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Issue 6   |  April  10, 2017 

Top News: Budget Update
Left: House Appropriations Chair Carlos Trujillo; Right: Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala.

The House and Senate draft 2017-2018 state budget bills will be passed on Wednesday. But big dollar differences create a $2 billion divide between the two proposed budgets and could result in a special session if they can't be resolved before the end of the regular session on May 5th.  Some of the budget items important to United Ways are summarized here .
Financial Stability Update
Sadowski Coalition holds a press conference in Tallahassee to urge the Florida Legislature to use all Sadowski Housing Trust Funds for affordable housing.

Affordable Housing Funds Likely Swept Again       
Florida has the third largest homeless population in the nation and over 950,000 Floridians spend more than 50% of their income on housing.  But the Florida House and Senate proposed 2017-18 state budgets take more than half of the $292.4 million intended for affordable housing to use for other purposes. Sadowski Coalition data show why the proposed budgets will harm Florida workers and the economy. Read more .

Financial Literacy Required for High School Graduation
High school students may soon be required to take a course on financial literacy and money management in order to graduate. CS/SB 392 (Hukill, R-Port Orange) is heading for a floor vote in the Senate and the House companion bill, HB 955 (Ahern, R-Seminole and Fitzenhagen, R-Ft.Myers) is not far behind. Read more
Health Update
Left: Rep. Nick Duran sponsor of HB 597; Right: Sen. Aaron Bean sponsor of SB 1260.

House Cracks Down on Opioid Prescriptions
In 2015, 779 Floridians died from heroin overdoses, an 80% increase from the previous year. Almost 80% became addicted through opioid prescription drugs. The House passed CS/CS/HB 557 (Duran, D-Miami) last week 93-22 that limits the first prescription for opioids to a five-day supply and changes the reporting requirements from 7 days to 24 hours. Read more here and here

Restrictions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
According to USDA data, most American families, including SNAP participants, spend about 20% of their food budgets on junk food, including sugary drinks and cand y.   SB 1260 ( Bean, R-Jacksonville) amends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to add soft drinks and candy to the list of items that cannot be purchased w ith an electronic benefits transfer card. Read more  here and here .
Early Education Update
Rep. Erin Grall, sponsor of HB 1229.

Committee on Early Grade Success
Florida has made significant strides in increasing reading proficiency, but there are still a considerable number of students who are not reading at proficient levels. Data is needed to support investments in early childhood program quality to help children enter Kindergarten ready to succeed. HB 1229 (Grall, R-Vero Beach) c reates a committee to recommend developmentally appropriate assessme nts of children in the School Readiness and VPK programs, coordinated with the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. Read mor here and here.
The Teacher Education And Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) scholarship program supports early learning teachers to improve their qualifications and compensation.  Funding for T.E.A.C.H. is at risk in the proposed House budget. Read more here and here.
Bills to Watch

Week of April 10-14, 2017

SB 2500 Appropriations: Provides moneys for the annual period beginning July 1, 2017, and ending June 30, 2018, and supplemental appropriations for the period ending June 30, 2017, to pay salaries and other expenses, capital outlay - buildings, and other improvements, and for other specified purposes of the various agencies of state government, etc.
HB 5001  General Appropriations Act: Provides moneys for annual period beginning July 1, 2017, and ending June 30, 2018, & supplemental appropriations for period ending June 30, 2017, to pay salaries & other expenses, capital outlay-buildings & other improvements, & for other specified purposes of various agencies of state government.
CS/SJR 76  (Lee, R-Brandon) Limitations on Property Tax Assessments: Proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to limit annual assessment increases for specified non-homestead real property.
CS/CS/SB 1052 (Simmons, R-Longwood) Justifiable Use of Force: Deletes a requirement that a person first be attacked in his or her dwelling, residence, or vehicle before using or threatening to use force.
Quick Links
Questions or Comments?
Contact Ted Granger, United Way of Florida, or Jess Scher, United Way of Miami-Dade.