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Issue 1  | March 6, 2017

Top News: 2017 FL Legislative Session Preview

The 2017 Florida Legislative Session opens on Tuesday, March 7th,  with a new set of budget and lobbying rules in the House, and many budget and policy issues to be resolved including tax cuts; state-funded business incentives; education, health care and judiciary reforms; water clean-up; gun laws and local vs. state authority.  Most important, the House and Senate must agree on and pass a state budget before the Session ends on May 5th.  The Governor will present his State of the State address to a Joint Session on Opening Day.
The  2017 United Way ALICE Report , released February 22nd in a Press Launch  at the Capitol Rotunda, highlights key issues faced by Florida's ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families. The new ALICE Report finds that 29.5 percent of Florida's working households are struggling to make ends meet, and another 14.5 percent earn less than the Federal Poverty Level. The  2017 Florida United Ways Consensus Legislative Agenda  addresses some key concerns of ALICE families in the areas of Early Education, Health Care and Financial Stability.
Each Monday during the legislative session, the United Gazette will provide a summary of the week's top stories, legislative highlights and bills to watch. For a deeper dive, visit the United Way of Florida's Legislative Link , published each Friday of the Session.
United Way of Florida - Financial Literacy and Prosperity Program
UW of Florida President Ted Granger presents the UW budget request to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.
United Ways' top priority this session is a $1.2 million appropriation request to expand the capacity of free tax preparation and financial education services in Florida. More than 31,000 low- and moderate-income working families will be served in all 67 Florida counties, generating more than $48 million in tax refunds and producing more than $2.75 million in additional state and local sales tax revenue.  Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona) is sponsoring the House bill ( HB 2153 ) and Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) is sponsoring the request in the Senate. 
Bills to Watch this Week

PKQ1 Civic Literacy: Bolsters civics instruction in Florida, K-20, to prepare students to be civically engaged, knowledgeable adults. Requires post-secondary students to demonstrate competence in civic literacy.
CS/SB 196 Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs (Flores, R-Miami): Requires the establishment of civil citation or similar diversion programs for juveniles.
SB 448 Prearrest Diversion Programs (Brandes, R-St. Petersburg): Encourages local communities and public or private educational institutions to implement prearrest diversion programs for certain offenders; authorizes law enforcement officers, at their sole discretion, to issue a civil citation to adults under specified circumstances; requires an adult who is issued a civil citation by a participating law enforcement agency to report for intake as required by the prearrest diversion program.
SB 78 Public School Recess (Flores, R-Miami): Requires each district school board to provide students in certain grades with a minimum number of minutes of free-play recess per week and with a minimum number of consecutive minutes of free-play recess per day.
SB 392 High School Graduation Requirements - Financial Literacy (Hukill, R-Port Orange): Revises the requirements for the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include financial literacy; revising the required credits for a standard high school diploma to include one-half credit of instruction in personal financial literacy and money management and seven and one-half, rather than eight, credits in electives.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.