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ISSUE 2 | MARCH 17, 2017
HouseMemberProjectsHouse Member Projects Total $2.58 Billion
A pre-session issue that threatened to shut down the budget process is a new House Rule that requires member projects to be filed as stand-alone Appropriations Project Bill s prior to session.  Speaker Corcoran believes the rule will save $1 billion by bringing into the Sunshine the multitude of "turkeys" that are traditionally added to the final appropriations bill during the last days and hours of session.
The rule has already revealed the depth and breadth of member projects that heretofore had to be individually identified by going page-by-page through the budget. At last count, 1,205 Appropriations Project Bills  had been filed totaling requests for $2.58 billion.
The rule has indeed added a tremendous amount of transparency to the process, but also proves the old adage that, "Turkey is in the eye of the beholder."  Water and sewer systems, roads, conservation projects, literacy and arts programs, an early intervention program for children with hearing loss , behavioral health crisis prevention teams , a comprehensive care model for children with autism , solar bus shelters , bridges, and a World Rowing Championship temporary facilities are just a few examples.
UWTaxPrepAssistanceUnited Way Tax Preparation Assistance Funding Request
Arguably the Appropriations Project Bill with the greatest return on investment to Florida workers, businesses, and taxpayers has been filed by Representative David Santiago.  HB 2153  requests $1.2 million to support the " United Way of Florida - Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program."  Senator Audrey Gibson is championing the request in the Senate.
The recently released Florida ALICE Report  provides the backdrop for the requests.  ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  ALICE households are working families that live above the Federal Poverty Level, yet still have a difficult time affording the basics of housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation, despite working.
ALICE workers are the backbone of virtually every major economic sector in Florida: agriculture, tourism, service, healthcare and education. They work hard, but still struggle to make ends meet.
And they are 44 percent of the households in Florida.  Almost half.  That is a staggering number that must be addressed if Florida's economy is to flourish, businesses thrive, and families improve their qualities of life.
The $1.2 million for the United Way of Florida - Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program will help to address the issue like few others.   Together with United Ways' match of $1.8 million, it will allow United Ways and our partners to:
  • helmortha31,000 ALICE families in all 67 counties receive more than $48 million in tax refunds and more than $13 million in Earned Income Tax Credits;
  • generate $2.75 million in state and local sales taxes; and
  • generate an additional $1.1 million in education tax credits for Floridians pursuing higher education.
Member of Parliament: Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep when I am speaking?

Winston Churchill: No, it's purely voluntary.
FloridaHouseFlorida House: "Reign In" Supreme Court
One of the bedrocks of our U.S. system of government is separation of the three branches of government, which is intended to ensure that no one person or group of people can amass too much power.   Each of the three branches is balanced by the powers of the other two coequal branches.
In Federalist No. 47 (1788), James Madison stated that, "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed [sic], or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
Tension among the branches has existed throughout our nation's history, from the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to provide advisory opinions when requested by President Washington (because it felt its task should be limited to adjudication of actual cases) to Franklin Roosevelt's attempts to stack the Court.
Because in recent years the Florida's Supreme Court has struck down legislation relating to workers compensation, the death penalty, stand your ground, charter schools, and more, House Speaker Richard Corcoran has declared that the Legislature must  "reign in" the Supreme Court to try to make the Justices stop "legislating from the bench."  As a result, two sets of bills have been field and have moved quickly through the House:  
  • House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1, which is poised to pass the full House, proposes a constitutional amendment that would create 12 year term limits for state Supreme Court Justices and Appellate Court Judges. If passed by the Legislature by a 3/5ths vote in each house, the constitutional amendment would be voted on by Floridians on November 6, 2018 and take effect January 9, 2019. The constitution requires 60 percent voter approval for passage.  The Senate companion, SJR 482, has not yet been heard. 
  • HB 301 requires, among others, that the Supreme Court prepare an annual report at the end of each year containing a "detailed explanation of the court's failure to render a decision or disposition" in pending cases older than six months.  It also is ready to be passed by the House.  It's Senate Companion, SB 878, was passed by the Judiciary Committee on the first day of session.
