Legislative Connection

Another Good Week for Children at the Capitol

If Dr. Seuss had written about Florida’s last committee week of 2017 in his classic grinchy tale, it probably would’ve sounded much like this: Bills for relative caregivers, Early Steps and parents in jail, trafficking, pay raises, civil citations and GAL, all passed their committees, and then legislators with haste, completed their work before session, with no time to waste. In other words, the final committee week was a relatively speedy and good week for policies benefiting Florida’s children. Bills to Help Abused and Neglected Children Pass Unanimously Policy makers heard multiple bills and presentations to improve outcomes for children...

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Milestones Reached Despite Tension

Tallahassee, similar to the rest of the country, is mired in a fog of sexual harassment allegations involving high-ranking members of both political parties. Combining this fallout with allegations of surveillance on Florida policy makers plus the start of political ads for the 2019 election cycle ratchets up the already tense environment at the capitol. Regardless, the work of the state continues. Following last week’s meetings, one committee week remains before the start of the 2018 Legislative Session in January. Milestones were reached as the Governor released his budget recommendations, bills passed second committee stops and presentations were heard on...

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Small Gains for Big Issues Affecting Children

Florida’s Children Feel Impact of Opioid Crisis The opioid crisis is having significant impact on healthy births and the state’s child welfare system. In a presentation to the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee, JoShanda Guerrier, Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare at the Department of Children and Families, shared that Florida has seen a 39% increase in the removal of children under five due to substance abuse by the parents in the past five years. Almost 70% of the babies removed within 30 days of birth were due to substance abuse. The children that enter the system due to parental...

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Media Coverage, Policy and Kids Issues Intersect

Many issues that impact children and families were featured presentations at legislative committee hearings in Tallahassee last week – banning child marriage, abuse in juvenile justice facilities, child welfare workforce turnover, dental care for children in low-income families and KidCare disenrollments. All have at least two things in common: (1) the positive impact that good policy could make on the lives of Florida children and their families, and (2) media coverage by dedicated journalists, often inspired by victims, advocates and their work that brought them to public attention. “Fight Club” Investigation Response Brings Focus to DJJ Success In response to...

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A Hurricane of Issues Already Brewing

Florida legislators convened for the first time before the early start of the 2018 session in January. This committee week was originally scheduled for September 12, but was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. The delay resulted in an action-packed week filled with discussions about fallout from the massive storm including its impact on budget and tragic nursing home deaths, the opioid crisis, school privatization, the abuse of children in the juvenile justice system and children’s health insurance. Human Trafficking Continues to be a Topic for Policy Makers SB 96 by Senator Stuebe (R-Sarasota) unanimously passed the Children, Families & Elder...

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Legislative Connection – Bill Update Edition – April 24-28

Policy bills took a backseat last week to intensive budget negotiations, which remained in full swing through much of the weekend. Both House and Senate Budget Committees completed their work this past Saturday, with unresolved issues passed to the Appropriations Chairs. The finalized budget is scheduled to be printed Monday setting up an on-time legislative exit. A budget update edition of Legislative Connection will publish later in the week. In the meantime, here’s a summary of key bills that were heard and passed: Bill Updates HB 693 – A Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) was presented by Representative Alexander (D-Tallahassee). This...

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Legislative Connection – Bill Update Edition – April 17-21

The next two weeks of session are the most intense. The finish line comes clearly into sight and the pace quickens. Bills moving through the process either make it or break it. Language in those not moving with savvy sponsors behind them can end up on any number of related subject bills. Good bills we have supported can move into the “no” column if the wrong language shows up. Likewise, “no” can move to “yes” with the right amendments. The Children’s Campaign team, always vigilant, logs even more hours with less rest. We will keep you posted and here’s a...

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Legislative Connection – April 12-13

Legislators only met for two days last week due to the religious holidays. This is a brief release on the work that was completed on Wednesday and Thursday. Budget Update: Low Income Pool (LIP) federal funds totaling $900 million more than last year may help state legislators bridge the budget divide between the Chambers and complete a budget that is still billions apart. LIP provides vital funds to hospitals to help care for poor and uninsured patients. The Senate voted unanimously to support their budget proposal, but used last year’s funding for LIP. The overall Senate budget plan amounts to...

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Chamber Differences Magnified by Budget Process

The House (PCB APC 17-01) and Senate (SPB 2500) Appropriations committees have approved their budget proposals with several billion (that’s a B not an M) differences. It has been a long time since those who walk the halls of the capitol have seen such a wide gap at this point in the process ($81.2 billion proposed in the House and $83.2-billion in the Senate with upwards of a more than $2 billion separation over financing for higher education). Other hot buttons include the Governor’s business recruitment strategies, reducing property taxes that are especially being opposed by cities and counties, hospital...

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Legislative Connection – Bill Update Edition – March 27-31 

Before providing our weekly update of legislation moving along, it’s important to recognize Carol Jenkins Barnett, honored at the Children’s Week banquet with the Chiles Advocacy Award for her 30+ years of charitable leadership. The award, named after former Governor Lawton Chiles, and first lady Rhea Chiles, is presented annually to a Floridian who exemplifies integrity, passion and dedication to engaging others in promoting policies and programs benefitting children. Barnett has served on numerous boards of nonprofits across Florida and has steered hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits supporting child well-being. Bill Updates: HB 233 – Students with Disabilities...

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