Legislative Update – January 24, 2020

Governor DeSantis Announces New Standards to Replace Common Core

Today, I joined Governor Ron DeSantis in Naples, where he announced completion of a new set of Florida education standards, which will be published next week.

The Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking  (BEST) will replace Common Core standards.  The changes include requirements for students to learn cursive, study the Constitution in grade school and meet several measures in literacy based on grade level.

“It really goes beyond Common Core to embrace common sense,” Governor DeSantis said.

Tourism Day at the Capitol

Wednesday, January 22, was Florida Tourism Day at the Capitol.  I was pleased to join with Lieutenant Governor Janet Nunez, President-Designate Wilton Simpson, Visit Florida CEO Dana Young, Representative Mel Ponder and 500 business leaders from across the state to rally in support of the tourism industry and the continuing authorization of Visit Florida.

More than 126 million visitors come to the Sunshine State every year, and they have an incredible impact on our economy, supporting big and small businesses throughout Florida.

Clean Waterways Act Passes Second Committee

Senate Bill 712: Water Quality Improvements by Senator Mayfield is a comprehensive environmental policy bill that addresses numerous environmental preservation efforts.

If passed, this bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Health (DOH) to submit a report to the Legislature detailing the impacts of a type two transfer of DOH’s onsite sewage program to DEP.  SB 712 would require local governments with impaired water bodies or springs to adopt, implement and enforce Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Ordinances, while also educating and informing residents.

Through this bill, a wastewater grant program would be established within DEP for septic system retrofits, nutrient-reducing septic systems, septic to sewer hookups and advanced waste treatment.

If passed, Senate Bill 712 would also move oversight of septic tanks from the state DOH to the DEP and would direct DEP to adopt rules for septic tanks locations.

Department of Children and Families (DCF) Accountability Act Passes Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee

Senate Bill 1326 by President-Designate Simpson would make a number of changes to child welfare and behavioral health programs administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to improve performance and funding.

SB 1326 creates an Office of Quality Assurance and Improvement within the Department to measure and monitor program performance.   The bill would revise the current child welfare and behavioral health accountability and reporting requirements.

The program would provide a letter grade to contracted entities based on whether they meet performance standards. Contracted entities that receive poor grades will be offered technical assistance for improvement.  DCF would be able to terminate those low performing contracted entities if no improvements are made.

Senate Bill 1326 would also allow the department to investigate certain child abuse reports within 24 hours as opposed to the current requirement of 72 hours based on certain safety factors and would create a new funding formula for community-based care lead agencies.

Parental Consent Bill Heads to Senate Floor

Senate Bill 404 by Senator Kelli Stargel passed the Senate Committee on Rules on Wednesday.

This legislation would require a parent or guardian to give consent before a physician can terminate a pregnancy of a minor, with the exception of medical emergencies.

SB 404 would allow a minor to petition any circuit court in the area where she resides for a waiver of consent in order to obtain an abortion.  This process would be confidential.

This legislation also would increase the penalty from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony if a health care practitioner fails to provide an infant born alive after an attempted abortion with the same quality and level or care as any other newborn.

This bill aims to strengthen family units and ensure parental or guardian involvement and guidance in major decisions of their minor daughter during unplanned pregnancies.

Senate Bill 406, accompanying legislation that exempts the name of minors using the court waiver process from being disclosed in public records, also passed the Committee on Rules.

Legislation to Provide Girls and Young Women A Better Future

Senate Bill 1056 by President-Designate Simpson passed unanimously in the Appropriations Committee on Thursday.  The bill would authorize the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to contract with PACE Center for Girls, to provide services including, but not limited to, education, counseling, training and advocacy as an alternative to the commitment and institutionalization of girls and young women.

The PACE Center for Girls (PACE) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy.

PACE has 21 centers in Florida, which serve over 3,000 girls and young women per year.  PACE is recognized as a national model for reducing recidivism and improving school success, employment and self-sufficiency among girls by multiple agencies, including the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and delinquency Prevention.

Occupational Licensing Reform Bill Passes Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee

On Tuesday, the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee approved Senate Bill 474 by Senator Albritton.

SB 474 would make a number of changes to state occupational license and fee requirements for the purpose of helping create alternative pathways to traditional education.

Governor DeSantis mentioned this initiative as one of his legislative priorities in his State of the State address on the first day of the legislative session.

This proposal is one that has been brought up for several years, and the sponsor has been working with various groups in hopes of addressing their concerns to get this reform passed.

Health Policy Committee Passes Bill to Direct Cigarette Tax Revenue to Cancer Research

Senate Bill 494 would increase the percentage of the state’s cigarette tax revenue that is directed each month to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.  The bill would increase the percentage from 4.04 percent to 7 percent, beginning on July 1 and again to 10 percent beginning in 2023.

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center (Moffitt) was established by the Legislature in 1981.  Moffitt began its research on cancer in 1993 and became a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center in 1998.

Currently, Moffitt is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida.

Florida Senate Passes Measure Urging Congress to Improve Veteran Health Care Access

The Florida Senate unanimously voted to send Senate Memorial 420: VA MISSION Act of 2018, by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., to the United States Congress.  This memorial urges Congress and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure the implementation of the VA MISSION Act of 2018.

The purpose of the VA MISSION Act of 2018 is to overhaul existing law on veteran health care to improve access to care for veterans, consolidate many community care programs and expand eligibility for comprehensive assistance for family caregivers of veterans.

This memorial sends a message to Congress that Florida is committed to supporting and protecting the more than 1.5 million veterans living in Florida.

SB 290 Strengthens Safety for Students on School Buses

Senate Bill 290 passed in the Infrastructure and Security Committee on Tuesday.  This bill would increase the minimum civil penalty for failure to stop for a school bus.

