Legislation designed to enhance the health and safety of Florida’s residents and visitors
The Florida Senate today considered several pieces of legislation focused on wide-ranging aspects of public safety and security. Additional legislation will be considered by the Senate throughout the remainder of the 2020 Legislative Session.
“No function of government is more important than the safety of the people we serve. I am pleased to see the Senate continue bipartisan work to improve public safety across many areas of public policy,” said Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), who has made enhancing public safety a priority of his term as Senate President. “Today we had the opportunity to highlight several areas of public safety, and my colleagues and I look forward to taking up additional legislation in the coming days.”
“The establishment of a statewide strategy for targeted violence prevention will ensure law enforcement officers have the tools and training needed to better-identify individuals on the pathway to violence,” said President Galvano. “We are also building on the public safety efforts enacted in 2018 and 2019 with legislation specifically designed to enhance the safety of our students, teachers and school personnel.”
“Strengthening reporting requirements for child abuse and improving educational and training opportunities on mental health and suicide prevention for education, law enforcement, and medical personnel who serve at-risk Floridians will help improve the ability of these professionals to recognize and respond to vulnerable Floridians in need of help,” said President Galvano.
“Our state infrastructure is at the core of government’s responsibility regarding public safety. Expanding fixed broadband in rural areas of our state will help our first responders quickly and accurately reach Floridians in need, while the development of permanent staging areas for emergencies will improve the efficiency of emergency response, expediting the dissemination of crucial emergency supplies, including food, water, and fuel. Together, these initiatives build on the critical public safety components of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program passed last year,” continued President Galvano. “Responsibly planning for the impacts associated with climate change, including sea level rise, will ensure the long-term resiliency of our infrastructure investments.”
Condemning Philosophies that Espouse Superiority
Senate Resolution (SR) 214, Philosophies that Espouse Superiority, by Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami), rejects and condemns any philosophy that incites one group of people against another on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability. Accordingly, the resolution rejects and condemns the philosophies embraced by white nationalists and white supremacists, and affirms that these philosophies are contradictory to the values that define the people of Florida and the United States.
Statewide Strategy for Targeted Violence Prevention
SB 1552, Law Enforcement Activities, by Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami), provides for the statewide development of a Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM) tool by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A BTAM is a structured group process used to evaluate the risk posed by an individual, typically as a response to an actual or perceived threat or concerning behavior. The threat assessment enables law enforcement to identify individuals on a pathway to violence.
Alyssa’s Law: Alert Systems in Public Schools
SB 70, Alert Systems in Public Schools, by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), creates “Alyssa’s Law,” requiring each public school, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, to implement an interoperable mobile panic alert system, known as “Alyssa’s Alert”, capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responders. The bill is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who was among the 17 killed on February 14, 2018.
Child Safety Alarm Act
SB 88, Child Care Facilities, by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), creates the “Child Safety Alarm Act” and requires that after January 1, 2021, vehicles used by child care facilities and large child care homes to transport children must be equipped with an approved alarm system that prompts the driver to inspect the vehicle for the presence of children before leaving the area.
Jordan’s Law: Child Welfare
SB 122, Child Welfare, by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), creates Jordan’s Law, which makes a number of changes to the laws related to the child welfare system in an attempt to address issues that were identified in the case of Jordan Belliveau, a two-year old boy who was killed by his mother in Pinellas County. The bill requires specified child welfare professionals, Guardian ad Litem program staff, and law enforcement officers to receive training on the recognition of and response to head trauma and brain injury in children under six years old.
Protection of Records for Public Safety Radio Communication Systems
SB 1060, Public Records and Meetings/911 or E911 Communication System, by Senator Perry Thurston, Jr. (D-Fort Lauderdale), makes confidential and exempt from public records disclosure requirements of certain plans and geographical maps relating to 911, E911, or public safety radio communication structures or facilities owned and operated by a state agency. Any portion of a meeting that would reveal the confidential and exempt information is made exempt from the public meeting requirements.
SB 538, Emergency Reporting, by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-Hialeah), ensures coordination of reporting emergency incidents by directing the State Watch Office within the Department of Emergency Management to create and maintain a list of emergency related reportable incidents. The list must include, but is not limited to the following: major fire incidents; search and rescue operations; bomb threats; natural hazards and severe weather; public health and population protective actions; animal or agricultural events; environmental concerns; nuclear power plant events; major transportation events; major utility or infrastructure events; and certain military events.
