Week 5 – Spending Plans Approved
The House and Senate chambers have approved their respective spending plans setting the stage for budget conferences in the weeks ahead. The two budgets, SB 2500 and HB 5001, are only $100 million apart, but differences in priorities between the chambers has lead to vastly different allocations. With the House taking lead on the budget this year, there will be much discussion on the overall spending plans over the next month.
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 Judiciary Committee on February 6th and now heads to its final committee of reference, Appropriations. HB 1091 was amended to include provisions related to the voluntary use of child assessments for School Readiness providers. It was reported favorably by the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on February 6th and has moved on to its final stop in the Education Committee.
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 its second committee of reference, the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education, on February 8th. HB 1175 is awaiting action on the House floor.
Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program
SB 1738 by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and HB 1297 by Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoee) prohibit a private prekindergarten provider from participating in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or the School Readiness program for five years if they have been cited for four or more violations relating to the supervision of children within a two-year period. SB 1738 was reported favorably by the Education Committee on February 6th and moves on to its second committee of reference. HB 1297 has been referred to two committees and is awaiting action in its first committee, PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee.
Early Childhood Music Education
SB 654 by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) extends the scheduled expiration of the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program. The bill cleared its second committee stop with a favorable vote by the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education on February 8th. There is currently not a House companion.
Child Care Facilities
SB 486 by Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and the House companion, HB 305 by Rep. Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) create the “Child Safety Alarm Act” which requires vehicles used by child care facilities and large family child care homes to be equipped with a reliable alarm system that prompts the driver to inspect the vehicle for children before exiting. SB 486 is scheduled to be heard for the first time in the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on February 12th. HB 305 has been referred to three committees and is awaiting action in the Children, Families, and Seniors Subcommittee.
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. The bills include language that mirror exemptions of the DCF rule but remove the blanket exemption for membership organizations that are affiliated with a national organization. HB 1129 is awaiting a hearing in its second committee of reference, Health Care Appropriations Subcommitee. SB 1520 was temporarily postponed for a second time on February 6th, the bill’s sponsor indicated that he will work with stakeholders and will refile next year.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
SB 270 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and HB 947 by Rep. Bobby Payne (R-Palatka) both relate to involuntary examination and involuntary admission of minors. In different forms, the bills seek to revise processes related to the Baker Act for minors. SB 270 is waiting to be heard in its second committee, Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. HB 947 was reported favorably in its final committee, Health and Human Services, on February 7th.
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:
SB 1514 has been referred to three committees. HB 1079 and HB 7065 (formerly PCB CFS1) were reported favorably by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 6th. SB 1360 was reported favorably by the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on February 6th and is now in its second stop, the Appropriation Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
HB 1435 by Rep. Daniel Perez (R-Miami) and its Senate companion, SB 590 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) require 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 is awaiting action in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. SB 590 was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee on February 6th and advances to the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcomittee.
HB 7039 (formerly PCB CRJ 18-03) is a House committee bill relating to Human Trafficking that provides a mandatory minimum sentence for certain human trafficking offenses, expands the definition of an adult and prohibits assessing certain fees and costs to victims of human trafficking seeking criminal records expungement. The Senate companion, SB 1502 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) has been referred to three committees. HB 7039 was reported favorably by the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on February 6th and is now in its last committee of reference, Judiciary.
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 1st. SB 1044 is scheduled to be heard in its first stop, the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee, on February 12th.
HB 417 by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Hollywood) and its Senate companion, SB 1212 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) provide 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. HB 417 passed all committees of references and is now on the Calendar on Second Reading. SB 1212 was reported favorably by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on February 6th and now moves to its final committee, Rules.
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 passed the House on January 31st and will be heard in the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee on February 12th.
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 in its final stop by the Judiciary Committee on February 7th. SB 392 was not considered by the Criminal Justice Committee on February 6th. SB 1552 was reported favorably by its first committee of reference, Criminal Justice, on February 6th.
OTHER BILLS AFFECTING CHILDREN
Children with Unique Abilities
HB 63 by Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Sunrise) and the Senate companion, SB 260 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) provide requirements for use of seclusion, restraint, and exclusionary and nonexclusionary time and require continuing education and in-service training relating to students with certain disabilities. HB 63 has been placed on the House Calendar on Second Reading. SB 260 was reported favorably by the Education Committee on February 6th and is scheduled to be heard on February 13th in the Health Policy Committee.
SB 1286 by Sen. David Simmons (R-Longwood) revises the meaning of a rare disease within the definition of a “disability” for purposes of the Gardiner Scholarship Program to include those defined in the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. The bill was reported favorably by the second of three committee references, the Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education, on February 8th.