Week 9 | March 10, 2018
Extended Session on the Budget – Legislative Session to Adjourn (Sine Die) March 11, 2018
The 2018 legislative session opened with a great deal of attention and focus on differing priorities for each chamber. House leadership called for more transparency in policy issues and budget with priorities of K-12 education and reduced spending. The Senate leadership priorities focused on higher education and environmental protection. Meanwhile, the Governor continued to prioritize economic development. However, the focus and priorities of session changed to school and public safety following the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14 th .

The formal budget process did not begin until the last week of session. The completed budget and conforming bills that propose changes to law related to the budget were released on Thursday, March 8 th . In order to allow the required 72 hour cooling off period for the budget, President Joe Negron and Speaker Richard Corcoran announced that session would extend until March 11 th to take up the budget and budget related bills.

After both chambers vote to pass the budget, it will then be sent to Governor Scott where he will have the option of a full veto, line-item veto, veto of specific conforming bills, or signing the package in its entirety into law.

Although priorities evolved for both chambers, many bills related to children, youth and families were passed this session. The bills were focused on topics including: early learning, child welfare, juvenile justice, and children with unique abilities bills and are on their way to the Governor to be signed into law.

School Safety

 SB 7026 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act
(Approved by Governor Rick Scott, March 9, 2018)

Policy Summary:

  • Provides the awarding of funds for the creation of student crime watch programs
  • Allows a sheriff to create the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program
  • Participation in this program must be agreed to by both the sheriff and the superintendent of schools
  • Individual participants may not be exclusively classroom instructors
  • Authorizes a law enforcement officer to seize and hold firearms and ammunition if taking custody of a person who poses a potential credible threat to him/herself or others
  • Authorizes law enforcement to petition a court for a risk protection order to seize the firearms of certain individuals and provides for the timeline and procedures for return
  • Requires the order be entered into state and federal crime databases
  • Requires the order to be shared with the appropriate law enforcement entities
  • Requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to contract for additional Community Action Teams to work in conjunction with the school board
  • Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective from owning or possessing a firearm
  • Raises minimum age for all firearm purchases through a licensed dealer from 18 to 21
  • Creates a three day waiting period (with certain exceptions) for prospective firearm purchasers of three days or until the completion of a background check; whichever is longer
  • The possession, sale or transfer of bump stocks is banned
  • Prohibits a person from making, posting or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism
  • Create a mobile suspicious activity tool with certain features for anonymous reporting (named FortifyFL as recommended by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas)
  • Creates the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Creates the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education
  • Requires the Department of Education to procure a Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool under the Office of Safe Schools
  • Requires students to participate in active shooter drills as part of emergency preparedness
  • Allows for confidential information to be shared among state and local agencies if determined necessary for proper treatment of a student.
  • Requires school resource officers and school safety officers to undergo specified evaluations
  • Requires the Department of Education to establish an evidenced-based youth mental health awareness and assistance program to be provided to all school personnel in elementary, middle and high schools

Fiscal Overview:

  • $69 million to the Department of Education to add to the Florida Education Finance Program to fund the mental health assistance allocation
  • $6 million for youth mental health awareness and assistance training
  • $1 million for the design and construction of a memorial on the school grounds
  • $25 million for the purpose of replacing Building 12 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
  • $67 million for implementing the Guardian Program
  • An additional $98 million to the Department of Education for the safe schools allocation
  • $99 million to implement a grant program for school hardening
  • $10 million to DCF to competitively procure additional Community Action Teams (CAT Teams)
  • $18 million for DCF to competitively procure proposals for additional mobile crisis teams around the state

Early Learning

 School Readiness

HB 1091 by Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach) substituted for SB 1254 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) passed the Senate on March 8 th and now heads to the Governor. The bill seeks to reinforce and strengthen accountability measures in the publicly funded School Readiness program. The bill also restores local flexibility in determining eligibility so that early learning coalitions can prioritize children at greatest risk of school failure within communities.