SB 728, Threats, by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), prohibits threatening to use a firearm or weapon at certain locations with intent to do bodily harm to any person or to do damage to any of the designated properties, if the threat is sufficient to cause alarm in a reasonable person.
Statewide Emergency Shelter Task Force
SB 1272, Statewide Emergency Shelter Task Force, by Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) creates a 7-member task force within the Department of Management Services. The Task Force is tasked with making recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the establishment and operation of state designated emergency shelters. The recommendations must include, but are not limited to, a review of the local, state, and federal activities organized, planned, and executed at emergency shelters during the past 10 years.
Reporting Abuse, Abandonment, and Neglect
SB 7000, Reporting Abuse, Abandonment, and Neglect, by the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, chaired by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), strengthens reporting requirements relating to child sexual abuse and adds a requirement that the central abuse hotline keep statistical reports relating to reports of child abuse and sexual abuse that are reported from or occur in specified educational settings. SB 7000 also adds new requirements for investigations related to reports of child-on-child sexual abuse that occur in those educational settings.
SB 7012, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, by the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, chaired by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), broadens the scope and duties of the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention by requiring coordination of education and training curricula on suicide prevention efforts for veterans and services members and creating the First Responders Suicide Deterrence Task Force to assist in the reduction of suicide rates of first responders. The bill adds new training and staffing requirements for instructional personnel at public and charter schools, and continuing education requirements related to suicide prevention for various health care practitioners, among other changes.
Expansion of Fixed Broadband Service
SB 1166, Broadband Internet Service, sponsored by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula), transfers the broadband policy implementation from the Department of Management Services (DMS) to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). Specifically, the bill creates the Florida Office of Broadband within the DEO’s Division of Community Development, including specific duties regarding the development, marketing, and promotion of broadband. The bill authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to use up to $5 million annually from the State Transportation Trust Fund Allocation to the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (MCORES) Program for projects that assist in the development of broadband infrastructure within or adjacent to a multiuse corridor.
Permanent Staging Areas for Emergencies
SB 7020, Emergency Staging Areas, by the Senate Committee on Infrastructure and Security, chaired by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon), provides for the plan, design, and construction of permanent Staging Areas for Emergencies (SAFE) as part of Florida’s Turnpike System to facilitate prompt emergency assistance in response to a declared state of emergency. The bill directs the FDOT, in consultation with the Florida Department of Emergency Management, to consider several factors when selecting proposed sites for SAFE locations. SAFE locations must be created in geographic areas that best facilitate wide dissemination of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide ease of access to major highways and other transportation facilities; be large enough to accommodate the staging of a significant amount of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide space in support of emergency preparedness and evacuation activities, such as fuel reserve capacity; and, can be used during non-emergency periods for commercial motor vehicle parking.
Statewide Office of Resiliency
SB 7016, by the Committee on Infrastructure and Security, chaired by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon), establishes the Statewide Office of Resiliency within the Executive Office of the Governor. The office must be headed by a Chief Resilience Officer, appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Governor. The bill creates the Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force, adjunct to the Statewide Office of Resiliency, to recommend consensus projections of the anticipated sea-level rise and flooding impacts along Florida’s coastline. The bill provides for task force membership and requires that all appointments be made by August 1, 2020. The Chief Resilience Officer must chair the task force and convene it no later than October 1, 2020, after which it must meet upon the call of the chair. The task force must develop and recommend consensus baseline projections of the expected sea level rise for planning horizons designated by the task force. The task force is authorized to designate technical advisory groups to inform its decision-making and to request the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to contract for services to assist in developing the recommended baseline projections. The DEP must serve as contract administrator for such contracts.
Implementation of the Recommendations of the MSDHS Commission
Among other public safety legislation scheduled to be discussed this session, Senators will consider legislation to implement the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) Public Safety Commission. Sponsored by the Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-Hialeah), SB 7040 addresses recommendations included in the second report from the MSDHS Public Safety Commission. The legislation provides additional safeguards for Florida’s students and schools by building upon the school safety and security foundation established in the MSDHS Public Safety Act (SB 7026, 2018) and prior recommendations of the MSDHS Commission codified by the Legislature (SB 7030, 2019).