For a subsequent offense within five years, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) would suspend the driver’s license of the driver for no less than 180 days and no more than one year. The current suspension is a minimum of 90 days to a maximum of six months.

Senate Bill 290 would also raise the minimum civil penalty for passing a school bus on the side that children enter and exit, from $200 to $400.

Senate Education Committee Passes Committee Bill to Implement Proposed Recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission

Senate Bill 7040 would provide additional safeguards for Florida’s students and schools.  The bill builds upon the school safety and security foundation established in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act and the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

The bill would require:

·        Each district school board to adopt a school district emergency event family reunification plan to reunite students and employees with their families in the event of an emergency;

·        Comprehensive participation from all members of a school threat assessment team;

·        Direct involvement of law enforcement officers in response to the school in the event of an emergency to be on campus and to perform the execution of emergency drills; and

·        Alignment of school-based diversion programs with local judicial circuit diversion programs.

Senate Bill 7040 would enhance the safe school officer position and the role of the county sheriff by:

·        Requiring school safety officers to complete mental health crisis intervention training; and

·        Making the sheriff responsible for the provision of Feis guardian training and clarifying the training requirements applicable to such training.

SB 7040 would also strengthen school mental health coordination and implementation and require:

·        A workgroup to provide guidance on the implementation of mental health-related recommendations of the commission;

·        Reporting requirements for mental health assistance allocation; and

·        Individualized Education Plans to include additional provisions related to post-high school transition.

Senate Bill 918 to Promote Civics Education Passes Education Committee

Senate Bill 918 by Senator Brandes would authorize the development and integration of a nonpartisan civic literacy practicum and create designations of public schools providing high-quality civic learning as a Freedom School.

Senate Bill 918 would require the Commissioner of Education to develop minimum criteria for a nonpartisan civic literacy practicum that may be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for a high school United States government course.

The bill would also require the Commissioner of Education to develop a process for district school boards to verify student completion of the practicum.

Appropriations Committee Reviews Governor’s Budget

The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Rob Bradley, received a presentation on Governor Ron DeSantis’ Budget Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2020-2021.

The Governor’s $91.4 billion budget proposal includes significant funding for priority areas of: education, hurricane recovery, tax relief for Floridians, Everglades restoration, protection for valuable water resources, health and human services, transportation and elections security.

Currently, the Florida Senate is putting together budget recommendations and will consider the recommendations presented during this committee by the Governor’s budget chief. The Senate will work with the House of Representatives and Governor DeSantis to pass a balanced budget that best serves the citizens of Florida.

Bill to Provide Insurance Coverage for Children in Need of Hearing Aids Advances

Senate Bill 1006: Coverage for Hearing Aids for Children by Senator Dennis Baxley unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance, chaired by Senator Doug Broxson.

This legislation requires individual health insurance plans to provide coverage for hearing aids for children and young adults ages 21 and younger.

SB 1006 requires policies to provide a minimum coverage limit of $3,500 per ear within a 24-month period.  It is estimated that approximately 1,700 children who have been diagnosed with hearing loss will benefit from this legislation.

Committee Approves Bill to Help Save Lives of Police Canines

The Senate Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Senator Gayle Harrell, unanimously approved Senate Bill 842: Injured Police Canines by Senator Tom Wright.

This bill allows for a canine injured in the line of duty to be transported in an emergency vehicle to a veterinary clinic or hospital if no person requires medical attention or transport when the canine needs it.  SB 842 also authorizes Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics to provide emergency medical care to the injured police canine at the scene of the emergency or while being transported.

Legislation Increasing Penalties for Crimes Against Firefighters Passes Committee

Senate Bill 1142: Offenses Against Firefighters by Senator Ed Hooper unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, chaired by Senator Keith Perry.

This legislation increases the penalty for an individual, who commits first, second, or third degree murder or attempted murder against a firefighter, to life imprisonment without eligibility for release.  Similar penalties are currently in place for murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and other specified officers.

Florida’s firefighters put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities, and the Florida Senate is proud to support legislation in order to protect them.

Welcome to the Florida Senate

The Florida Senate welcomed the following groups to the Capitol:

·        Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

·        Brevard County

·        Citrus County Chamber of Commerce

·        Florida Cattlemen’s Association

·        Florida Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses

·        Florida Conference of Black State Legislators

·        Florida Occupational Therapy Association

·        Florida Trucking Association

·        Florida Women’s Political Network

·        Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando

·        Junior League of Florida

·        Marion County

·        Space Florida (Florida Space Day)

·        Step Up For Students

·        University of West Florida

·        Visit Florida (Tourism Day)

Thank you to Stephanie Lucarelli of the Collier County School Board Member for stopping by the office this week.

It was great to meet with Clint Raulerson, who was in Tallahassee for Florida Cattleman’s Day at the Capitol.

It was wonderful to see so many members of the Southwest Florida Food and Restaurant Association. Many members traveled to Tallahassee this week for Florida Tourism Days at the Capitol.

It was a pleasure to meet with the staff of the Glades Electric Cooperative.  Their organization provides power to parts of Hendry County.

I was glad to have the chance to visit with members of the Lee County School Board.

What a wonderful opportunity it was to meet with so many pharmacy students. These students traveled to the Capitol this week to speak with legislators.

I received a visit from Patti Spears, who is the Administrator at Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation Center in LaBelle.

Thank you to the members of the Associated Builders & Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter for sitting down with me this week.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.

Kathleen C. Passidomo

Senate Majority Leader
State Senator, District 28

Naples Office:

3299 East Tamiami Trail
Suite 203
Naples, FL 34112

LaBelle Office:

25 East Hickpochee Avenue
Room J-126
LaBelle, FL 33935

Tallahassee Office:

330 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, FL 32339

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *