Rep. Steve Crisafulli Week 6 Legislative Report

By  //  April 14, 2014

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House Continues to Pass Important Legislation

THE CAPITOL, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA —The Florida House continued to have a busy week of committee meetings and met in Session on Wednesday and Friday. On Friday, the House passed important legislation addressing a range of issues.

HB 7167 Educational Choice

This bill provides additional opportunities for students to receive the education their parents feel is best suited for their children.

The HB 7167 Educational Choice bill provides additional opportunities for students to receive the education their parents feel is best suited for their children.

The HB 7167 Educational Choice bill provides additional opportunities for students to receive the education their parents feel is best suited for their children.

The bill expands the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to allow students whose household income falls between 185% and 260% of the federal poverty level to apply for a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. This will allow more hardworking families to have the opportunity to send their children to a school that best meets their educational needs.

HB 7167 also establishes the Florida Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program to provide parents of students with disabilities more flexibility to customize their children’s education. Students with disabilities will greatly benefit from the ability to receive treatment that goes beyond the scope of what a public school may offer, such as occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, or a private tutor.

CS/CS/SB 188 Education Data Privacy

SB 188 addresses privacy concerns in our schools. Currently, student education records are protected by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy ACT (FERPA) and state law. However, neither state law nor FERPA specifies which information may or may not be collected.

This bill prohibits any agency or institution from collecting information regarding political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, as well as biometric information of a student or student’s parent or sibling.

This bill prohibits any agency or institution from collecting information regarding political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, as well as biometric information of a student or student’s parent or sibling.

Also, the bill prohibits the disclosure of confidential and exempt education records unless disclosure is authorized by FERPA or in response to a subpoena or court order. The Department of Education (DOE) must establish a process for assigning a non-social security number as a Florida student identification number. Once this process is complete through DOE, a school district may not use social security numbers as student identification numbers in its management information systems.

By preventing the collection of student-specific data, we will protect our students from the risk of identity theft or other criminal acts.

CS/HB 1047 Termination of Pregnancies

This bill aligns Florida law with decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as the Florida Supreme Court by prohibiting terminations of pregnancy after viability. Viability is defined by the bill as the stage of development when the life of the unborn child is sustainable outside the womb through “standard medical measures,” also defined in the bill. The bill requires physicians to determine fetal viability based on a reasonably prudent physician standard, and to document the basis for the determination.

The bill provides two exceptions to the prohibition on terminations after viability, allowing a termination when it is necessary to prevent the death of, or serious irreversible bodily harm to, the mother.

Psychological conditions are not grounds for the health-based exception. In a non-emergency, two physicians must certify that an exception is warranted. In an emergency, if another physician is not available, one physician must make the certification. Each physician’s certification must be based on what a reasonably prudent physician would do.

Under current law, a woman cannot terminate her pregnancy once she reaches the third trimester. CS/HB 1047 keeps the ban on third trimester terminations of pregnancies and amends the current exceptions to that ban in order to align them with the exceptions to the viability ban in the bill.

The bill brings Florida’s laws in line with federal and Florida case law to provide clarity to our mothers, nurses, and doctors. These changes appropriately balance protecting both the life of the mother and the unborn child.

CS/CS/HB 209 Carrying Concealed Weapon or Concealed Firearm

HB 209 creates an exception to current Florida law to allow a person to carry a lawfully-possessed, concealed weapon or firearm on or about his or her person while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or a local authority.

OTHER NOTABLE LEGISLATION

Here is a brief overview of other important legislation that was discussed this week.

 CS/CS/HB 7141 Human Trafficking 

HB 7141 aids victims of human trafficking by building on the Safe Harbor Act, passed through the Health & Human Service Committee and will next be heard by the full House. The Safe Harbor Act treats survivors of human trafficking as victims rather than criminals.

This bill creates a certification process and standards for “safe houses” to ensure appropriate quality and provides the Department of Children and Families (DCF) with spending authority and personnel to fund and administer services. Also, to ensure DCF has the infrastructure to respond properly to victims, HB 7141 adds new administrative requirements. This bill is important legislation that fights human trafficking in Florida and provides services to meet the many needs of the victims which they currently lack.

HB 7173 Florida Retirement System

Additionally this week, the Appropriations Committee considered and passed HB 7173, which modernizes the Florida Retirement System (FRS). This bill represents a fair compromise on pension reform and creates a modern retirement system that protects current employees and retirees, reduces the risk to taxpayers, provides more financial certainty for our state, and offers flexible retirements options for new employees. This bill, part of the Legislature’s Work Plan 2014, makes a number of changes to the FRS that only affect new employees who enroll in the system on or after July 1, 2015.

Also, for regular updates on House District 51, be sure to follow me on Facebook (Steve Crisafulli) and Twitter (@SteveCrisafulli). Links to follow me on social media can be found below.

For regular updates on House District 51, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.


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