Legislative Connection

Children’s Bills Positioned to Reach Finish Line

The budget bills of the two chambers are on their way to conference committee to iron out the differences, expected to start mid-week.  This signals that legislative session is coming to a close, for all practical purposes most of a year in length due to many factors.  We will know soon how children fare in final appropriations as the House and Senate reconcile their now 750-million dollar gap regarding the governor’s tax cut proposal.  That’s a tall order.  Some services will survive and some will not.  Children’s policy bills continue to move along on their own path, the finish line...

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Up, Down, Up – Mid-Session In-Depth

Will Remainder Be Good for Kids? Up.  Down.  Up.  These three words accurately portray the mood of the 2016 legislative session to date. The first “up” was the pre-session forecast that as much as  $1.5 billion in additional general revenue would be available.  Child advocates had hoped funds would be earmarked for the growing and unmet needs of Florida children, as well as to restore cuts dating back to the recession.  No one was giddy about the possibilities.  Florida isn’t the easiest place to secure funding for children’s services.  But hope reigns eternal. There’s talk among program administrators at high levels...

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Good Children’s Bills Move Forward

This week marks the mid-way point of this year’s Session. Attention has shifted to appropriations with each chamber putting their spending plans on the table for all to see. Decisions and priorities are being driven by the push from the Governor’s office to achieve a billion-dollar tax cut and a redo of the revenue forecast. More coverage will be forthcoming. On the policy side, many good children’s bills continue to move forward: expunction of juvenile records, A Child’s Best Hope Act, expanding Early Steps, and KidCare for children of legally residing immigrants.   Bills that have lagged behind in getting...

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Significant Advances for Children in the Capitol

The third week of regular session – Children’s Week – realized advancements in children’s policy across a range of our priority issues.  Good bills are moving swiftly through the process, bad amendments were removed, legislators have abandoned long-held positions that will improve the lives of legal immigrant children without health care, and Florida’s child care regulatory framework is aligning with federal standards in order for the state to continue to receive much-needed federal dollars. Recent Legislative Action: SB 386 – Juvenile Records Expunction – a bill first envisioned and promoted by The Children’s Campaign – would automatically remove certain juvenile...

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Key Bills Impacting Children

Welcome to The Children’s Campaign’s new streamlined Legislative Connection. Below you will find highlights of the latest actions on targeted bills and information on where these bills are headed this week, as available. Action this week: SB 386 – Expunction of Juvenile Records was read a second time and placed on the calendar for third reading. The bill will be heard on January 28th. Contact your Senator and ask them to vote in support of this bill that keeps youthful mistakes from damaging a child’s future. A bill that removes the ability to charge a child under 18 with prostitution,...

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Start of 2016 Session

Forecast for Florida’s Children in the 2016 Legislative Session The year 2016 rang in with the start of regular Session, three months earlier due to this being an election year.  Children’s issues are off to a faster start than most advocates had expected amongst concerns about a hangover of contention from the previous year. In a surprising and celebrated move, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R- Merritt Island) joined a bi-partisan effort to support removing a five-year waiting period and extending KidCare to children of legally-residing immigrants. The move comes after a five-year push from legislators, especially champion Senator Garcia (R-Hialeah)....

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Tallahassee Town Hall Draws a Crowd

On December 9, 100+ citizens and advocates crowded into St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Tallahassee to discuss children’s issues spanning the Journey to Justice and Journey to Great Beginnings platforms of The Children’s Campaign. The event was hosted by The Children’s Campaign and co-sponsored by the Washington D.C. – based Every Child Matters and the law firm of Holland & Knight. Roy Miller moderated the panel discussion which included Alan Abramowitz (Guardian ad Litem), Dewey Caruthers (dewey & associates), Cathy Craig-Myers (Florida Juvenile Justice Association), Kurt Kelly (Florida Coalition for Children), Dr. Norin Dollard (Florida Kids Count, USF Department of...

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Get it Right — We’re Watching

More eyes will be on the Department of Health’s (DOH) handling and performance with Early Steps if the Florida Senate gets its way.  The Senate is responding to outcries from parents and the advocacy community – including The Children’s Campaign – who brought the crisis forward and questioned DOH’s commitment to the program over a several year period. Research shows that early intervention is crucial for children with developmental concerns. Prior to funding cuts in recent years, Florida’s Early Steps program served children at-risk of developmental delays to help provide necessary services when they would make the largest impact. Today, the...

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Youthful Misdeeds Continue to Impact Adulthood – Even in the Senate

The importance of legislation that expunges juvenile records at an earlier age was illustrated with a lighthearted political hazing when SB 386 was heard in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Representative Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) presented the bill that would expunge selected juvenile criminal records automatically when young adults reach the age of 21, an important contrast to the current practice of doing so at age 24. Speaking on behalf of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Nancy Detert (R-Sarasota), Latvala explained that “kids do foolish things” and that minor offenses shouldn’t be allowed to ruin their futures. After being grilled by the...

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“System Failure” Present in Two Tragic Child Deaths

Standing before the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee, Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll answered pointed questions about the two most recent tragic child deaths that have rocked the state. Janiya, an eleven-year-old Manatee county girl who appears to have suffered a lifetime of abuse, was found in a freezer following the arrest of her mother for failing to disclose her whereabouts. The last time Janiya was seen was in June of 2014, but she was not found until October of this year. Recently released reports indicate that her mother was investigated by DCF more than...

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