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2018 Legislative Session –
Legislative Bulletin
Week Seven: 
February 23, 2018

2018 Legislative Session—Stay Informed!

This is our weekly Legislative Update/Recap report that will continue through the end of Session. Included with this report is the latest copy of the LeadingAge Florida Legislative Bill Tracking Report.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Priority Bills

Continuing Care Communities
SB 438 by Sen. Lee/HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant

CS/HB 783 by Rep. J. Grant (R-Tampa) was not heard in the Commerce Committee this week. The last meeting of the Commerce Committee is next Tuesday, February 27. The agenda for this meeting will be posted on Monday, February 26.

While LeadingAge Florida has been working with Rep. Grant and committee staff, the bill as passed in the HHS committee did not include many of the consensus provisions crafted through months of negotiations with FLiCRA that are important to LeadingAge Florida members. The bill, as amended, continues to raise serious concerns and creates substantive differences between the House and Senate bills, however we have continued discussions on these issues with Rep. Grant and his staff. Rep. Grant’s office has provided LeadingAge Florida a list of provisions that he has committed to amending back into the bill; however we have not seen the actual amendatory language.

CS/SB 438 passed the Appropriations Committee this week. The next stop is the Rules Committee, which is scheduled to meet next Monday, February 26. The bill is not on the agenda for this meeting.

Hurricane Preparedness, Response and Recovery
After Hurricanes Irma and Nate battered nearly the entire state, several bills were filed that, in part:

  • Place requirements on nursing homes and assisted living facilities regarding emergency generators.
  • Require the Agency for Health Care Administration to determine compliance with emergency power requirements through unannounced inspections.
  • Treat nursing homes and ALFs as priorities for power restoration.
  • Create the Florida Strategic Fuel Reserve Task Force within the Division of Emergency Management to develop a recommended strategic fuel reserve for natural emergencies and major disasters.
  • Prohibit workers from being fired for following mandatory evacuation orders.
  • Create the Emergency Power Systems Matching Grant Program to provide matching funds to certain public and private health care facilities for purchasing generators.
  • Mandate that tolls be suspended in counties with a declared state of emergency.

Further, the House Speaker created a Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, chaired by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, to address hurricane-related issues. The Select Committee published 78 proposals to protect the state from future natural disasters, including recommendations relating to transportation and evacuation, education, healthcare, and utilities, among others. The Select Committee report also included recommendations requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, providing special funding for affordable housing, providing potential cut taxes for the state’s agriculture industry, requiring local governments to work with utilities to speed up power restoration, and providing for the recruitment and training of more shelter volunteers.

HB 7085 by the House Health & Human Services Committee (formerly Proposed Committee Bill HHS2) relating to Health Care Disaster Preparedness and Response was heard in and passed by the House Appropriations Committee this week. The bill has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar on February 28.

HB 7085 incorporates some recommendations made by the Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness relating to emergency management plans and special needs shelters. In an effort to address shortages in special needs shelters reported during Hurricane Irma, the bill expands the list of people who could help out in shelters during an emergency. The bill also requires home health-care providers and nurses to develop emergency management plans for their patients.

As it relates to nursing homes and ALFs, the bill adds components that must be included in the facilities’ comprehensive emergency plans to address inadequacies identified in the facilities’ plans in testimony to the Select Committee. The bill also provides enforcement authority to AHCA to ensure that facilities comply with the new plan requirements and follow their plans during an emergency. Facilities could face $500 fines if they do not have plans and could be subject to disciplinary action for not abiding by details of the plans. The bill also requires local emergency management agencies to establish procedures to allow health care facility staff to travel to and from work during declared curfews.

While the Chairman of the House HHS Committee stated last week that there would be a Proposed Committee Bill on the generator rules for nursing homes for consideration by the Committee this week, no such bill was scheduled. We anticipate the PCB will be introduced when the committee meets next week on Tuesday, February 27.

There continues to be uncertainly about whether the ALF generator rules will be taken up due to concerns about the fiscal impact to the ALFs. There is specific funding for generators for nursing homes in the Senate FY 2018-19 budget, but not in the House budget. The House Ways & Means Committee this week approved a $332.7 million tax relief package that includes a $6.7 million cut by providing a sales-tax exemption for generator purchases by nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The emergency generator bill that was moving in the Senate, SB 1874 by Sen. Passidomo, relating to Emergency Power for Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities, was not heard in the Appropriations Committee this week and is not scheduled for the next Appropriations Committee meeting next week.  That is the last scheduled committee meeting for this committee, so it appears that this bill may be dead for this session, unless it is amended onto another bill. 

This bill does not ratify the generator rules but instead requires, by June 1, 2018, each facility to have an operational emergency power source and fuel to sustain an air temperature set in rule for at least 96 hours. The bill also requires that each facility have a plan to monitor residents to ensure that they do not suffer from complications from heat exposure and a plan to safely transport residents to an appropriate facility if the facility’s management knows it will be unable to sustain safe temperatures.  It also requires all ALFs to install an operational carbon monoxide alarm approved by the Florida Building Commission.

