We are officially in the home stretch of the 2019 Legislative Session. Budget Conference meetings were conducted this week in which the House and Senate compromised to reach agreements on many budgetary line items. All issues not agreed upon by the conference committees have now been “bumped” to the Appropriations Chairs of each committee. Chairs Bradley and Cummings will work to resolve these issues and will then send any unresolved issues to President Galvano and Speaker Oliva. Galvano and Oliva will work to produce a single budget by early next week in order to end session as scheduled on May 3rd.
There are many bills still to be heard in both Chambers and floor sessions have been lasting late into the night this week with meetings ending shortly before midnight. Next week is shaping up to be a busy week as members work to pass the remaining pieces of proposed legislation.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley and House Appropriations Chairman Travis Cummings announce the start of Budget Conference on Tuesday, April 23 – Photo: Florida Senate
Thesesimilarbills establish standards for instruction of circuit and county court judges who have responsibility for dependency cases regarding the recognition and treatment of head trauma and brain injury in a child from birth to five years of age. The bills additionally require the establishment of a communication process between DCF and law enforcement and creates a pilot for three lead agencies to develop and implement a program to more effectively provide case management to children under six years of age. These bills are known as “Jordan’s Law” and aims to prevent tragedies like Jordan Belliveau’s death.
SB 124 was presented to the Governor this week for approval. Previously, HB 115 was laid on the table and the House passed its identical companion. SB 124. This bill authorizes the court to receive & consider information provided by the Guardian ad Litem Program & child’s attorney ad litem if the child is under jurisdiction of dependency court, add requirements related to transferring dependent children from DJJ facilities & grant additional authorizations to the GAL Program. The Governor has until April 29th to act on the bill.
These similarbills aim to speed up the dependency process for children removed from their home to achieve permanency within 1 year. Permanency can be reunification with parents, placement with a permanent guardian, often a relative, or adoption. The bills make changes such as requiring updated parent contact information, making referrals to services for parents within 7 days, requiring parents to notify the court of any barriers to completing their case plan, and to clearly inform parents that if they do.
These similar bills come from recommendations of DCF staff as part of the Paths Forward Initiative to mitigate the loss of the IV-E waiver and to prepare for the implementation of the Families First Act. It includes new requirements for DCF placing a child in shelter care, changes to the Guardian Assistance Program and requirements for young adults in foster care.
These comparable bills contain provisions pertaining to child welfare. The House bill amends current law related to the dependency system to require that evidence that conditions for return have been met or that a parent substantially complied with a case plan and is likely to complete it in a reasonable time before reunification may occur. The bill also requires planning for and monitoring or communication between foster and biological parents to encourage effective communication. The Senate bill has not been considered in any committee, it is possible that the House language can be amended on to another bill.
These comparable bills create a bill of rights for foster parents and requires the Department of Children and Families to provide for mediation with foster parents and adopt rules to implement the bill of rights. The Senate bill will be considered by the full Senate on Monday, the House bill passed out of the House last week. The two bills are still different and legislators needs to reconcile the two bills to get an identical product.
These bills are no longer similar. SB 94 requires that after January 1, 2020, vehicles used by child care facilities to transport children must be equipped with an approved alarm system that prompts the driver to inspect the vehicle for the presence of children. HB 69 requires DCF to adopt minimum safety standards regarding procedures to avoid inadvertently leaving a child in a vehicle used by a child care facility, including alarm systems, but does not make these alarm systems a requirement.
Thesesimilar bills rename Competency-Based Education Pilot Program as the Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program and allow local school districts to participate in an Alternative Credit and Letter Grade Systems for middle and high schools.
These bills are no longer identical as HB 259 has been amended to remove the provisions related to the Human Trafficking Activity Hotline and human trafficking awareness campaigns. SB 982 has not been amended and both bills still require health education in public schools to include information on the warning signs of human trafficking and authorize a student opt-out option.
These similarbills require all instructional materials for school civics education courses be reviewed by the Joint Center for Citizenship and approved by the Commissioner of Education. HB 807 has been amended to provide that the house a student devotes to certain approved programs shall count towards the service work requirement for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
This omnibus public safety overhaul bill contains many provisions that reform the criminal justice system. Of note, in juvenile justice, the bill makes previously mandatory drivers license suspensions for juveniles up to the discretion of prosecutors, it modifies the youthful offender provisions to make eligibility based on age at the time of the offense rather than at the time of sentencing, and it changes required direct filings to the adult system to also be discretionary. This bill encompasses the substance of many individual bills, a Senate companion has not been filed at this point, however there are many public safety bills moving through the process that can become vehicles.
The bill revises provisions relating to the Immunization Registry by requiring health care practitioners to report vaccination data to the immunization registry for children birth to 18 unless a guardian refused to have the child included in the registry by meeting certain requirements. The Senate adopted an amendment requiring that consent to treatment forms contain a notice stating that parents/guardians may refuse to have their child included in the registry.
These bills are considered comparable. The Senate bill contains provisions solely focusing on increasing the age of tobacco products. The House bill however, contains this provision and other provisions pertaining to the use of regulated substances including smokable marijuana.
Build upon the school safety and security foundation established in SB 7026 (2018) by addressing the school safety and security recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, and strengthening accountability and compliance oversight authority. This bill contains provisions which modify the guardian program, increase mental health funding and provide greater accountability for school safety. Speaker Oliva has indicated that he likes where SB 7030 is and anticipates the House will take that bill up with limited or no modifications.