Week 4 | February 3, 2018
Midpoint of 2018 Session
Budget Outlook
House and Senate budget committees approved their spending plans setting the stage for full chamber votes next week and budget conference the following week.

SB 2500  and HB 5001 , while only $100 million apart, outline different spending priority areas. The Senate budget totals $87.3 billion and the House budget totals $87.2 billion. Senate spending on public schools relies on $434 million more in property tax payments from homeowners due to rising property values, reports Steve Bousquet of  The Miami Herald . The House considers this measure a tax hike and therefore is opposed. The Senate wants to spend close to an additional $400 million on state universities, while the House has proposed to cut their budgets by $216 million. With the addition of recovery costs from Hurricane Irma and estimated expenditures through June, both budgets are $2 billion above current spending. (Lobbytools, January 31, 2018)

In addition to the budgets, many bills relating to children, youth and families have progressed this week.

Early Learning
School Readiness

SB 1254 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and its House companion HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) seek to reinforce and strengthen accountability measures in the publicly funded School Readiness program. The bills also restore local flexibility in determining eligibility so that early learning coalitions can prioritize children at greatest risk of school failure within communities. SB 1254 was reported favorably by the Education Committee on January 29 th and will be heard in the Judiciary Committee on February 6 th . HB 1091 awaits action in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

A bill relating to Early Learning Coalitions, SB 1532 , was filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) with the House companion, HB 1175 by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) that authorizes an early learning coalition to terminate a contract with School Readiness program providers for a Class I Health and Safety Violation. SB 1532 was reported favorably by the Education Committee on January 29 th . HB 1175 was reported favorably by the Education Committee on January 25 th and has been placed on the House floor on second reading.
Child Care Facilities

SB 1520 by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) and the House companion, HB 1129  by Rep. Bob Cortes (R-Altamonte Springs) require certain organizations offering child care through after-school programs to be licensed as child care facilities. SB 1520 was temporarily postponed in the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th , but will be considered on February 6 th . HB 1129 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Seniors Subcommittee on January 30 th .

Health

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

SB 434 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and its House companion, HB 407 by Rep. Bob Rommel (R-Naples) would require the Agency for Health Care Administration, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, to establish a pilot project licensing facilities to treat infants who suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome and to provide for data collection and research SB 434 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee on January 31 st . HB 407 has been referred to three committees and is awaiting action in the Health Innovation Subcommittee.
Child Immunization

SB 1680 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) and the House companion, HB 1045 by Rep. Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) revise provisions relating to the communicable disease prevention and control programs under the Department of Health. The bills propose to delete a provision that allows the parent or guardian of a child to refuse to have the child included in the immunization registry and revises school-entry health requirements to require that students have a certificate of immunization on file with the department’s immunization registry. SB 1680 awaits action in the Education Committee. HB 1045 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 1 st .
Mental Health and Substance Abuse

HB 1377 by Rep. David Silvers (D-West Palm Beach) and the similar Senate companion, SB 1790 by Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) require DCF to create a workgroup to provide recommendations for revising Baker Act. The bills also require the receiving facility administrator to file a petition for voluntary placement when persons younger than age 18 are admitted for voluntary mental health services or transferred to voluntary status and the court must hear the petition within five court working days. HB 1377 has been referred to three committees and awaits action in the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. SB 1790 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th .

SB 270 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and the House companion, HB 947 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) relate to involuntary examination and involuntary admission of minors. The bills authorize a designated law enforcement agency to decline to transport a minor 14 years of age or younger to a receiving facility for mental health or substance abuse evaluation if the parent or guardian of the minor agrees to transport the minor to the receiving facility. The bills require the examination of a minor 14 years of age or younger to be initiated within eight hours after the patient’s arrival at the receiving facility. SB 270 was reported favorably by the Criminal Justice Committee on January 29 th and now heads to the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee. HB 947 was reported favorably by the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee on January 30 th .