Activity on LeadingAge Florida Monitored Bills

HB 483 by Rep. Yarborough and SB 762 by Sen. Mayfield amend the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act that provides an extensive list of unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts prohibited in the business of insurance. The bill increases the maximum allowed value of gifts given by insurance companies for current or prospective customers from $25 to $100. The bill also puts a $100 limit on the total value of gifts given to a particular person annually.

Included in this provision of law are prohibitions on certain inducements to the purchase of insurance; however, there are also exceptions provided by law. Among the exceptions is authorization for insurers and their agents to offer and make gifts of merchandise up to $25 per gift to an insured, prospective insured, or any person, for the purpose of advertising. This exception restricts the value of the advertising gift to $25, but it does not limit the frequency of giving or the aggregate value of gifts given over any period of time.

HB 483 passed the House last week and has been referenced to Committees in the Senate. SB 762 is scheduled to be heard in its last committee of reference, Rules Committee, next Monday, February 26.

HB 551 by Rep. Burton and SB 906 by Sen. Young provide a public records exemption for health care facilities for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings, & diagrams of certain health care facilities.

Current law provides an exemption from public records for building plans, blueprints, schematic drawings and diagrams that depict the internal layout or structural elements of an attractions and recreation facility, entertainment or resort complex, industrial complex, retail and service development, office development, or hotel or motel development held by an agency. These bills expand the exemption to hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.

HB 551 passed the House last week and has been referenced to Committees in the Senate. SB 906 has been placed on the Senate Calendar.

HB 987 by Rep. B. Cortes and SB 1328 by Sen. Keith Perry attempt to create more affordable housing in Florida by prohibiting the charging of impact and mobility fees by a local government until five years after development of affordable housing has begun. The bills include recommendations of the Affordable Housing Workgroup created by legislation enacted by the 2017 Legislature, and create the Hurricane Housing Recovery Program (HHRP) and the Recovery Rental Loan Program (RRLP) to expedite the creation of housing in response to needs created by hurricanes.

HB 987 by Rep. Bob Cortes passed its last committee of reference this week and has been placed on Special Order Calendar on Wednesday, February 28. SB 1328 passed out of its second committee of reference and is scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, February 27.

SB 280 by Sen. Bean relating to Telehealth passed its last committee of reference this week and has been placed on Senate Calendar. The bill provides specific authorization for the provision of health care services through telehealth. Telehealth is the provision of health care services using telecommunication technologies, which allows licensed practitioners in one location to diagnose and treat patients at a different location. The bill will remove regulatory ambiguity regarding the provision of health care services using this technology because it is not currently addressed in Florida Statutes. The bill includes some of the recommendations included in a report by the Telehealth Advisory Council, such as requiring health-care practitioners who provide care through telehealth to be licensed. The bill also includes the advisory council’s recommendation to ban the use of telehealth for prescribing controlled substances to treat chronic or nonmalignant pain or to certify patients for medical marijuana treatment.

The House companion, HB 793 by Rep. Massullo has not be heard in committee, which means it is most likely dead for this session.

Activity on Other Issues of Interest

Reaction to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Shooting

Governor Scott

Today Governor Rick Scott held a news conference to announce a plan to revise state laws in response to the Parkland shooting. He plans to work with legislators over the next two weeks to get his action plan done.  To summarize his statement:

Gov. Scott stated that there are three sections to his plan:  gun laws, school safety and mental health. 

Gun control – the Governor wants to make it impossible for anyone who has mental health issues to use a gun and plans to create a new program in Florida that will allow a court to prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon when either a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer files a sworn request, and presents evidence to the court of a threat of violence involving firearms or other weapons. There would be speedy due process for the accused and any fraudulent or false statements would face criminal penalties.

He also wants to strengthen gun purchase and possession restrictions for mentally ill individuals under the Baker Act. If a court involuntarily commits someone because they are a risk to themselves or others, they would be required to surrender all firearms and not regain their right to purchase or possess a firearm until a court hearing.  He is also proposing a minimum 60-day period before individuals can ask a court to restore access to firearms.

The Governor’s plan will require an individual to be 21 years of age or older to purchase a firearm, and completely ban the purchase or sale of bump stocks. 

School safety the action plan provides $450 million to keep students safe.

The Governor’s plan calls for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school. The law enforcement officers must either be sworn sheriff’s deputies or police officers and be present during all hours students are on campus.  Sheriff’s departments will be given the authority to train additional school personnel or reserve law enforcement officers to protect students if requested by the local school board.

The plan will require mandatory active shooter training as outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. All training and code red drills must be completed during the first week of each semester in all public schools. Both faculty and students must participate in active shooter drills and local sheriff’s offices must approve and be involved in training.

There will be increased funding in the Safe Schools Allocation to address specific school safety needs within each school district, including school hardening measures like metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks. The Florida Department of Education, with FDLE, will also provide minimum school safety and security standards by July 1st to all school districts.