SnapshotSnapshot: 2017 Florida Legislature

160 Lawmakers:
  • $28,000 legislative paycheck
  • 53 millionaires
Average Net Worth:
  • Senators - $3.5 million
    • Rs - $5 million
    • Ds - $1.1 million
  • Representatives - $1.5 million
    • Rs - $2 million
    • Ds - $569,763
"I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it."  -- Bill Gates
FSECCFlorida State Employees' Charitable Campaign: Repealed?
The Florida State Employees' Charitable Campaign (FSECC) was created in 1980 and placed into law in 1993.  It is the only authorized charitable fundraising drive directed toward state employees within work areas during work hours, and for which the state provides payroll deduction.  Over the years, state employees have generously contributed more than $90 million to participating charities through the FSECC.
Florida's United Ways acted as fiscal agents and provided campaign support services for the Campaign from 1980 until 2012, when we were notified by the Department of Management Services (DMS) that the fiscal agent contract would be awarded to Solix, Inc., a for-profit corporation located in New Jersey.
The Department's stated purposes for changing fiscal agents was to standardize accounting and reporting of contributions , and to address their concerns that it was inappropriate for a charity participating in the FSECC (i.e., United Way) to be responsible for funds intended for other participating charities.
Unfortunately, since Solix assumed fiscal agent responsibilities for the Campaign, participation and contributions dwindled and administrative expenses skyrocketed.  Statewide campaign totals decreased from $2.6 million in 2011 (the last year of the United Way contract) to $547,297 in 2015, a 79.6 percent decrease, and administrative expenses paid to Solix skyrocketed to more than 71 percent of the funds raised during that 2015 Campaign.  During the final eight years of the United Way's contract (2004-2011), the average statewide administrative cost was 11.9 percent.
Employee participation was so low and the projected administrative expenses so high that DMS cancelled the 2016 Campaign before it ended.
Due largely to the Campaign's dismal results over the last couple of years, the House Government Accountability Committee passed CS/HB 1141 on Thursday.  The bill repeals the FSECC and prohibits charitable fundraising by or for employees in the workplace during work hours.
Future Legislative Links will delve into why the FSECC's demise hurts state workers, state government, charities and, most of all, the millions of people who were helped by Campaign donations over the decades.
( Portions excerpted from Legislative staff analyses.)
ChildrenObtainingDLChildren Obtaining Driver Licenses
Children in the foster care system often face barriers to participating in everyday life experiences common to other young people their age. These life experiences are a part of how all children are prepared for the responsibilities they will assume as adults.  Foster care children who are not able to learn or gain experience driving miss an important part of learning how to be independent, including being able to work and participate in extracurricular activities.
CS/SB 60   expands statewide the program that provides motor vehicle insurance and driver licenses to children in out-of-home care who are in relative and non-relative placements. It also provides assistance to children who have reached permanency or turned 18 under certain circumstances. The program is authorized to pay for a child in out-of-home care to complete a driver education program and obtain a driver license or the related costs of licensure under certain circumstances. The bill continues the program beyond the 3-year pilot period.
The bill requires the child's transition plan and the court to address the issue of a child in care being able to obtain a driver license.  It provides that a guardian ad litem authorized by a minor's caregiver may sign for the minor's learner's driver license and not assume any obligation or liability for damages caused by the minor.
LAST ACTION: 3/16/2017 SENATE  Favorable by Appropriations.
EmergencyServicesEmergency Services for an Unintentional Drug Overdose
Drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.
Drug overdose deaths doubled in Florida from 1999 to 2012, and Florida is currently in the midst of an opioid crisis.  In 2015, Florida ranked fourth in the nation with 3,228 deaths from drug overdoses, and deaths caused by heroin and fentanyl increased more than 75 percent statewide when compared with 2014.
Florida law provides that a hospital cannot refuse to accept a person with an emergency medical condition if the service is within that hospital's capability and capacity. Persons requiring care beyond the hospital's capability or capacity must be transferred to another facility that can provide the needed services.
CS/HB 61 requires a hospital with an emergency department to develop a best practices policy to reduce readmissions for unintentional drug overdoses. The goal of the policy is to connect patients that experience unintentional drug overdoses with substance abuse treatment services.
