Legislative Updates

logo_150HB 590 – House Bill 590 was the Program’s initiative called the Child’s Best Hope Act.  Currently, in Chapter 63 proceedings when a dependent child is surrendered to an adoption entity, the court is only permitted to determine whether the placement was fit and proper.  The bill adds the best interests of the child to the list of factors judges may consider and weigh when making adoption placement decisions.  The bill was approved by the Governor on March 23, 2016 and is effective July 1, 2016.
Read the bill here.

HB 657 – House Bill 657 creates Foster Family Appreciation Week during the second week of February of each year.  The bill encourages DCF, local governments, and other agencies to sponsor events to promote awareness of the contributions made by foster families.  The bill became effective on March 23, 2016, when approved by the Governor.
Read the bill here.

HB 545 – House Bill 545 strengthens laws to prevent and punish human trafficking.  The bill makes clear that sexually exploiting a child through prostitution is sexual abuse and human trafficking. It amends section 796.07 to clarify that only persons over 18 (and not minors) can be charged with prostitution and related acts under that statute.  Additionally, Chapter 39’s definition of “sexual exploitation of a child” is amended to eliminate language which precluded a finding of sexual exploitation if a child was under arrest or being prosecuted for a violation of Chapter 796.  The bill was approved on March 8, 2016 and is effective October 1, 2016.
Read the bill here.

SB 386 – Senate Bill 386 reduces the time a minor’s criminal history is retained from 5 years to 2 years for minors who are not classified as serious or habitual offenders or committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison.  The bill also allows those minors to apply for expunction of their criminal history records before turning 21, if the minor meets certain requirements and the request is approved by the state attorney.  Additionally, the bill amends section 943.0582 to remove the requirement that applications for prearrest or postarrest diversion expunction must be submitted within 12 months of completion of the diversion program.  The bill was approved on March 10, 2016 and takes effect July 1, 2016.
Read the bill here.

HB 439 – House Bill 439 revises statutes related to mental health issues in the criminal justice system.  Conforming changes are made to Chapter 39 which provide judges authority at adjudicatory and disposition hearings to order a person who has custody or is seeking custody of a child to submit to a mental health assessment and comply with treatment and services identified as necessary.  The bill was approved by the Governor on March 25, 2016 and becomes effective July 1, 2016.
Read the bill here.

SB 1294 – Senate Bill 1294 relates to victim and witness protection and amends the evidence code to raise the age limit for a child’s eligibility for certain protections in court from 16 years of age to 18 years of age.  Under the new law, a motion can be made when necessary so a child under 18 can provide videotaped testimony, participate in proceedings by closed circuit television, or use other protections under section 92.55, such as placing limitations on how testimony is taken or allowing use of a therapy or service animal.  The bill was presented to the Governor on March 22, 2016, and, if approved, will become effective July 1, 2016.
Read the bill here.

HB 5101 – House Bill 5101 revises various statutes related to the Medicaid Program and the Florida Kidcare Program.  The bill removes the five-year waiting period for “lawfully residing children” to access to health care coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Section 409.811(17) is created defining “lawfully residing child” to substitute for the term “qualified alien.”  The new term includes children with a pending application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. The bill clarifies that Kidcare program eligibility is not being extended to undocumented immigrants.  The bill was approved by the Governor on March 17, 2016.  The provisions mentioned above become effective July 1, 2016, though other provisions are not effective until 2017 and still others are contingent on the passage of other legislation.
Read the bill here.

Back