Homelessness Legislation Passes
HB 163 (Homelessness) by Representative Altman was considered on the House Floor. The bill rewrites the existing homelessness statute to be more in lines with federal statutes in order to expedite funding matches. The bill establishes a grant-in-aid program to help continuum programs battle homelessness. The bill reduces the amount of matching funds or in kind support required for a challenge grant recipient from 100% to 25%, increases the maximum percentage of grant funds that a Continuum of Care lead agency may spend on its administrative costs from 8% to 10%, and changes preference for funding to be to lead agencies for continuums of care that have a demonstrated ability to move households out of homelessness. The bill passed unanimously, 118 - 0. A companion legislation, SB 68 (Homelessness) by Senator Book, was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 163. The bill passed unanimously 38 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Substance Abuse Services Legislation Passes
SB 1120 (Substance Abuse Services) by Senator Harrell was considered on the Senate Floor. The bill addresses patient brokering following opioid legislation from the past few years, codifying and providing penalties for the practice. The bill further requires background checks for certified recovery residence owners, directors, chief financial officers, and certified recovery residence administrators, and shall exempt certain individuals with drug related criminal history from disqualification from working with such individuals. The bill also provides exemptions from employment disqualification for certain offenses. The bill condenses several background screening sections of chapter 397, Florida Statutes, into a single set of requirements. The bill passed unanimously, 38 - 0. A companion legislation, HB 649 (Substance Abuse Services) by Representative Caruso, was substituted on the House Floor for SB 1120 and amended. The amended bill revised the patient brokering statute and made technical changes. The bill passed the House 117 - 0 and the Senate concurred unanimously. The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Affordable Housing Bill Passes
HB 1339 (Community Development and Housing) by Representative Yarborough was considered on the House Floor. The bill was amended on Second Reading to include the expansion of local governments’ ability to zone for affordable housing, establishes new reporting requirements for impact fees, and creates a biannual council of local elected officials to meet and share best practices on affordable housing. The bill passed unanimously, 119 - 0. A companion legislation, SB 998 (Housing) by Senator Hutson, was substituted for HB 1339 and amended. The bill also includes language regarding linkage fees. The bill passed the House 101-10 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Emergency Reporting Legislation Passes
HB 865 (Emergency Reporting) by Representative Anthony Rodriguez was substituted on the House Floor for SB 538 (Emergency Reporting) by Senator Diaz. The bills require counties and municipalities to notify the State Watch Office within the Division of Emergency Management of any incidents listed in the State Watch Office Reportable Incidents List as soon as practicable. Events listed include but are not limited to major fires, natural hazards, bomb threats, public health hazards, military events, mass shootings, animal and agricultural events, dam failures, major utility outages, reportable pollution releases, structure collapses, nuclear plant failures, and major transportation incidents. The Division of Emergency Management must provide a list of reportable incidents to local governments each year. The House removed a Senate amendment to exempt informational meetings and calls during declared disasters from public meeting requirements when two or more members of a governing body attend.The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, 115 - 0 and 38 - 0 respectively, and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Pet Friendly Emergency Shelters Legislation Passes
HB 705 (Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets) by Representative Killebrew passed the Legislature. The bill requires counties to have at least one pet-friendly emergency shelter. Under the bill, the Department of Education is required to assist the DACS and local governments with their plans. The bill passed unanimously, 115 - 0. A companion legislation, SB 752 (Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets) by Senator Bean, was substituted for HB 705 and considered on the Senate Floor. The bill passed the Senate unanimously, 39 - 0.The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Assisted Living Facilities Regulation Bill Passes Legislature
HB 767 (Assisted Living Facilities) by Representative Michael Grant was considered on the House Floor. The bill makes several changes to ALF regulations including the use of assistive living devices, administrator education, updates requirements for adverse incident reports, and training for administering prescriptions. The bill passed unanimously, 119 - 0. A companion legislation, SB 402 (Assisted Living Facilities) by Senator Harrell, was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 767. The bill passed 39 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
First Responder Peer Support Protections Passes
