & options relating to book selection, require books be delivered at no cost to families, and authorize DOE to contract with third-party entity.
Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee and
Rep. Aloupis
 
No Committees of Reference yet
Sen. Rodriguez
❶❷❸
These similar bills provide and revise requirements relating to improvement of student literacy skills. They require DOE, in consultation with Office of Early Learning, to implement coordinated screening & progress monitoring system for VPK program through grade 8. They establish Reading Achievement Initiative for Scholastic Excellence Program within DOE, and they revise requirements relating to specified reading instruction allocation. Revises requirements for certain instructional personnel & professional development program.
For more information, please contact
Donovan Lee-Sin, Chief Public Policy & Engagement Officer at