At FAC’s Policy Conference last month in Palm Beach, the Public Safety Policy Committee met to discuss issues that will most likely come up during the 2014 Legislative Session.  The conversation focused on Synthetic Drugs, Pain Management Clinics and the County Cost-Share relationship for Juvenile Secure Detention, all of which were FAC priorities in 2013.   The committee agreed that Synthetic Drugs remain a critical threat to public safety and the health of our youth.  As further affirmation that the Committee remains justifiably concerned, this past week, Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has been on the forefront of the fight against the sale of these harmful substances, issued another Emergency Order temporarily banning 4 new synthetic compounds that are showing up around the state.  The compounds are: B-PINACA; AB-FUBINACA; ADB-PINACA; and Fluoro ABDICA.  The EO will remain in effect until the legislature can take action against permanently outlawing these substances.  

The majority of the conversation at the meeting revolved around the county cost-share relationship for Juvenile Secure Detention.  For years, counties litigated the issue of the legality of DJJ’s interpretation of the cost-share statute.  The counties maintained that DJJ’s rules were contrary to the plain meaning of the statute, the effect of which, was the improper shift of financial responsibility to the counties.  In June 2013, the First DCA issued a definitive ruling affirming an administrative law judge’s Final Order finding DJJ’s rules were invalid. See, DJJ v. Okaloosa, et al. (Case No. 1D12-3929).  As a result of the ruling, counties are expected to pay approximately $40 million LESS in detention costs for FY13-14.  Furthermore, based on DJJ’s own data, it appears the State will need to fund the program with approximately $39 million in additional general revenue on a recurring basis. How the legislature will respond to this new development is still not known.  Therefore, the question presented at Policy Conference was whether FAC should adopt a new policy statement that speaks directly to this issue.  It was then recommended that the committee consider adopting the following: SUPPORT legislation that codifies the financial responsibility of the counties and state as upheld by Florida’s courts.  The final vote on this proposed new policy statement will take place at FAC’s Legislative Conference November 13-15, 2013, in Volusia County.