Welcome to our first Legislative Connection – Bill Update edition of the 2018 Legislative Session. These editions focus on the movement of selected legislation pertaining to children, providing up-to-date information about bills that were heard and/or calendared. Other bills heard during the week and/or filed but not scheduled can be viewed in our online Legislative Center separated by issue area; and find our quality analysis of The Children’s Campaign’s priority legislation on our Key Issue pages.
Week of 1/15 Bills:
Committee Bill PCB CRJ 18-03 was presented by Chair Spano (R-Riverview) in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and passed unanimously. The bill continues Florida’s commitment to leading the nation in addressing human trafficking by strengthening the punishment for trafficking offenders. The bill provides mandatory minimum sentencing of 10 years for anyone convicted of trafficking minors under the age of 18 or transporting them to be trafficked, and for anyone engaged in commercial sexual activity with a child under the age of 18. This bill also makes strides to assist victims of human trafficking by prohibiting fees or costs for victims seeking expungement of a criminal record committed while a victim of human trafficking. During debate, Rep. Harrell (R-Stuart) noted that the bill is the next step and makes it clear that human trafficking will not be tolerated in the state of Florida. The bill has been filed as HB 7039. Similar bill, SB 1502 by Senator Book (D-Plantation), has been referred to its committees.
SB 936 by Senator Powell (D-West Palm Beach) was temporarily postponed in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee after four amendments were filed by the sponsor. The amendments included two technical amendments, the removal of the provision that would exempt a child tried as an adult from suspension of civil rights and an increase in the age required for every reasonable effort be made to separate minors from adult offenders from 14-17 to 16 and 17. The bill, which eliminates mandatory direct file and changes discretionary prosecution of children as adults, has been rescheduled to be heard on 1/22 at 3:30pm. Similar bill HB 509 by Representative Shaw (D-Tampa) has been referenced to its committees.
In the same committee, SB 1004, a bill filed in response to the Miami Herald “Fight Club” exposé, passed unanimously. Bill sponsor Senator Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) presented the bill and amendment that would allow policy makers and high-ranking government officials access to state and county run juvenile justice residential facilities during the day and require the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to adopt rules regarding visits outside of the specified times. The bill’s next and final committee stop is Rules. HB 361 by Representative Richardson (D-Miami Beach), the House companion, is awaiting scheduling in its first committee of reference.
SB 108 sponsored by Senator Campbell (D-Miami), creates the Kidcare Operational Efficiency and Health Care Improvement Workgroup, and unanimously passed the Senate Governmental Oversight Committee. This bill takes steps towards providing a more effective array of services to Florida’s low-income children and access high quality coverage by creating a workgroup that will maximize the return on investment for the state, and streamline and enhance the program’s operation. The bill is now in Rules awaiting scheduling for its last committee stop. House companion, HB 293 by Representative Duran (D-Miami) is also in its final committee, Health & Human Services.
Both bills that would include incarcerated parents in the process of developing case plans for children in the child welfare system passed their committees unanimously, and are moving on to their next committee of reference. These bills will increase the number of dependent children who may maintain contact with their parent or stay with their family when it is the most suitable option. HB 281 by Rep. Williams (D-Fort Lauderdale) is placed on the calendar on 2nd reading and SB 522 by Senator Bean (R-Jacksonville) is in Rules.
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This Legislative Connection is brought to you by Amanda Ostrander, Sabrina Abboud, Courtney Reed, Karen Bonsignori, Roy Miller and Tiffany McGlinchey.