In Session: 2021 Committee Week 4

 

Our annual Legislative Preview is next week – February 24. Join us to hear from United Way of Florida President & CEO Rick Owen and welcome back Lobbyist Jose Diaz for a preview on the upcoming legislative session. RSVP to receive Zoom login information and send questions in advance to advocacy@unitedwaymiami.org

 

 

We participated in a virtual press conference on SB412/HB481 and SB926/HB657 led by Senator Rouson. The bills would refer all evictions to mediation and allow court records of evictions due to COVID-19 to be sealed so that Floridians can move on from the eviction more quickly.

SB 260, Harrell (Veterans) and SB510, Hooper (Sadowski) – two of our priority bills – passed unanimously out of their first Committees and the House version of the Veterans bill (HB231) also passed unanimously.

The Governor’s budget proposal – entitled Florida Leads – holds funding at prior year levels for most of our priority areas – early childhood professional development, mental health supports for children and adults, older adults’ access to health services – and fully funds the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund. We need to see increased investment in reimbursement rates if community providers are going to keep up with the minimum wage that increases to $10/hour this fall. Child care providers and programs that support older adults living in their homes will need to be addressed.

The Sadowski Coalition released a report showing a 40% return on investment to the state for every dollar spent on producing affordable housing.

“New housing construction creates tremendous benefits for Florida workers, businesses and the economy as a whole. The Florida Chamber and the Sadowski Coalition have always known that building new housing options for our growing communities would lower the cost of living and increase the number of jobs in our state,” said Christopher Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

Our United Way of Florida Capitol Day is coming up on March 31. More details to come as speakers are confirmed, but expect to hear from committee leaders and bill sponsors related to our Consensus Agenda. Starting with Advocacy 101 in the morning, followed by a keynote focused on Women in Leadership at noon and sessions through the afternoon focused on education, financial stability and health. A special session for Mission United is also being planned.

As always, our legislative agenda for the year supports the three United Way of Miami-Dade impact areas: education, financial stability and health with a special focus on veterans. We will be adding information related to our Local Agenda as legislation is filed.

Issue papers for the United Ways of Florida Agenda have been updated for 2021 on early education, health, housing and veterans.

BILL TRACKING

Education:

  • Improve transparency, accountability and performance of the state’s early learning programs (School Readiness and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten), thus benefiting those who fall within the ALICE population, with a focus on equitable outcomes for children
    • SB419 – Grall – Aligns Early Education and K-12 systems, creates Division of Early Learning in Department of Education
  • Increase professional development opportunities and incentives for childcare workers
  • Expand access to family support services that link families to local resources

Financial Stability:

  • Increase access to affordable housing by appropriating all Sadowski Housing Trust Funds for their intended purpose
  • Support keeping Floridians in their homes and mitigating the long-term impact facing people who are evicted from their homes
    • SB412 – Rouson, HB481 Driskell – Refers all evictions to mediation between landlord/tenant; eliminates requirement of back rent in deposit at Registry of Court
    • SB926 – Rouson, HB657 – Hart – Requires court to seal record of eviction upon request of the defendant for all COVID-19 related evictions
    • SB576 – Jones – Prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to prospective tenant with eviction on record due to COVID-19
  • Capitalize on opportunities to enhance Florida workforce development activities and initiatives

Health:

  • Improve access to affordable healthcare for Floridians, with a focus on vulnerable low-income populations
    • HB 201 – BartlemanKidCare eligibility –  Increases income eligibility (from 200 FPL to 300 FPL) threshold for coverage under Florida Kidcare program
    • SB238 – BookPostpartum Extension – Extends current Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women from 60 days postpartum to 12 months postpartum
    • SB604 – BrandesDental Services – Authorizing Medicaid to reimburse for dental services provided in a mobile dental unit
    • HB314 – DuranMedicaid Extension – Extends Medicaid eligibility to specified individuals
  • Increase targeted funding for prevention and treatment services for substance use disorders and mental health services
  • Maximize home and community-based services for older adults to reduce nursing home costs and waitlists

Veterans:

  • Support a MISSION UNITED initiative to enhance system navigation utilizing peer support to ensure every veteran and their family that needs assistance has an in-person contact that they can utilize to access services beyond the referral process to align with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Support recommendations of the 2019 Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Forward March report to reinforce best practices, reduce redundancies and implement solutions to fill gaps
    • SB586 – Wright – Provides coordination of federal SkillBridge program which matches civilian workforce opportunities to veteran’s training background
    • HB071 – Willhite – Urges Congress to recognize veteran suicide & fully fund suicide prevention efforts by United States Department of Veterans Affairs
*(United Way of Miami-Dade is tracking bills related to our issue areas – not necessarily taking a position)

Resources:

 

2021-02-25T14:23:59-04:00 February 16th, 2021|