The bill allows hospitals to determine what should be included in its best practices policy. However, bill offers several recommendations for what the policy may contain. Those recommendations include:
  • A process for obtaining patient consent to disclose to patient's next of kin and the primary care physician or practitioner who prescribed a controlled substance of the patient's overdose, her or his location, and the nature of the substance or controlled substance involved in the overdose.
  • A process for providing information to the patient or the patient's next of kin regarding licensed substance abuse treatment providers and voluntary and involuntary commitment procedures for mental health or substance abuse treatment.
  • Controlled substance prescribing guidelines for emergency department health care practitioners.
  • The use of licensed or certified behavioral health professionals or peer specialists in emergency departments to encourage the patient to voluntarily seek substance abuse treatment.
  • The use of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment protocols in the emergency department.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Health Innovation Subcommittee.
PublicSchoolRecessPublic School Recess
SB 78  requires each district school board to provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5. Such recess must involve at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play per day.
LAST ACTION: 3/16/2017 SENATE Favorable by Appropriations.
EducationJustReadFloridaEducation: Just Read Florida
The rate of third grade students performing below grade level in reading has consistently exceeded 40 percent over the past several years.  Although Florida law requires districts to implement interventions and supports for struggling readers, teachers may not receive adequate training in effective strategies to improve the reading performance of all students, including those with conditions such as dyslexia.
To help schools identify struggling readers more quickly and implement effective instruction and interventions, CS/HB 79 , among others:
  • requires the Just Read, Florida! Office to provide training in explicit, systematic, and multisensory reading strategies and identify instructional and intervention programs that incorporate those strategies;
  • requires teacher preparation programs to provide candidates for specified certification areas training in explicit, systematic, and multisensory reading strategies;
  • prohibits districts from waiting until a student receives a failing grade in reading to initiate interventions;
  • enhances communication to parents by requiring the Department of Education to develop a handbook that districts must provide to parents of students with a substantial reading deficiency;
  • requires teachers who teach retained third graders to hold a reading certificate or endorsement; and
  • requires the department to periodically review certification and coverage areas that involve reading instruction and recommend changes to improve training and instruction.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Pre-k Quality Subcommittee.
OffensesbyIllegalImmigrantsOffenses by Illegal Immigrants
For certain offenses, Florida law provides for reclassification of the crime to the next higher degree and increases the offense severity ranking by one level. Examples of current offenses that are subject to reclassification provisions are crimes motivated by prejudice, and assault and battery offenses against a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties
CS/HB 83  reclassifies five violent crimes to the next higher degree and enhances their severity ranking one rank higher than the normal ranking committed by an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States. The offenses qualifying for the enhanced penalty are:
  • sexual battery;
  • aggravated assault with a deadly weapon;
  • murder;
  • unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging a destructive device or bomb; and
  • armed burglary.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
SelfDefenseImmunitySelf-Defense Immunity
CS/SB 128  shifts the burden of proof to the state in pretrial hearings to determine whether a defendant is immune from criminal prosecution based on claimed justifiable use of force. Additionally, the bill requires the state to prove its burden beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt is the same burden of proof imposed on the state in the prosecution of criminal cases, including cases in which self-defense is raised at trial as an affirmative defense.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 SENATE Amendment Passed.
SmallBusinessSmall Business Financial Assistance
CS/SB 152  creates the Veterans Employment Small Business Grant Program to encourage small businesses in Florida to hire veterans. Under the program, a small business in Florida that hires a veteran as an employee may receive a one-time grant of $1,500 for each veteran hired, or $3,000 for each disabled veteran hired by the small business. These awards may not exceed $10,500 per fiscal year for a qualifying small business.
To qualify for a grant under the program, a small business must agree to:
  • employ a qualifying veteran for at least one year;
  • provide a report with information on the employment status of each qualifying veteran under certain situations;
  • pay each qualifying veteran an amount equal to at least 90 percent of the annual median income for veterans in Florida based on the most recent federal census or the most recent American Community Survey 5-year estimated published by the U.S. Census Bureau;
  • invest any awarded grant moneys into the small business to facilitate further job creation and employment of veterans; and
  • not rehire a veteran previously claimed as an employee in order to receive funds under the program.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 SENATE Favorable with CS by Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security.