HB 573 (Peer-to-Peer Support for First Responders) by Representative Casello was considered on the House Floor. The legislation allows for confidential communication between first responders and a designated non-mental health practitioner peer for mental health support. The bill further provides that the peer providing support may reveal information disclosed to them in a legal or disciplinary proceeding unless it may be cause for a reasonable fear of criminal or harmful activity. The bill passed unanimously, 118 - 0. A companion legislation, SB 160 (Peer-to-peer Support for First Responders) by Senator Perry, was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 573. The bill passed 39 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Tobacco 21 Legislation Passes
SB 810 (Tobacco and Nicotine Products) by Senator Simmons was considered on the House Floor and amended. The bill raises the smoking age of tobacco to 21 and expands the definition of tobacco and tobacco products. The House amended the bill to create a limited retail tobacco products dealer permit for those retailers selling only vaping products without the need of a permit or fee. These dealers are prohibited from selling loose tobacco. The bill passed the House 99 - 17 and the Senate 27 - 9. The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Emotional Support Animals Legislation Passes
HB 209 (Emotional Support Animals) by Representative Killebrew was substituted on the House Floor for SB 1084 (Emotional Support Animals) by Senator Diaz. The bill codifies emotional support animals but requires owners to receive a certificate from a medical practitioner whom they have an ongoing doctor-patient relationship stating they have a medical need for the animal. Landlords would be required to accomodate owners under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The bill passed unanimously, 116 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Children’s Mental Health Legislation Passes
SB 1440 (Children’s Mental Health) by Senator Powell was substituted on the Senate Floor for HB 945 (Children’s Mental Health) by Representative Silvers.The bill:
- Requires mobile response teams to triage and prioritize requests, then respond within 60 minutes of prioritization;
- Requires managing entities to lead the development of a coordinated system of care for children, with assistance from state agencies if requested by the managing entity;
- Gives managing entities an additional six months to plan and implement a coordinated system of care;
- Removes the bill’s requirement for schools to sign agreements or MOUs with managing entities for community-based services referrals and coordination; and
- Requires a principal to verify that de-escalation strategies have been used and outreach to a MRT has been initiated prior to a student’s removal, unless the principal determines that a delay in the student’s removal will increase the likelihood of harm to the student or others
The bill passed unanimously, 40 - 0 and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Nurse Scope of Practice Bill Passes, Signed by Governor
HB 607 (Health Care Practitioners) by Representative Pigman passed the Legislature. The bill authorizes an advisory committee comprised of physicians and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to develop a list of medical acts that an APRN engaging in autonomous practice may perform. The bill requires the Council on Physician Assistants (Council) to develop rules defining the primary specialties in which an autonomous physician assistant (PA) may practice. The bill requires all APRNs to apply to the Board of Nursing for licensure, rather than DOH, to reflect current practices. The bill revises the composition of the Council so that it has a PA majority. The bill requires the Board of Medicine or the Board of Osteopathic Medicine to approve PA training programs, without the programs first being recommended by the Council.
The bill was amended to revise the timeframe in which a physician assistant must acquire the supervised clinical hours to practice autonomously from 3 years to 5 years preceding the date of application as well as clarify that the supervising physician may hold a license in any state, including Florida, rather than another state. The bill passed the House 107 - 8 and the Senate 30 - 10. The bill was presented to the Governor and signed prior to the end of session.
Prescription Drug Donation Program Passes
HB 177 (Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program) by Representative Duran passed the Legislature. The bill allows clinics, hospitals, and other locations to receive unused prescriptions or medical devices from certain entities, establishes record keeping, storing and distribution, and then donates the medication to qualified indigent patients. The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Nonopioid Alternatives Legislation Passes
HB 743 (Nonopioid Alternatives) by Representative Plakon passed the Legislature and heads to the Governor for final approval. The bill amends the requirement that a health care practitioner advise a patient of nonopioid alternatives before providing opioid anesthesia or prescribing, ordering, dispensing, or administering an opioid drug. The legislation amends this requirement by: authorizing a health care practitioner to choose to advise the patient or his or her representative; providing that a health care practitioner is not required to discuss nonopioid alternatives when treating a patient in a hospital critical care unit or an emergency department, or when treating a patient receiving hospice services; and no longer applying it to “dispensing” or “administering” of an opioid.
