News & Events
WEEK 6 – Waiting for Budget Conference
The House and Senate chambers have yet to initiate budget conferences on their two appropriation bills, SB 2500 and HB 5001. Additionally, as the legislative session winds down, the window for committee meetings in both chambers is drawing to a close. The Senate cancelled floor action this week to continue moving some of their critical issues through their final committee process. Bills of interest that saw action this week are below.
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. In its previous stop, HB 1091 was amended to include provisions related to the voluntary use of child assessments for School Readiness providers. On February 15th, it was reported favorably at its final stop, the Education Committee, and is awaiting consideration by the full chamber.
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 authorize an early learning coalition to terminate a contract with School Readiness program providers for a Class I Health and Safety Violation. SB 1532 is awaiting action in its last committee of reference, the Appropriations Committee. HB 1175 passed favorably in the full House on February 14th.
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 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on February 12th. HB 305 has been referred to three committees and has yet to be heard in its first committee of reference.
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. 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. HB 1129 was reported favorably by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 13th.
Perinatal Mental Health
SB 138 by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and HB 937 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) create the “Florida Families First Act” and 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. SB 138 is awaiting action in the Appropriations Committee, its final committee of reference. HB 937 was reported favorably by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 13th and will move to its third and final committee stop, the Health and Human Services Committee.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
CS/SB 450 by Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah) and the House companion, HB 1327 by Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg) establish screening requirements for peer specialists working in mental health programs and facilities. The bill requires the Department of Children and Families to develop a training program for peer specialists and give preference to trainers who are certified peer specialists and requires a background screening. CS/SB 450 was reported favorably by its last committee of reference, Appropriations on February 15th. HB 1327 is awaiting action in its first of three committees of reference, the Children, Families, and Seniors Subcommittee.
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 and has not yet been considered. HB 1079 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15th. HB 7065 (formerly PCB CFS1) was also reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee on February 15th. Both house bills are ready for consideration by the full chamber. SB 1360 is awaiting action in the Appropriation Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, its second of three committees of reference.
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 bill requires 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, its second of three committees of reference. SB 1650 was reported favorably by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability on February 13th and is ready to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee, its final committee stop.
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 was reported favorably by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on February 13th, clearing its second committee stop of three. SB 590 is awaiting action in the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, its third of four committees of reference.
SB 1160 by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and the House companion, CS/HB 693 by Rep. Frank White (R-Pensacola) authorize changes to public assistance policy and federal food assistance waivers to conform to federal law & simplify administration. The bills require DCF to impose resource limit for households receiving food assistance, subject to federal approval and requires CareerSource Florida, Inc., to contract with a vendor to develop a pilot program to increase employment for persons receiving temporary cash assistance. SB 1160 has been referred to four committees and has yet to be considered. CS/HB 693 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee on February 14th and moved to its final committee, Health and Human Services.
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 the 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 was reported favorably by the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee on February 12th and moves to its last stop, the Rules Committee.
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 requires the Department of Children and Families to assemble a team of specified experts to determine the safest placement for the child. HB 487 passed favorably in the full House on February 14th. SB 634 has been referred to three committees and is scheduled to be considered in its first committee stop, Children, Families and Elder Affairs on February 20th.
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 favorably in the full House on February 14th. SB 1212 is awaiting action in the Rules Committee, its final committee of reference.
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 provide for separate offenses of transmission of child pornography. HB 7017 passed favorably in the full House on February 14th. SB 1214 is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Committee, its second committee of reference of four.
SB 1650 by Sen. Bill Montford (D-Quincy) and a similar House Companion, HB 1105 prohibit the Department of Children and Families from releasing the names of certain persons who have provided information during a protective investigation except under certain circumstances. The bill also provides for name of child’s guardian ad litem or attorney ad litem to be entered on court orders in dependency proceedings; requires courts to advise parents during adjudicatory hearing of actions required to achieve reunification; requires courts to hold permanency hearings within specified timeframes until permanency is determined; and requires courts to enter written order of disposition of child following termination of parental rights within specified timeframe. SB 1650 was reported favorably by its second committee of reference, Governmental Oversight and Accountability, on February 13th. HB 1105 is awaiting action in the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee, its second of three committees of reference.
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 was not considered by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee on February 12th, but is on the agenda to be considered on February 20th.
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 and SB 392 have been referred to three committees and have yet to be considered. HB 1417 is awaiting action by the full House. SB 392 is awaiting action in the Criminal Justice Committee. SB 1552 was reported favorably by Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice on February 14th and is now in its last committee, Appropriations.
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-OpaLocka) 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 is awaiting action its final committee stop, the Rules Committee. HB 361 was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee, its final committee of reference, on February 15th, and now awaits consideration by the full chamber.
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 the use of seclusion, restraint, and exclusionary and non-exclusionary 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 Health Policy Committee on February 13th and is now awaiting action in the Rules Committee, its final committee stop.
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, subject to appropriations and review for reasonableness. SB 146 was substituted for HB 57 and passed favorably in the full House on February 14th and is waiting to be sent to the Governor for his signature.
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 prohibit the agency from renewing the license of an existing comprehensive transitional education program after December 31, 2020. SB 1788 was reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on February 14th and is now awaiting action in its final committee, Appropriations. HB 1373 was reported favorably by the Health and Human Services Committee, its final committee, on February 15th.
HB 335 by Rep. Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) and the Senate companion, SB 140 by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers) pertain to child marriage laws. The Senate passed its bill with a total ban of marriage for children under the age of 18. The House took up the Senate’s bill and amended it to allow for 16 or 17 year olds to marry under certain circumstances, including a pregnancy, providing that the minor is no greater than two years younger than their partner. SB 140, with amendments from the House, returns to the Senate for consideration.