MiddleSchoolStudyMiddle School Study
HB 293  directs the Florida Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive study of states with high-performing students in grades 6 through 8 in reading and mathematics, based on the state's performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The findings of the study must be reported to the Governor, the State Board of Education, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 2017. The study must include a review of the following general topics:
  • academic expectations and instructional strategies;
  • availability of student support services;
  • attendance policies and student mobility issues;
  • teacher quality;
  • middle school administrator leadership and performance; and
  • parental and community involvement.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2014 HOUSE Favorable by PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee.
ReligiousExpressionReligious Expression in Public Schools
CS/HB 303  authorizes a student to:
  • Express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments free from discrimination.
  • Wear jewelry that displays a religious message or symbol to the same extent as secular types of jewelry that displays messages or symbols are permitted.
  • Engage in and organize religious groups before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that secular student organizations and groups are permitted.
The bill also requires a school district to:
  • Allow a religious group the same access to the same school facilities for assembling as given to a secular group and allow a religious or secular group to advertise or announce its meetings.
  • Permit school personnel to participate in religious activities on school grounds that are student-initiated and at reasonable times before or after the school day as long as the activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the duties and responsibilities of such school personnel.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee.
HSgraduationrequirementsHigh School Graduation Requirements
CS/SB 392  creates the "Personal Financial Literacy Education Act" to specify financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year. The bill revises:
  • the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to establish requirements for financial literacy distinct from the existing financial literacy requirements specified under the economics curricular content within the standards for social studies; and
  • the requirements for a student to earn a standard high school diploma by:
    • establishing a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy;
    • deleting the requirement that the one-half credit in economics include financial literacy; and
    • reducing the number of required elective credits from eight to seven and one-half.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 SENATE Favorable by Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K - 12 Education.
UseofAnimalsUse of Animals in Proceedings Involving Minors
Under CS/CS/SB 416 , a court may authorize the use of a facility dog to assist a victim or witness who must testify in a proceeding involving a sexual offense or in a dependency proceeding. The bill also expands the class of victims and witnesses who may use the assistance of an animal in giving testimony to include those having an intellectual disability.
Under current law, only a service or therapy animal may assist witnesses or victims who are required to testify. The bill removes references to "service animals" from current statute, and includes "facility dogs" as animals that may assist in relevant proceedings. As used in a courtroom, therapy animals and facility dogs fulfill the same purpose. This purpose is protecting the victim or witness from severe emotional or mental harm, which might occur while testifying in the presence of the defendant.
The difference between a service or therapy animal and a facility dog appears to be in their qualifications. Under current law, a service or therapy animal must be evaluated and registered according to national standards. Under the bill, a therapy animal or facility dog must be trained and evaluated according to industry standards.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 SENATE Favorable with CS by Criminal Justice.
FLCriminalJusticeReformFlorida Criminal Justice Reform Task Force
The Florida Department of Corrections is the third largest state prison system in the country. It incarcerates approximately 100,000 inmates in correctional facilities and supervises nearly 140,000. As of June 30, 2015, there were 11,000 correctional officers. The Department's annual budget is $2.4 billion for 2016.
At least 25 states have used what is commonly called justice reinvestment to develop and adopt prison reforms.  The process involves an analysis of the data on what drives prison populations and costs, enactment of policies that address those factors, investments that support carrying out the changes, and oversight and measurement to ensure the desired results are being achieved.
Half the states have reduced their prison populations since 2009. Five states, Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Utah, adopted reforms in 2014 and 2015 that have a collective projected savings or avoided cost of more than $1.7 billion over the next two decades
SB 458  creates a 28-member joint legislative entity called Florida Criminal Justice Reform Task Force for conducting a comprehensive review of the state's criminal justice system, court system, and corrections system. The task force must submit a report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for proposed legislation during the 2018 Legislative Session.
LAST ACTION: 3/13/2017 SENATE Favorable by Criminal Justice.
