Capitol Report2021-02-17T02:06:29-05:00

Capitol Report: Good and Not-So-Good Child Welfare Discussions in Tallahassee

Legislative session passed the halfway mark at the end of last week. By this weekend it will be 60% complete. Bills that are moving are known, as well as bills that are stuck, waiting for work to be done over the summer in anticipation of an early start to the 2022 convening. Themes announced by the Governor, Senate President and House Speaker in the weeks preceding session and on opening day are playing out. Many remain in the ideologically and citizen divisive post national election drama. In addition to the policy-oriented legislation in play, more attention is now directed to the state budget. While preliminary budgets have passed both chambers, parts will ...Read More

By |April 6, 2021|Breaking News, Capitol Report|

Capitol Report: Child Welfare Continues to Dominate Committee Action

Debate over Federal Covid Dollars Waits in the Shadows Thinking back to the start of legislative session, advocates were alerted that Florida’s child welfare system would become a key topic of conversation. Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) made a point of it again in his session opening remarks as he has done with every major address to his assembly dating back months. House Speaker Sprowls signaled that the two leaders were in discussion with mention of foster care in his remarks as well. Governor DeSantis appears to be comfortable on the sidelines of child welfare policy, choosing instead to focus on issues emanating from the drama of 2020: anti-protest legislation; mail-in ...Read More

By |March 19, 2021|Breaking News, Capitol Report|

Capitol Report: Attention to Children’s Policy Issues Remains Questionable

Legislative session begins today and will run for 60 days. Access to the capitol remains restricted. Unless testimony in person is specifically approved by the committee, the convention center nearby provides a meeting place for lobbyists and advocates who desire to watch the committee hearings and to testify via video feed. For grassroots advocates who in the past were able to walk the halls and buttonhole policymakers, their opportunities to be heard appear to be more limited.   Budget Presentations Dominated Committee Weeks Questions remain regarding the level of attention that will be paid to children’s policy concerns. Five committee weeks spanning January and February were long on budget presentations by executive ...Read More

By |March 5, 2021|Breaking News, Capitol Report|

Capitol Report: No Shortage of Conversations in Tallahassee About Children

In a welcome contrast to what appears to be widespread practice in Florida, the Legislative Committee meetings in Tallahassee took place the past two weeks with masks being worn throughout the capitol and in committee rooms. Access to elected officials was severely restricted. And an ancillary facility with social distancing was identified for citizens and advocates to monitor developments and to speak to committees by video. What wasn’t a contrast to previous years was the renewal of the annual debate about the status, quality and condition of child welfare services throughout Florida.   While other children’s issues were addressed in other committees – with passage of a juvenile expunction bill and raising the ...Read More

By |January 28, 2021|Breaking News, Capitol Report|

Capitol Report: Budget Woes- No Good Reason to Rush

In Tallahassee and beyond, a behind-the-scenes debate about Florida’s proposed budget is simmering.  The #1 topic heating up phone lines, emails and texts are options to address an expected downturn in general revenue. November Special Session Possible Currently, the prevailing sentiment is to wait until November for a special session of the Legislature. By then, its proponents suggest, more will be known about the duration of the stay-at-home order, and, ultimately, its impact on collections. The elections also will have taken place, resulting in less pressure to appeal ideologically to anyone’s perceived base and, therefore, more reliance on facts. This timing is being tested, however, with the release this week of new ...Read More

By |April 16, 2020|Breaking News, Capitol Report|

Capitol Report: Substantive Children’s Bills Go To Governor

The end of session was shadowed by the looming fear of COVID-19’s impact on the health and the financial stability of a state that relies mostly on sales tax revenue. In one of the quietest 60 days on record, fewer substantive bills passed both chambers than in previous years. This was followed by a designated day to vote on the budget that swiftly passed. Adjournment carried none of the normal pomp and circumstance.  2020 Legislation by the Numbers  In total 3,517 substantive, appropriations, concurrent resolutions, local resolutions and memorial bills were filed. Five percent (191) passed by both the Senate and House were substantive, meaning they would change in some way the ...Read More

By |March 25, 2020|Breaking News, Capitol Report|