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Legislative Connection – Bill Update Edition – March 20-24

Welcome to The Children’s Campaign’s Legislative Connection – Bill Update edition. These editions focus on the movement of legislation pertaining to children and provide information about bills heard and/or scheduled to keep you up-to-date or allow you to take action. To track our priority legislation in real-time, please visit our Legislative Center. Bill Updates: SB 60 has made it through its path in the Senate without ever receiving a negative vote. The bill by Senator Bean (R- Jacksonville) makes the Keys to Independence program permanent, providing children in the foster care system with the access and means to obtain their...

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Legislative Connection – Bill Update Edition

The Children’s Campaign is pleased to provide you with the first Legislative Connection – Bill Update edition of the 2017 session. These editions focus on the movement of legislation pertaining to children, providing you with information about bills that were heard and/or scheduled to keep you up-to-date or so you can take action. If you would like to track our priority legislation in real-time, visit our Legislative Center. Bill Updates: HB 581 and SB 1016 According to House staff analysis, 229,311 food stamp (SNAP) recipients in Florida will lose eligibility based on the income and asset limit changes. Children would...

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Unusual Session Begins

If it weren’t for the unusual opening day speeches by Florida’s top leaders, it would have been easy to become distracted from the official start of legislative session to watch a viral live feed of a pregnant giraffe, the fearless girl statue challenging the Wall Street bull or Wolverine’s return to the movie theatre. But, alas, there was enough theatrics in Tallahassee to make the unusual interesting. In his State of the State address, Governor Rick Scott, when not feuding with House Speaker Corcoran over Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, promised to “wake up every day fighting for Florida because...

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Budget Talks Continue as Governor Weighs In

While media articles scream about the deepening rift between the House Speaker and Governor the past two weeks, mostly over business incentives and tourism marketing, committees heard presentations on the Governor’s $83.5 billion “Fighting for Florida’s Future Budget,” a $1.5 billion increase over the previous year. Senate and House leaders however, have outlined a different approach, based on Legislative Budget Commission projections suggesting the state will experience a $1.3 billion shortfall in the next two years at a time when the overall health of the economy continues to improve. Governor Scott’s plan includes: tax cuts for businesses and additional investment in...

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Facebook Live Suicide: Questions that Need Answering

In the wake of a 14-year old Miami-Dade foster child streaming her suicide live on the Internet, there’s been an outpouring of attention and outrage over the technology and lack of safeguards that allow such videos to be produced and shared online so easily. Although some of that outrage is fair, the problem isn’t solely the technology that enables such horrific acts to be aired. Equal attention should be paid to the ability for children and their caregivers to access appropriate crisis and specialized, ongoing mental health services ̶ especially children under supervision of Florida’s child welfare system. Allegations of...

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Money and Children’s Issues Collide at the Capitol

The Governor this week released his proposed 2017 state budget at a time when his executive agency staff were presenting a spending reduction plan at the request of House leaders. The mini-drama highlighted the deep divide over philosophy and priorities between the two branches of government, which exists at this point in the process. The conflict has spilled its way onto the pages of most traditional and some social media. Caught in the middle are children’s programs and services. Largely missing from either branch in its preparation or budget exercise was a well-formulated expression of the IMMEDIATE and ACTUAL unmet...

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New Year Brings New Promising Practices for Serving Trafficked and Exploited Children

The year 2017 looks to be much brighter for some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens with the expected launch of Open Doors, a new, promising coordinated system for serving trafficked and exploited children and young adults, mostly ages 10 – 24. This new model will bring an array of promising practices to Florida that have improved service delivery and outcomes for victims in other states. Five Florida regions are targeted to pilot Open Doors due to the high rate of sexual exploitation and trafficking in those areas and the lack of available services: Northeast Florida: Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker...

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Good Start for Children’s Policy in 2017

While some observers have said in the news it’s been a slow start to legislative session, several issues important to The Children’s Campaign have already been filed this year, including civil citation, children prosecuted as adults, expanding eligibility for juvenile records expunction and Keys to Independence (opportunity to take action later in this publication). In addition, issues that ultimately affect children and families such as the budget, and the impact of Medicaid and Managed Medical Assistance Program are being dissected. While much activity is occurring, the first committee week of the new year was slow for actual meetings. In fact,...

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Debtors’ Prisons for Kids?

Most people think debtors’ prisons are a thing of the past. But are they really? A recent national report by the Juvenile Law Center from Philadelphia shows juvenile court costs, attorney’s fees and fines that are assessed as youth move through the juvenile justice system ̶ and sometimes even in community diversion programs ̶ cause significant hardships for youth and their families. The costs for court related services, including probation, a “free appointed attorney,” mental health evaluations, the costs of incarceration, treatment and restitution payments can push children deeper into the juvenile justice system and families deeper into debt. Across...

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So Far, House and Senate Leadership Appear Far Apart in Session Priorities

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, new leadership took the helm of the Florida Legislature. Juvenile justice is a top priority of Senate President Joe Negron, specifically not criminalizing adolescents for youthful mischief. This could portend more rigorous reviews of civil citation laws in an effort to increase utilization rates. Statewide, the numbers remain below 50% but the differential is great – in some areas they approach 90%. In other areas, they lag in the 20’s and 30’s or are barely used at all. Not yet mentioned specifically (but important for the continued reform of juvenile justice) are services to children...

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