A new, anonymous K-12 “See Something, Say Something” statewide, dedicated hotline, website and mobile app will be established.  Funding will be provided to allow for access to dedicated mental health counselors to provide direct counseling services to students at every school.

Mental Health Initiatives – the action plan includes $50 million in additional funding for mental health initiatives, such as expanding mental health service teams statewide to serve youth and young adults with early or serious mental illness by providing counseling, crisis management and other critical mental health services.

It will require every sheriffs’ office to have a DCF case manager in their department to solely work as a crisis welfare worker for repeat cases in the community, which will require 67 additional employees to be hired at DCF by July 15.

Finally, the plan will provide law enforcement and mental health coordination matching grants to allow sheriffs to establish special law enforcement teams to coordinate with DCF case managers.

Florida Legislature

Legislative leadership is moving closer to producing a gun control reform package, with Senate President Joe Negron indicating a willingness to allow debate on a Democratic proposal to ban assault weapons.  A ban is not included in the package being developed.  Earlier this week, the House voted down a Democratic motion to bring back legislation that would implement a ban on the sale and transfer of assault weapons.  Measures expected to be in the gun control package include: raising the state's minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21; requiring a waiting period for purchases of assault weapons; and implementing a so-called "gun violence restraining order" process.

A Week in Review – News from the Capitol

by Leslie Dughi
Director of Government Law and Policy, GreenbergTraurig

In the middle of the seventh week of session, hundreds of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL converged on the Capitol to push legislators to action in the wake of the recent horrific mass shooting. On Monday, Governor Rick Scott convened a roundtable discussion of state and local leaders including law enforcement, school administrators and teachers, mental health experts, and state agency leadership. This morning, Gov. Scott announced a three-pronged proposal addressing firearms, school safety and mental health programs. Immediately following the Governor’s conference, House and Senate leaders announced their proposal. Below are some components common to both proposals:

  • Creating the ability of the court to prohibit a violent or mentally-ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm when a family member, community welfare expert or law enforcement officer files a sworn request that provides evidence of a threat of violence and requiring certain persons to surrender their firearms and be unable to purchase or possess one until there is a court hearing.
  • Prohibiting persons under the age of 21 to purchase firearms with some exceptions for active duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement.
  • Banning the purchase and sale of bump stocks.
  • Requiring a law enforcement officer in every public school when students are present and providing funding for schools to install metal detectors, bullet-proof glass, steel doors, and upgraded locks.
  • Requiring school districts to share information and coordinate services with the local sheriff’s office, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), FDLE and community behavioral health providers.
  • Requiring schools to create a threat assessment team made up of administrators, teachers, law enforcement, DCF and DJJ that meet monthly to review potential threats.
  • Increasing funding of mental health training, screening and counseling in schools and in the community.

One difference in the two plans is the proposal by the Legislature to create a statewide commission to investigate the system failures in the Parkland shooting. The commission will also review other events to determine weak points in the system that can be remedied. The Governor’s proposal does not include this component. The Senate Rules Committee will meet Monday afternoon to hear the specific proposals outlined in today’s press conference, and there is little doubt that legislation will be approved before the end of session. It remains to be seen how the final approved language is received by the general public, victim advocates and gun enthusiasts. Clearly, the issue will play a major role in the results of the upcoming 2018 election cycle.

As legislators embark on the final two weeks of the regular session there are indications the session may extend past March 9th. Both Chambers have approved their respective budgets; however, conference committees (the appointed group of legislators who hash out the final budget) have not been appointed. With every passing day, the possibility of a timely end grows more remote.

Constitutional Amendment to Raise Taxes. House legislation limiting the ability of the legislature to raise taxes was approved in Senate Appropriations and is ready for the floor. The legislation would add to the Florida Constitution language prohibiting a state tax or fee increase from being imposed or authorized by the Legislature, unless legislation doing so is approved by two-thirds of the legislative membership. The proposal, if approved by the voters, would not apply to a tax or fee imposed by or authorized to be imposed by, a county, municipality, school board, or special district. In order to be added to the Florida Constitution, the proposal must be approved by sixty percent of the voters during the 2018 general election.

Special Election. On Tuesday, special primary elections were held in House District 39 formerly held by Rep. Neil Combee (R) and House District 114 vacated by Rep. Daisy Baez (D). Josie Tomkow won the Republican primary in HD 39 and will now face Democrat Ricky Shirah on May 1st. This seat votes strongly Republican and it is expected that Tomkow will win without much difficulty. Andrew Vargas won the Republican primary for HD 114 and will face Democrat Javier Fernandez and No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidate Liz de las Cuevas on May 1st. Voters in this district do not vote strongly for one party or the other, so we expect a hotly contested race. Following these special elections, both victors will be sworn in; however, they will hold the office just under 50 days before the period opens for all candidates to qualify for office for the 2018 election cycle.

For more information, please email Susan Langston, Vice President for Advocacy at LeadingAge Florida, or call her at the number below.

 1812 Riggins Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308
 Phone (850) 671-3700 | Fax (850) 671-3790 | www.LeadingAgeFlorida.org