FamilySelfSuffFamily Self-Sufficiency
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families in the form of funds to purchase eligible food. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), administers SNAP, and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) distributes the benefits. Federal law offers two eligibility pathways for SNAP:
  • Having a gross income below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (or 165 percent FPL if at least one person is age 60 or older or is disabled) and less than $2,250 of counted liquid assets (or $3,250 if at least one person is age 60 or older or is disabled); or
  • Being "categorically," or automatically, eligible based on receiving benefits from other specified low-income assistance programs.
During the recent recession, Florida became one of forty states implementing broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) to expand eligibility for SNAP, setting eligibility for most households at 200 percent FPL or less. Florida also waived asset limits for SNAP in most cases. As of November 30, 2016, 3,331,377 total individuals were enrolled in SNAP in Florida. Certain adult SNAP recipients must meet work requirements as a condition of benefit receipt.
Among others, CS/CS/HB 581  eliminates BBCE for SNAP and aligns Florida's eligibility requirements with the federal minimum eligibility requirements for all initial applications and recertifications for SNAP benefits after January 1, 2018. The bill reinstates asset limits and requires DCF to contract with a vendor to verify liquid assets. At least 229,311 (6.8 percent) of SNAP recipients will no longer be eligible based on the income and asset limit changes.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 House Favorable with CS by Appropriations Committee.
TaskForceAffordableHousingTask Force on Affordable Housing
CS/SB 854  creates a 13-member task force on affordable housing to develop recommendations concerning Florida's affordable housing needs.
The recommendations of the task force must include, but are not limited to, a review of:
  • market rate developments;
  • affordable housing developments;
  • land use for affordable housing developments;
  • building codes for affordable housing developments;
  • the states' implementation of the low-income housing tax credit;
  • private and public sector development and construction industries; and
  • the rental market for assisted rental housing.
The task force must also include recommendations for the development of strategies and pathways for low-income housing in a report submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2018. The task force will be dissolved on June 30, 2018, or an earlier date determined by the task force.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 SENATE Favorable with CS by Community Affairs.
CS/SB 884  codifies the prohibition against shark finning, which is established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by rule and provides enhanced penalties for violations relating thereto.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 SENATE CS by Environmental Preservation and Conservation.
YouthfulOffendersYouthful Offenders
SB 892  allows the court to impose a sentence as a youthful offender if a person committed a felony before they turned 21 years of age. Current law requires the person be under 21 at the time of sentencing.
LAST ACTION: 3/13/2017 SENATE Favorable by Criminal Justice.
NewbornScreeningNewborn Screenings
Newborn screening is a preventive public health program that is provided in every state in the United States to identify, diagnose, and manage newborns at risk for selected disorders that, without detection and treatment, can lead to permanent developmental and physical damage or death. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) advises HHS on the most appropriate application of universal newborn screening tests, technologies, policies, guidelines and standards. ACHDNC establishes the heritable disorders listed on the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).
In Florida, the Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for administering the statewide Newborn Screening Program (NSP), which conducts screenings for 53 hereditary and congenital disorders. Once a disorder is added to the RUSP, it is reviewed by DOH's Genetic and Newborn Screening Advisory Council (GNSAC) to determine whether to recommend the disorder be added to the NSP panel.
CS/HB 963  amends s. 383.14, F.S., to require DOH to adopt rules requiring every newborn in the state, at the appropriate age, to be tested for any condition listed on the federal RUSP that the GNSAC advises should be included in the NSP panel. DOH must adopt the rules to include any condition the GNSAC recommends within one year of its recommendation.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Health Quality Subcommittee.
PregnancySupportServicesPregnancy Support Services
The Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program (FPSSP), was established in 2005, to provide supportive counseling and services to pregnant women and their families that promote and encourage childbirth. Under contract with the Department of Health (DOH), Florida Pregnancy Care Network, Inc. (FPCN) manages a network of pregnancy help centers that offer services such as pregnancy testing, counseling, education and training, and referrals to state, community, and medical resources.
The program was created by proviso in 2005, and has received annual appropriations since 2006. The bill codifies the program and defines program requirements.
