SPAC Week 4 & 5

Update from Tallahassee: Redistricting and Budget take shape at mid-point of Session

While the world watches athletes from nations around the globe compete in the winter Olympics, closer to home, the Legislature moved past the halfway point of Session, and state lawmakers are continuing to focus on redistricting maps in Florida while also discussing state budget priorities.
 
In Tallahassee, state representatives passed the state legislative redistricting plans, known as SJR100 - Joint Resolution of Apportionment, mostly along party lines. The Florida Senate unanimously concurred with the Senate amendment and the redistricting maps passed the final legislative step with a unanimous 37-0 Senate vote. The maps will now be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.
 
While a judicial review of the state legislative redistricting maps is underway, state legislators continue their work on redrawing congressional districts in Florida. Gov. DeSantis most recently requested an advisory opinion from the Florida Supreme Court on whether the state constitution requires the retention of a congressional district in northern Florida that connects the minority population in Jacksonville with minority populations to the west. In response, the Florida Supreme Court stated, "…history shows that the constitutionality of a final redistricting bill for all congressional districts will be subject to a more judicial review through subsequent challenges in court.” The court acknowledged that such a review of the district at this time would likely require the justices to look at other congressional districts and not just District 5, so they denied a request for the governor to receive an advisory opinion.
 
House and Senate leaders are beginning to craft the state’s 2022 – 2023 fiscal budget with the Senate budget plans proposing an initial budget totaling more than $108 billion, and the House of Representatives currently proposing a state budget of more than $105 billion. Legislative leaders must still vote on the budget totals with final votes in both the House and the Senate chambers.
 
Gov. DeSantis declared a State of Emergency for various counties related to the freezing temperatures and the effect on agriculture in the state. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey to assess the impact freezing temperatures had on the state’s agriculture businesses. Survey responses will allow the state to gather data and evaluate which resources impacted businesses may need to recover after the freezing weather that occurred during the weekend of January 28-30, 2022.
 
Sara Newhouse has been appointed as the State Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator. The State Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator position was created in 2019 to focus solely on helping communities obtain critical mental health services following a disaster. The position is a part of the First Lady DeSantis’ Hope for Healing Florida campaign, which strives to combine the tools and efforts of the public and private sectors to help Floridians build resilience and prevent substance abuse. Sara Newhouse is a Florida Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a State of Florida Victim Services Practitioner with more than a decade of experience in victim advocacy and crisis counseling. The Junior Leagues of Florida continue to monitor legislative issues relating to youth mental health as a legislative priority.
 
Flags in Florida flew at half-staff in honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Remembrance Day. Broward County Public Schools also observed ‘A Day of Service and Love’ on Monday, Feb. 14 in commemoration of four years after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy. Students, staff and volunteers districtwide will participate in various volunteer and service projects to remember the 17 students and staff lost and those injured on Feb. 14, 2018.

 

Bills to Watch

CS/SB 756: Public Records/Human Trafficking Victims by Sen. DiazHB 1439 - Prostitution, Lewdness, Human Trafficking, and Public Lodging & HB 1441 - Pub. Rec./Human Trafficking Victim Expunction by Rep. Toledo
The Senate version of the bill passed the Florida Senate with a unanimous 39-0 vote. HB1439 favorably passed its final committee in Judiciary. The Senate bill expands the public records exemption authorizing human trafficking victims to expunge a criminal history record related to offenses listed under the habitual violent felony offender designation if the victim was not found guilty of, or did not pled guilty or nolo contender to, such an offense. The bill also creates a new exemption from public records disclosure under s. 119.07(1), F.S., and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution for any petition filed by a human trafficking victim to expunge a criminal history record and all pleadings and documents related to the petition. The bill makes findings that the expansion of the exemption and the new exemption from public records disclosure are each a public necessity as required by the State Constitution. Two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate is required for final passage.

HB 1577 - Homeless Youth by Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee and Rep. Woodson
This bill addresses the needs of homeless children and young adults. Specifically, the bill: 

  • requires district school boards to issue a certified unaccompanied homeless youth a card that includes information on his or her rights and available benefits, and allows health care providers to accept the issued card as proof of the young adult’s status. 
  • expands the Keys-to-Independence program to unaccompanied homeless youth meeting certain requirements. 
  • waives fees for certified copies of a birth certificate for certified unaccompanied homeless youth, and young adults who aged out of foster care. 
  • requires certain postsecondary institutions to have liaisons to assist children and young adults experiencing homelessness, and directs the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to evaluate the effectiveness of those liaisons. 
  • amends the definition of which students qualify for a tuition and fee exemption as homeless children and youth to align with federal law. ·
  • requires documentation that meets the standards of federal law to be adequate to prove a homeless child or youth qualifies for a tuition and fee exemption.

This bill has passed through one committee, and it has the Health & Human Services Committee remaining. The Senate companion bill, SB 1708 - Child Welfare by Sen. Garcia, also has one committee, Appropriations, remaining.
 
SB 7028: Food Policy Advisory Council by the Agriculture committee.
This bill SPB 7028 creates the Food Policy Advisory Council (council). The purpose of the council is to serve as a forum for presenting, investigating, and evaluating barriers to food access for Floridians and for identifying solutions to such barriers. The bill specifies requirements for the membership, meetings, compensation, and duties of the council. It also directs the council to submit a report to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives containing its findings and recommendations on how to best increase access to food in Florida. The bill is also to be reviewed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government, and the Appropriations committee.
 
SB 1770: Donor Human Milk Bank Services by Sen. Book / HB 1333 - Donor Human Milk Bank Services by McFarland
SB1770 is on the Committee agenda for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Committee on 02/16/22 at 10:00 am. Companion HB1333 passed the Finance & Facilities Subcommittee on 02/08/22 with an 18-0 vote. This bill will authorize the state agency AHCA to pay for donor human milk bank services as optional Medicaid service when a licensed physician or nurse practitioner has issued an order for an infant who is medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or breastfeed or whose mother is medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk or breastfeed.

CS/SB 760: Human Trafficking by Senator Berman SB760 is on the Committee agenda for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Committee on 02/16/22, 1:00 pm. The bill unanimously passed the Criminal Justice Committee during the first week of Session. The bill, which has two other committees of reference, amends the human trafficking statute, s. 787.06, F.S., to expand the term “coercion.” Currently, s. 787.06, F.S., delineates the offenses of human trafficking between whether the victim is a child under 18 years old, an adult who is believed to be a child under 18 years old, or an adult. The human trafficking offenses against adult victims require the element of “coercion.” This bill amends s. 787.06, F.S., to expand the term “coercion,” in multiple ways.The House version of the bill, HB 521: Human Trafficking and Prostitution by Rep. Skidmore, has not yet been heard in committee.

SB 1518: Lactation Space by Sen. Berman / HB 1223 - Lactation Space in Courthouses by Rep. Morales
SB1518 is on the Committee agenda for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice for 02/16/22 at 1:00 pm. This legislation would require at least one lactation space to be provided in each county courthouse.
 
SB 246: Tax Exemption for Diapers and Incontinence Products by Sen. Book / HB 85 - Tax Exemption for Diapers and Incontinence Products by Rep. Eskamani These bills aim to repeal the state sales on various diapers in Florida.

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