Child Welfare
Early Childhood Court Program

SB 1442 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and the House companion, HB 1351 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) establish the Early Childhood Court in statute and provide resources for supporting the program. The bills also require the Office of State Courts Administrator in coordination with one or more university based centers with an expertise in infant mental health to hire a statewide clinical director. The proposed policy includes provisions for the Florida Institute for Child Welfare to conduct an evaluation of the program’s impact in consultation with other entities. SB 1442 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th . HB 1351 awaits action in the Appropriations Committee.
Child Welfare

SB 774 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) and the House companion, HB 505 by Rep. Rick Roth (R-Palm Beach Garden) and Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale) revise the types of information relating to the identity and location of a child’s legal father that fall within the scope of a court inquiry at a shelter hearing or a hearing regarding a petition for termination of parental rights. The bills provide for certain unmarried biological fathers to receive notice of dependency hearings and requires notice of a petition for termination of parental rights to be served on an unmarried biological father identified under oath or by a diligent search of the Florida Putative Father Registry. SB 774 is awaiting a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. HB 505 was reported favorably by the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee on January 30 th .

SB 1514 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and SB 1360 by Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola) and HB 1079 by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) and HB 7065 by the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee and Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) focus on a wide breadth of modifications to the child welfare system including:

  • DCF establishing rules and procedures for granting exemptions from criminal history and other records checks required for persons being considered for placement of child
  • Revising equity allocation formula for community-based care lead agencies
  • Requiring child care personnel screening to include out-of-state criminal history records and sexual predator and sexual offender registry searches
  • Revising offenses that disqualify certain child care personnel from specified employment
  • Requiring the DCF to establish a certain exemption process and to adopt rules and procedures for the documentation necessary for exempting household members who have disabilities from being fingerprinted before a child is placed in the home
  • Requiring the department to take all the necessary steps to recover financial assistance provided to non-relative caregivers under certain circumstances
  • Authorizing the court to make certain determinations regarding placement of a child with a guardian
  • Terminates Relative Caregiver Program and transfers responsibilities to Guardianship Assistance Program.

SB 1514 has been referred to three committees. HB 1079 is awaiting action in the Health Care Appropriations Committee. HB 7065 (formerly PCB CFS1) was filed on January 30 th and has been referred to two committees. SB 1360 will be considered by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on February 6 th .

HB 1435 by Rep. Daniel Perez (R-Miami) and its Senate companion, SB 590 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) requires DCF, in collaboration with sheriffs’ offices that conduct child protective investigations & community-based care lead agencies, to develop a statewide family-finding program. The bills require the court to request that parents’ consent to providing access to additional records and requires the department to provide financial assistance to kinship and fictive kin caregivers who meet certain requirements. HB 1435 was reported favorably by the Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee on January 30 th . SB 590 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 6 th .

HB 1105 by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) and its Senate companion, SB 1650 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) provide for the name of a child's guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem to be entered on court orders in dependency proceedings. The bills require the court to advise parents during adjudicatory hearing of actions required to achieve reunification and modifies mandatory timeframes for dependency hearings and enter orders. HB 1105 is awaiting action in the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee. SB 1650 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th .
SB 522 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) and the House companion, HB 281 by Patricia Williams (D-Fort Lauderdale) require the Department of Children and Families to include parents who are incarcerated in the development of case plans for their children where reunification is a stated goal. The Department of Corrections must work with the incarcerated parent to ensure that they are able to access services and programs stipulated in the case plan. SB 522 was reported favorably by the Senate Rules Committee on January 25 th and awaits consideration by the full chamber. HB 281 passed unanimously in the full House on January 29 th .
Public Assistance

SB 508 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and the House companion HB 751 by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral) require CareerSource Florida, Inc., to submit in a detailed annual report certain information on individuals subject to mandatory work requirements who receive temporary cash or food assistance. The bills require the Department of Economic Opportunity to work with program participants in developing strategies to overcome obstacles to compliance with work activity requirements and creates the TANF Reemployment Pilot Program in Pinellas County. SB 508 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th . HB 751 was reported favorably by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on January 30 th .
Human Trafficking

