- As we enter the 8th week of the Legislative Session, several very important issues are pending including, most notably, legislation to address student safety and school security. As we alerted you last week, Governor Scott, the Senate, and the House have all recommended legislation on student safety and school security. We have posted information on our Health & Safety page that outlines the Governor’s proposal and the joint House-Senate proposal. As of today, three bills that appear to be the joint effort of the Senate and House have been filed to address these issues: SB 7022 relating to Firearm Safety, SB 7024 relating to Public Records with regard to Victim of a Crime of Mass Violence, and SB 7026 relating to School Safety. These bills will be considered on Monday by the Senate Rules Committee. Please click on the link below for more information about these bills and others that will be considered tomorrow.
The Senate Rules Committee will meet, 2:30 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
SB 7022 – Firearm Safety by Rules
The bill amends several provisions to increase firearm safety. Specifically, the bill:
- Provides law enforcement and the courts with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence.
- Authorize a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition the person possesses if the person poses a potential danger to himself or herself or others and has made a credible threat of violence against another person. The law enforcement officer’s agency must hold any seized firearm or ammunition for at least 72 hours or until the person appears at the agency to retrieve the firearm or ammunition.
- Provides that a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution may not own a firearm or possess a firearm until relief from the firearm possession and firearm ownership disability is obtained. The bill provides a process to remove this disability.
- Raises the age from 18 to 21 years of age for all firearm purchases from licensed firearm dealers, importers, and manufacturers. This prohibition does not apply to a member of the military or naval forces of this state or of the United States or to a law enforcement or correctional officer.
- Revises the current three-day waiting period between the purchase of and the delivery of a handgun to create a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns and also extends the waiting period beyond three days if additional time is necessary to complete the firearm purchase background check.
- Defines “bump-fire stock” and prohibits the importation, transfer, distribution, transport, sale, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or giving away of a bump-fire stock. A violation of the prohibition is a felony of the third degree.
- Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order. The intent of the process and court intervention is to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others by accessing firearms when there is demonstrated evidence that a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior, and:
- Provides that, if the court issues a risk protection order it may do so for a period that it deems appropriate, up to and including but not exceeding 12 months.
- Provides for an ex parte temporary risk protection order, if necessary, before the hearing on a final risk protection order.
- Provides that, within 24 hours after issuance, the clerk of the court shall forward a copy of an order to the appropriate law enforcement agency specified in the order. Upon receipt of the copy of the order, the law enforcement agency shall enter the order into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Provides that the law enforcement officer serving a risk protection order, including a temporary ex parte risk protection order, must request that the respondent immediately surrender all firearms and ammunition in his or her custody, control, or possession and any license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The bill provides a procedure for the respondent to petition to vacate the risk protection order.
- Provides that the respondent may submit one written request for a hearing to vacate a risk protection order, starting after the date of the issuance of the order, and may request another hearing after every extension of the order, if any.
- Provides that, if a risk protection order is vacated or ends without extension, a law enforcement agency holding a firearm or any ammunition that has been surrendered or seized must return such surrendered firearm or ammunition requested by a respondent only after confirming through a background check that the respondent is currently eligible to own or possess firearms and ammunition.
- Provides that a respondent may elect to transfer all firearms and ammunition that have been surrendered to or seized by a local law enforcement agency to another person who is willing to receive the respondent’s firearms and ammunition. The law enforcement agency may allow such a transfer only if it is determined that the chosen recipient specified criteria.
SB 7024 – Public Records / Victim of a Crime of Mass Violence by Rules
The bill creates a new public records exemption for the address of a victim or the immediate family member of a victim of a crime of mass violence which has taken place on a public or private K-12 school or postsecondary institution school grounds.
SB 7026 – School Safety by Rules
The bill promotes school safety and enhanced coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local level. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes the Commission on School Safety and Security within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass shooting events, and develop recommendations for system improvements.
- Codifies the Office of Safe Schools (office) within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and specifies purpose for the office is to serve as the state education agency’s primary coordinating division for promoting and supporting safe-learning environments.
- Creates the Florida Sheriff’s Marshal Program within the DOE as a voluntary program to assist school districts and public schools in enhancing the safety and security of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to Florida’s public schools and campuses.
- Codifies the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SEDNET) as a function of the DOE in partnership with other state, regional, and local entities to facilitate collaboration and communication between the specified entities.
- Establishes the Public School Emergency Response Learning System Program to assist school personnel in preparing for and responding to active emergency situations and to implement local notification systems for all Florida public schools.
- Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility, and:
- Requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
- Requires each school district to designate a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation to provide supplemental funding to assist school districts and charter schools in establishing or expanding comprehensive mental health programs and to connect students and families with appropriate services.
- Clarifies the applicability of public records exemptions for security systems and plans.
SB 858 – Daylight Savings Time by Steube
The bill creates the Sunshine Protection Act which provides that the Legislature intends to adopt daylight saving time as the year-round standard time if the United States Congress amends 15 U.S.C. s. 260a, relating to Daylight Saving Time.
SB 1426 – Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Lee
- Requires local governments to post on their websites the voting records related to taxes and debt.
- Requires property appraisers to maintain a website that includes certain property tax information.
- Requires local governments to provide additional notice of tax increases and new tax-supported debt.
- Requires local governments to undergo a debt affordability analysis before authorizing debt.
- Requires local government audits submitted to the Auditor General to be accompanied by an affidavit from the chair of the governing board stating that the local government has complied with the Local Government Fiscal Transparency Act.
- Requires the Auditor General, during its review of local government audit reports, to request evidence of corrective action from local governments found not to be in compliance under certain circumstances; and requires local governments to provide evidence of such correction action and evidence of completion of such action within a specified period.
- Revises the local government annual reporting requirements for economic development incentives.
The House Government Accountability Committee will meet, 2:00 – 5:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 227 – Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders by Willhite
The bill provides workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits in specified circumstances for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic regardless of whether the individual’s PTSD is accompanied by a physical injury requiring medical treatment. First responder PTSD-related wage replacement benefits, in addition to currently available medical benefits, must be paid under certain circumstances. The first responder must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist with PTSD following certain specified death-related events that were experienced while acting in the course and scope of his or her employment. These death-related events include working a call involving the death of a child, a homicide, or the death, including suicide, of a person who suffered grievous bodily harm. The circumstances include seeing the decedent, seeing or hearing the injury or death, and participating in the treatment or transport of those who die in these events. Eligible PTSD claims are not subject to benefit limitations generally applicable to mental and nervous injuries, apportionment, or contribution. Such PTSD claims must be filed within 30 days of the death-related event or manifestation of the PTSD, but no later than one year after the event. Each qualifying death-related event that the first responder experiences will carry its own timely reporting deadline. The bill also requires an employing agency of a first responder, including volunteer first responders, to provide educational training related to mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation, and treatment.
HB 79 – Public Meetings by Roth
The bill defines “de facto meeting” as the use of board or commission staff or third parties, acting as intermediaries, to facilitate a discussion of public business between or among board or commission members and clarifies that de facto meetings are subject to the Sunshine Law. The bill specifies that members of the same board or commission may participate in fact-finding exercises or excursions to research public business, and may participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature, if:
- The board or commission provides reasonable notice;
- The exercise, excursion, or meeting is open to the public;
- A vote, an official act, or an agreement regarding an action at a future meeting does not occur;
- There is no discussion of “public business” that occurs; and
- There are appropriate records, minutes, audio recordings, or video recordings made and retained as a public record.