If it feels like the legislative session just ended, that’s because it did. Florida’s constitution allows legislators to choose the session start date in even numbered years instead of the normal first Tuesday after the first whatever this is a confusing way to do dates. Why would they move it? Spring Break, campaign season, and possibly bloodlust for turkeys.
The hurricanes delayed the calendars a bit, so we are just seeing the first bills moving through committees. And they are:
SB 96 – Human Trafficking Education in Schools. Revising the required health education in public schools to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking; authorizing a student to opt out of a specified portion of the health education under certain circumstances, etc.
SB 108 – Florida Kidcare Program. Establishing the Kidcare Operational Efficiency and Health Care Improvement Workgroup as a task force administratively housed in the Department of Health to maximize the return on investment and enhance the operational efficiencies of the Florida Kidcare program, etc.
SB 222 – Guardian ad Litem Direct-support Organization. Abrogating the future repeal of provisions related to the guardian ad litem direct-support organization, etc.
That human trafficking one probably needs a tweak: letting parents opt their kids out of the HT curriculum seems unwise, since some parents traffic their kids.
Some other child welfare-related bills I’m watching this session:
- The 240 or so bills that eliminate Florida’s law permitting minors to marry with parental consent. Because, you know, some parents traffic their kids.
- A bill that would permit pro bono attorneys for kids in dependency cases to obtain due process costs from JAC. This is a no-brainer for me. Pro bono attorneys volunteer their services, but they should not also have to personally fund all of the litigation costs related to the case when there is always money leftover in the special needs appointment pot.
- Bills requiring a study on the use of direct files to charge minors as adults. Given the disparities we already know exist across the state, we really need to look into this.
I’m sure there will be lots more to come.