CS/HB 969  requires DOH to contract with FPCN, to provide contract management services for the delivery of pregnancy support and wellness services to eligible clients.
LAST ACTION: 3/15/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Health Quality Subcommittee.
ChildWelfareChild Welfare
CS/SB 1044   makes a number of revisions to current law to improve the care of children in the child welfare system.  Among others, the bill:
  • requires the state to identify the father earlier in the legal process to allow for more placement options and family involvement for a child removed by the department;
  • allows the department to return an abused or neglected child to his or her home with an in- home safety plan when the conditions that caused the child to be removed are resolved rather than when the parents have substantially completed their case plan;
  • requires the department to consider the safety of any new children added to the home of a family after a child abuse investigation has begun;
  • requires a parent to be assessed for substance abuse and complete treatment when there is evidence of harm to a child as a result of substance abuse;
  • allows the state to terminate parental rights when a child has been placed in out-of-home care in any jurisdiction three or more times; and
  • makes additional changes such as prohibiting payments under the Relative Caregiver Program when the parent is living with the relative along with the child, allowing the release of medical records by hospitals and physicians for child abuse cases, and using child abuse records to screen employees of group homes for foster children.
LAST ACTION 3/13/2017 SENATE Favorable with CS by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs .
TANFTemporary Assistance for Needy Families Applicant Drug Screening
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a block grant that provides states, territories, and tribes federal funds each year to cover benefits, administrative expenses, and services targeted to needy families. Federal law allows states to test welfare recipients for use of controlled substances and sanction those recipients who test positive.
In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law requiring all TANF applicants to submit to a drug test as a condition of eligibility to receive benefits. The law was later held unconstitutional.
CS/HB 1117  amends Florida law to limit drug testing of TANF applicants who:
  • have a previous drug-related felony conviction within the last ten years; and
  • the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has a reasonable suspicion to believe are engaging in the illegal use of a controlled substance.
LAST ACTION: 3/13/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee.
ChildWelfare2Child Welfare
The Department of Children and Families' (DCF) child welfare practice model (model) standardizes the approach to risk assessment and decision making used to determine a child's safety. The model seeks to achieve the goals of safety, permanency, and child and family well-being. It emphasizes parent engagement and empowerment as well as the training and support of child welfare professionals to assess child safety and emphasizes a family-centered practice with the goal of keeping children in their homes whenever possible.
CS/HB 1121  makes multiple changes to the child welfare statutes to protect vulnerable children. Among others, the bill:
  • improves the assessment of risk for children by changing the process that DCF and the dependency court use to assess and order services for substance exposed newborns and children who enter households already under investigation or under the dependency court's jurisdiction;
  • expedites permanency for children by making changes to the procedures the dependency court and DCF use to identify and locate prospective parents requiring an inquiry and search much earlier in the dependency case;
  • fosters more meaningful engagement of families by making changes that facilitate more participation by a child in his or her case planning, streamline processes for child protective investigators, and align statute with current practice to include conditions for return and Family Functioning Assessments;
  • allows DCF to use confidential abuse registry information and investigation records for residential group home employment screening, to align with foster home screening requirements; and
  • permits hospitals and physician's offices to release patient records to DCF or its contracted entities for the purpose of investigations of or services for cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children or vulnerable adults.
LAST ACTION: 3/13/2017 HOUSE Favorable with CS by Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee.
VeteransAnnualSalesTaxVeterans' Annual Sales Tax Holiday
CS/SB 1202  establishes an annual, one-day sales tax holiday for veterans on November 11. During the holiday, clothing items under $60 are exempt from the state sales tax. A retailer may elect not to participate if less than five percent of the retailer's gross sales of tangible personal property in the prior calendar year are comprised of clothing items as defined by the bill.
The Revenue Estimating Conference estimates that the bill reduces General Revenue receipts by
$1.4 million in Fiscal Year 2017-2018, with a $1.4 million recurring reduction.
LAST ACTION: 3/14/2017 SENATE Favorable with CS by Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security.


Session Dates

"Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." 
-- Mark Twain
United Way of Florida, 307 E. Seventh Avenue, Tallahassee, FL  32303  -  phone: 850.488.8287