911 Systems Public Records Exemption Passes
HB 755 (Pub. Rec. and Meetings/Public Safety Communication Systems) by Representative DuBose was substituted for SB 1060 (Pub. Rec. and Meetings/911 and E911 Communications Systems) by Senator Thurston and heard on the House Floor. The bill creates an exemption for documents and schematics relevant to the infrastructure, facilities, resources and physical structures needed to maintain the public 911 communication system. The bill passed unanimously, 116 - 0. The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Updates to Listed Contraband in Correctional Facilities Passes
HB 745 (Contraband in Specified Facilities) by Representative Plakon was substituted on the House Floor for SB 1286 (Contraband in Certain Facilities) by Senator Simmons. The bill includes hemp, industrial hemp, medical marijuana, vaping products, and cellular devices in the list of contraband within the secure perimeter of correctional facilities and provides criminal penalties for each. The bill also codifies criminal penalties for bringing alcoholic beverages in such facilities although it is already prohibited. The bill passed along party lines, 71 - 43, and now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Suicide Prevention Legislation Passes
SB 7012 (Mental Health) by Senator Book was considered on the House Floor and amended. The bill implements several measures related to suicide prevention. Specifically, the bill:
- Broadens the scope and duties of the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention in DCF as well as the Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council;
- Requires certain health insurance plans to comply with federal regulations relating to mental health and substance use disorder coverage to ensure that Floridians that are privately insured have adequate insurance coverage to help prevent suicides;
- Requires Baker Act receiving facilities to provide suicide prevention information resources to minors being released from a facility
The bill is expected to have a significant fiscal impact on state government. The Office of Suicide Prevention in DCF will need additional staff to meet workload and information sharing requirements. FDOT is required to develop a plan to implement evidence-based suicide deterrent design elements in infrastructure projects and may incur additional project costs.
The bill includes the substance of SB 1586 relating to the First Responders Suicide Deterrence Task Force. The House amended the bill on the floor to remove the following provisions of the bill:
- Adds new training and staffing requirements for instructional personnel at public and charter schools;
- New continuing education requirements related to suicide prevention for various health care practitioners;
- A provision granting civil immunity to persons who help or attempt to help others at imminent risk of suicide;
- Provides civil immunity to persons who help or attempt to help others at imminent risk of suicide; and Requires the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to submit a report that looks at other states’ suicide prevention programs.
- The amendment also removed appropriations from the bill.
The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, 118 - 0 and 38 - 0. The bill now heads to the Governor for final approval.
Emergency Staging Areas Bill Passes Senate, Fails this Session
SB 7020 (Emergency Staging Areas) by Senator Lee passed the Senate but did not have a House companion legislation. The bill allows the Department of Transportation to establish emergency staging areas for supplies and evacuations during declared emergencies on the turnpike system. Preference is given to counties on the new M-CORES routes with populations of less than 200,000.
Statewide Emergency Shelter Task Force Legislation Passes Senate, Fails this Session
SB 1272 (Statewide Emergency Shelter Task Force) by Senator Montford passed the Senate but did not have a House companion legislation. The bill establishes a 7-member task force within DMS tasked with making recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the establishment and operation of state designated emergency shelters. The recommendations must include, but are not limited to, a review of the local, state, and federal activities organized, planned, and executed at emergency shelters during the past 10 years with a focus on a review of all resources (including financial) and a quantification of expenditures.
Bill to Protect Sadowski Trust Funds Fails, Trust Funds Fully Funded
SB 306 (State Funds) by Senator Mayfield failed this legislative session. The bill prohibits further sweeping of funds from the State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds, colloquially known as the Sadowski Affordable Housing Funds. FAC supports the legislation. A companion legislation, HB 381 (State Funds) by Representatives Silvers, was not heard this session. The budget included full funding for the affordable housing trust funds.
