What’s on tap for week two of the legislative session

by | Jan 21, 2020

The first week of the legislative session is in the books, and just like that, week two is underway as legislators return to the Capitol.

The first week of session was more show than substance, with legislators gathering to file last-minute legislation and participate in the State of the State address given by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Week two, however, ramps things up a bit, with some important legislation being considered in committees and subcommittees across both chambers.

Here are some of the bills to keep an eye on this week.

(SB 52) – Medicaid Services

On Tuesday, the Senate Health Policy Committee will consider Senator Aaron Bean’s proposal that would continue to require the Agency of Health Care Administration to pay for Medicaid-covered services on retroactive eligibility timeframes.

In the past, Florida had a 90-day retroactive eligibility window for people to apply for Medicaid. That changed under the leadership of then-Governor Rick Scott, who reduced the amount of time to 30 days.

Under current law, the change to a shorter eligibility period is scheduled to expire July 1. Bean’s bill would eliminate the expiration date, keeping the policy in place.

The legislation is expected to generate millions and falls in-line with DeSantis’ proposed spending plan for the upcoming year.

(HB 687) – Services for Veterans and Their Families

A bipartisan bill introduced by Representative Ardian Zika, this measure would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a Florida Veterans’ Care Coordination Program that would provide behavioral health care referrals and care coordination to veterans and their families.

The program would also allow a veteran to call a separate veteran-dedicated support line to receive assistance and support from a fellow veteran who is trained to respond to the calls for assistance.

The House’s Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will consider the bill on Tuesday.

(SB 918) – Civic Education

With a desire to “make civics great again,”  DeSantis proposed in December that high school students should be subject to testing to determine their proficiency in the subject. He followed that up last week by bringing attention to civics illiteracy in his State of the State address.

The goal: to improve civics education and understanding throughout the state.

This week, the Senate Education Committee will consider Senator Jeff Brandes bill that would develop minimum criteria for a nonpartisan civic literacy practicum for high school students. The bipartisan legislation would attempt to boost high school civics education through community projects for Florida students.

Under the bill, school districts would have the option to include “civic literacy projects” in their U.S. Government curriculum. The projects would require students to identify an issue or problem in their communities, research it and then develop strategies to address it.

Brandes’ legislation is a companion bill to a measure (HB 581) introduced in the House by Representative Ben Diamond. It advanced in the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee last December.

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