HB 7055 by Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami) passed the Senate on March 5 th and the House concurred shortly thereafter. The bill is an omnibus education bill that incorporates many, many policies. Among other things, the bill establishes the Hope Scholarship and tax-credit scholarship program, streamlines and strengthens oversight of private schools participating in various, establishes Reading Scholarship Accounts for struggling readers in grades 3-5, and requires paper based administration of Language arts and mathematics assessments for grades 7 and 8. Also in this bill are requirements for the school district to display the state motto “In God We Trust” in schools, requires instruction of CPR for students, and modifies charter school administration and oversight.


Perinatal Mental Health

HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) was substituted for SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) creating the "Florida Families First Act", passed the Senate on March 9 th and now heads to the Governor for signature. The bill would require the Department of Health to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care, as well as revise components that are included in the postpartum evaluation and follow-up care provided by birth centers to include a mental health screening and the provision of certain information on postpartum depression.

Child Welfare
Child welfare

HB 1435 by Rep. Daniel Perez (R-Miami) was substituted for SB 590 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and passed the Senate on March 8 th . The bill 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 bill also requires 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. The bill now heads to the Governor to be approved and signed into law.

HB 1079 by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) was substituted for SB 1360 by Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola), passed the Senate on March 8 th and now heads to the Governor. The bill focuses 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
Child Protection

HB 417 by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Hollywood) was substituted for SB 1212 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation), passed the House on March 8 th and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill provides an exemption from public records requirements to certain identifying and location information of current or former directors, managers, supervisors, and clinical employees of child advocacy centers that meet certain standards and requirements including members of a child protection team, and their spouses and children.

J uvenile Justice
Civil Citation

SB 1392 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) was substituted for HB 1197 by Rep. Larry Ahern (R-Seminole) and passed the Senate on March 9 th . It will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. The bill requires, in every judicial circuit, the establishment of a pre-arrest diversion program and modifies processes and procedures relating to the administration of diversion and civil citation programs. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to expunge the nonjudicial arrest record of a minor if the diversion program submits certification for expunction.
Direct Filing

SB 1552 by Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) was substituted for HB 1417 by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) and passed the Senate on March 9 th . The bill now heads to the Governor for signature. It requires 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. The bill also includes 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.
Juvenile Facilities

HB 361 by Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka) was substituted for SB 1004 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), passed the Senate on March 6 th and now heads to Governor Scott. The bill authorizes 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 prohibits the department from unreasonably withholding permission for visits to such facilities by certain persons.

Other Bills Affecting Children
Children with Unique Abilities

SB 146 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) was substituted for HB 57 by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) and Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Ft. Lauderdale). This act was designated the “Pro Bono Matters Act of 2018”. The bill passed the Senate on February 14 th . The bill requires the payment of due process costs of litigation of all pro bono attorneys appointed to represent dependent children with certain special needs, subject to appropriations and review for reasonableness.

HB 1373 by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) was substituted for SB 1788 by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), passed the Senate on March 8 th and now heads to the Governor. The bill prohibits the Agency for Persons with Disabilities from issuing a license to a new comprehensive transitional education program and prohibit the agency from renewing the license of an existing comprehensive transitional education program after December 31, 2020.

CS/HB 135 by Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) was substituted for SB 290 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), passed the Senate on March 7 th and now heads to the Governor. The bill requires applications for motor vehicle registration to include language indicating applicant is deaf or hard of hearing.

SB 140 by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers) pertaining to child marriage was substituted for HB 335 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami), passed the Senate on March 9 th and now heads to the Governor. The bill implements a total ban of marriage for anyone under the age of 18. The only exception to this ban allows marriage certificates for 17 year-olds who have written parent consent and are marrying someone no more than two years older.

The 2018 - 2019 State Budget Summary
Budget negotiations between the House and the Senate on SB 2500  and HB 5001 began on Tuesday, February 27 th . House and Senate leadership gave conference chairs until Thursday, March 1 st  to complete their work and bump up remaining issues to the budget chairs. Any issues not resolved by budget chairs must be bumped to the presiding officers. The final budget was distributed to House and Senate members on Thursday, March 8 th to meet the mandatory 72 hour cooling-off period before the final vote on Sunday, March 11 th , two days later than the last day of the regular legislative session of March 9 th .
2018 -2019 Budget Comparison (By Line Item)
For more information, please contact
Donovan Lee-Sin, Director of Public Policy & Community Engagement at
donovan@thechildrenstrust.org or 305.571.5700 ext. 316.