Drug Possession and Mandatory Minimum Reform Passes Senate, Fails this Session
SB 346 (Criminal Justice) by Senator Bradley passed the Senate but failed this legislative session. The bill puts a 12 month cap on the purchase or possession of controlled substances under two grams, barring fentanyl, and gives judges more flexibility within the system of mandatory minimums, including lesser punishments, so long as certain violent and sexual crimes are not committed. The 12 month cap for drugs offenses may increase the burden on county jails or other resources such as drug courts. The bill also requires recordings of custodial interrogations and removes the “Clean Hands” provision for the wrongly convicted, where they would not be disqualified from damages based on prior unrelated convictions with exceptions. There was not a direct House companion legislation filed this session.
Bill Allowing Smoking Ban in Public Parks Passes Senate, Fails this Session
SB 630 (Regulation of Smoking) by Senator Mayfield passed the Senate but was never considered in the House. The bill allows local governments to further restrict smoking in publicly owned parks. The bill passed 39 - 1. A companion legislation, HB 457 (Smoking) by Representative LaMarca, was not heard this session. SB 670 (Smoking on Public Beaches and in Public Parks) by Senator Gruters was not considered this session.
Emergency Public Shelter Records Exemptions Passes Senate, Fails this Session
SB 7048 (Public Records/Public Shelter Space) by Senator Lee passed the Senate but did not have a House companion legislation. The bill exempts from public inspection and copying the name, address, and telephone number of a person which are held by an agency providing shelter or assistance to such person during an emergency. FAC adopted and supports public records exemptions for information obtained by a local government in the course of providing emergency management services.
Independent Living Task Force Fails
SB 364 (Independent Living Task Force) by Senator Rader was considered on the Senate Floor. The bill establishes an independent living task force to develop and evaluate policy to promote low-cost assistive housing for the developmentally disabled. The Florida Association of Counties is one of the entities included on the task force. The bill passed unanimously, 39 - 0. A companion legislation, HB 39 (Independent Living Task Force) by Representative Gottlieb, was never substituted nor heard on the House Floor and failed this legislative session.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Sentencing Diversion Fails
SB 1304 (Sentencing) by Senator Brandes passed two committees but failed this legislative session. The bill creates a conditional mental health and substance abuse program for convicted individuals to serve sentences at a treatment facility, and receive certain paroles as opposed to serving a sentence in a typical correctional facility. The bill requires that the offender be a nonviolent offender that is in need of substance use or mental health treatment and does not pose a danger to the community. A companion legislation, HB 1003 (Sentencing) by Representative Stone, was not heard this session.
Dispatcher CPR Training Legislation Fails
SB 1014 (Public Safety Telecommunicator Training) by Senator Rouson failed this legislative session. The bill requires 911 dispatchers to receive biannual CPR training, and the training to relay instructions to individuals over the phone in the course of their duties. A companion legislation, HB 995 (911 Public Safety Telecommunicators) by Representative Davis, was not heard this session.
Baker and Marchman Act Overhaul Fails
SB 870 (Mental Health) by Senator Book failed this legislative session. The bill makes several changes to both the Baker Act and the Marchman Act. The bill broadens the criteria to serve additional individuals under both the Baker Act and Marchman Act. The bill has a significant financial impact on local governments but allows law enforcement discretion in transporting individuals who appear to meet Baker Act criteria to receiving facilities. A companion legislation, HB 1229 (Mental Health and Substance Abuse) by Representative Gottlieb, has not been heard.
Bill to Encourage Pet Microchipping Fails
SB 980 (Lost, Stray, Unwanted, or Homeless Dogs and Cats) by Senator Brandes failed this legislative session. The bill establishes new guidelines and flexibility for local animal shelters including the option to implant radio transmitters. The bill may create a fiscal impact for county governments if they so choose to take part in the program and implant radio chips in dogs and cats taken in by their respective shelters. A companion legislation, HB 685 (Lost or Stray Dogs and Cats) by Representative Silvers, was not heard this session.
Concealed Weapons in Local Government Meetings Bill Fails
HB 183 (Prohibited Places for Weapons and Firearms) by Representative Ponder failed this legislative session. The bill allows elected county commissioners, city council members, and school board members to carry a concealed weapon during meetings of their body so long as the meeting takes place in a location that does not otherwise prohibit the carrying of firearms. Courthouses and elementary schools would be included in this exemption. A companion legislation, SB 1524 (Prohibited Places for Weapons and Firearms) by Senator Gainer, was not heard this session.