Updated: Jan 15
Updates from the House Majority Office during committee weeks and the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
Now heading into week six, state representatives have already heard dozens of bills – a strong start ahead of the 2020 legislative session. On Dec. 9, lawmakers will return to the Capitol for their sixth and final week of interim committee meetings. The legislative session begins Tuesday, Jan. 14.
House Health Quality Subcommittee votes for free-market health care reform
Floridians could get tested and treated for flu and strep at their local pharmacy under a bill passed by the House Health Quality Subcommittee on Wednesday. This legislation opens additional health care market options for patients who don’t want to plan a visit to the doctor for these common illnesses.
House Bill 389 authorizes qualified pharmacists to perform a simple swab test and offer treatment for the flu and strep throat. Pharmacists will be required to complete an additional eight hours of training to qualify. If the bill becomes law, Florida will join 15 other states that have already improved access to health care in this manner.
Under current state law, pharmacists already provide services, such as vaccinations, once reserved for doctors. When patients have more options, access to health care is improved and the market drives down costs.
Subcommittee unanimously passes bill to grant veterans, service members higher education credit
Military service members and veterans will earn uniform credit across all public postsecondary schools in Florida for their job training and education under a new bill approved unanimously by the House Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee just after Veterans Day.
If passed this session, House Bill 171 would require all Florida public universities and colleges to adopt a framework for service members and veterans to receive credit for certain military experience. The statewide guidelines would provide uniformity for how Florida higher education institutions grant credits.
Eliminating procedural inconsistencies will ensure a smooth transition process, giving veterans a clear idea of what to expect should they choose to continue their education after service. It will also waive transcript fees for active-duty military members and veterans, and their spouses and dependents.
PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee sees results from school hardening, mental health funding
In the wake of ongoing national news about school shootings, the House PreK-12 Appropriation Subcommittee heard an update from the Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools, created by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, on funding for safety and training for personnel.
Since July 2018, the School Hardening Grant Program has disbursed nearly $38 million to Florida school districts to improve the physical security of school buildings. Schools have used the funds to install surveillance cameras, panic buttons, emergency notification systems to first responders, fences, and other updates. Over the same time, the Department of Education implemented mental health awareness training in schools as required by the Public Safety Act. As of November, hundreds of thousands of school employees completed training to better serve students experiencing a mental health crisis.
Florida students are safer thanks to the state’s investment in funding school hardening and mental health training programs.
House Speaker Jose Oliva talks budget, child welfare system on WLRN radio show
As lawmakers prepare for the legislative session, one of their key tasks is to craft a balanced state budget. House Speaker Jose Oliva recently appeared on WLRN radio to discuss the importance of prioritizing the state’s needs while addressing the executive branch’s $2 billion-plus in requests.
This year, the speaker has tasked House committees with analyzing recurring expenses in the state budget – some of which were allocated many years ago – to identify areas to cut. This exercise in reallocating current funds should help free up dollars for Oliva’s priority items, such as Florida’s child welfare system.
“We’re trying to come up with solutions so we don’t break up families,” Oliva said. “(It’s about) compensating the caretakers…(and) increasing the pay of people who actually go into a home and make the decision of whether those children will stay in that home.”
During the interview, Oliva addressed the governor’s request for first-year teacher raises and environmental spending. Listen to the full interview below.