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Issue 3 | February 1, 2016

Share Weekly News from the Capitol #LiveUnitedFL


Top News: Senate TED Budget Helps ALICE families; KidCare Bill Passes Key House Committee



Sen. Audrey Gibson with TED Budget (left) and Rep. Jose Feliz Diaz presents KidCare bill (right)


There was good news last week in both chambers. On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development (TED) released its proposed 2016-2017 budget, which includes a $1 million appropriation that will be used to help hard working ALICE families recoup their tax refunds to help them pay bills, reduce debt, and save for future emergencies. Thank Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville), who is sponsoring the United Way’s funding request.


On Thursday, in a major victory for child health, the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee passed HB 89, which removes the five-year waiting period currently in force for lawfully-residing immigrant children to become eligible for KidCare (Florida’s children’s health insurance program). The bill will open the door to health care coverage for 15,000 children at no cost to the state; the federal government will pay the entire amount. The bill's next stop is the House floor. Thank Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (R-Miami), who has been the long-time champion for this bill.



Education Budget Proposals Released



Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education reviews proposed budget allocations



Senate Education Appropriations Chair Don Gaetz listens to debate


The House and Senate education appropriations committees released their budget proposals last week. Some budget highlights include:


2015-16 Proposed 2016-17 HOUSE Proposed 2016-17 SENATE
Total Public Schools $13.3 B $14.2 B $13.14 B
Total VPK $389 M $401 M $395 M
Total Early Learning $1.025 B $1.05 B $1.03 B
TEACH $4.5 M $11.5 M $4.5 M
School Readiness Perform’c Funding $10.5 M $15.5 M $15.5 M
Help Me Grow $1.9 M $1.9 M $100,000


Afterschool and Mentoring Programs: In the Senate budget proposal traditional funding allocations for these programs have been replaced with a new $30 million ‘Statewide After-Care and Mentoring Competitive Grant Program’, providing competitive awards to nonprofits for after-school and school supplemental programs.



Healthy Food
Financing Initiative



Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) presents bill to the committee


Access to quality retail grocers in Florida is linked to diet-related health outcomes including diabetes, diet-related cancers, stroke, and liver disease. The American Heart Association reports that low-income areas have more convenience stores than supermarkets, thus limiting healthy options in those areas, and that 2.5 million Floridians live in areas where fresh food is not readily available. CS/SB 760 (Bean, R-Jacksonville) establishes the ‘Healthy Food Financing Initiative’ to provide financial assistance for development or expansion of grocery retail outlets that operate in underserved areas or in low- or moderate-income communities.



Mental Health/Substance
Abuse Overhaul



Senate Mental Health and Substance Abuse bill sponsor Sen. Rene Garcia



House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee Chair Gayle Harrell


Both the House and Senate have committed to making fundamental changes to Florida's mental health and substance abuse system, passing three bills out of committee last week. PCB CFSS 16-01 and CS/HB 979 (House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee) make changes to the statewide safety net system of services for substance abuse and mental health (SAMH) and to the Marchman Act (which provides for voluntary and involuntary treatment for substance abuse impairment), as well as to the state's laws governing acute behavioral health care services. SB 12 (Garcia, R-Hialeah), substantially amended last week, mirrors the House bills and creates a coordinated approach to Substance Abuse and Mental Health care through a "No Wrong Door" system of single access points.



Bills to Watch This Week


HB 1253 Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot (Perry, R-Gainesville) Creates Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program within DOE; provides for participation, program requirements, funding & incentive payments; requires UF's College of Education to perform evaluation.


CS/CS/HB 675 Federal Immigration Enforcement (Metz, R-Groveland) Requires state & local governmental agencies to comply with & support enforcement of federal immigration law; prohibits restrictions on transfer of information regarding citizenship or immigration status; prohibits sanctuary policies; authorizes law enforcement agency to transport unauthorized alien; requires state & local governmental officials to report violations; provides penalties for failing to report violation; provides cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death caused by sanctuary policy; waives sovereign immunity for such actions.


CS/HB 563 Temporary Cash Assistance Program Gaetz,Mstrong> (R-Shalimar) Adds proof of application for employment to eligibility requirements for receiving services or temporary cash assistance; decreases lifetime cumulative total time limit for receiving temporary cash assistance; adds proof of application for employment to work activity requirements for participant in temporary cash assistance program. Requires income of undocumented immigrant family members to be included in calculating Temporary Cash Assistance Program benefits.


SB 7034 Prenatal Services and early Childhood Development (Children, Families & Elder Affairs) Revises requirements for Department of Health to maintain a clearinghouse of information for parents and health care providers on developmental evaluation and early intervention programs; renames the ‘Infants and Toddlers Early Intervention Program’ as the ‘Early Steps Program’; requires development of an individual family support plan for each child in the program.



With the Legislature in session, our director of public policy, Jess Scher, is back in Tallahassee, continuing to advocate for our public policy priorities: quality early education, access to health care and financial stability for ALICE families. She'll keep us informed as to what's happening – as well as what we can do through this publication as well as her blog.



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Questions or comments?


Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.


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