HB 167 by Rep. Ross Spano (R-Riverview) and the Senate companion, SB 1044 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) "Civil Action for Victims of Human Trafficking and Prevention of Human Trafficking Act" provide civil cause of action for victims of human trafficking against trafficker or facilitator and provides procedures and requirements for bringing claim and receiving damages. HB 167 was temporarily postponed by the Judiciary Committee on February 1 st . SB 1044 has been referred to two committees.
Child Protection

HB 487   by Rep. Bobby Olszewski (R-Orlando) and SB 634 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) prohibit a child who has suffered sexual exploitation from being placed in a generic shelter setting when safe-harbor or trauma-informed housing is not available and require the Department of Children and Families to assemble a team of specified experts to determine the safest placement for the child. HB 487 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 1 st . SB 634 has been referred to three committees.

HB 7017 by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) and the Senate companion, SB 1214 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) authorize subpoenas in certain investigations of sexual offenses involving child victims and specify requirements and provide for separate offenses of transmission of child pornography. HB 7017 is awaiting full floor action. SB 1214 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th .

SB 1650 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) prohibits the Department of Children and Families from releasing the names of certain persons including school administrators, instructional personnel, and education support employees who have provided information during a protective investigation except under certain circumstances. The bill was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th .
Federal Funding

HM (House Memorial) 817 by Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) is a memorial to the Congress of the United States imploring the renewal of the Title IV-E Waivers for child welfare services. Florida is one of 26 states that have approved agreements with the federal government for the administration of child welfare services. Florida’s variance permits it to use funds for services beyond out-of-home care which removes the financial incentive to remove a child when it may not be the appropriate action. HM 817 was adopted by the full chamber on January 31 st and heads to the Senate.

Juvenile Justice
Direct Filing

SB 1552 by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) is similar to SB 392 and SB 1298 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and the House companion, HB 1417 by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City). The bills require that a prolific juvenile offender be held in secure detention until a detention hearing is held if the juvenile violated the conditions of non-secure detention. Two of these bills also include language to increase the age of a child that is required to or can be direct filed to the adult court system from 14 to 15 years old. SB 1298 has been referred to three committees. HB 1417 was reported favorably by the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on January 30 th . SB 392 and SB 1552 will be considered by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on February 6 th .
Juvenile Facilities

SB 1004 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and the House companion, HB 361 by Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D- Opa-Locka) authorize certain elected and state officials (or their designees) to visit all state facilities housing juveniles which are operated or overseen by the Department of Juvenile Justice and prohibit the department from unreasonably withholding permission for visits to such facilities by certain persons. SB 1004 awaits action in the Rules Committee. HB 361 was reported favorably by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on January 29 th and now heads to the Judiciary Committee.

Other Bills Affecting Children
Children with Unique Abilities

SB 146 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) and the House companion, HB 57 by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) and Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale) designate this act as the “Pro Bono Matters Act of 2018”; and require the payment of due process costs of litigation of all pro bono attorneys appointed to represent dependent children with certain special needs by the court. SB 146 passed unanimously in the full Senate on January 31 st . HB 57 was retained on the Special Order Calendar on January 24 th .

CS/HB 135 by Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) and the Senate companion, SB 290 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) require application for motor vehicle registration to include language indicating the applicant is deaf or hard of hearing. CS/HB 135 passed the House unanimously on January 31 st . SB 290 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee on January 31 st .

SB 1788 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and the House companion, HB 1373 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) prohibit the Agency for Persons with Disabilities from issuing a license to a new comprehensive transitional education program and prohibits the agency from renewing the license of an existing comprehensive transitional education program after December 31, 2020. SB 1788 was reported favorably by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on January 29 th . HB 1373 was reported favorably by the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee on January 30 th .
For more information, please contact
Donovan Lee-Sin, Director of Public Policy & Community Engagement at
donovan@thechildrenstrust.org or 305.571.5700 ext. 316.