This afternoon, the Florida Legislature passed the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force’s 2021 proposed legislation, embodied as Senate Bill 804, which amongst other provisions, has now barred local building officials and fire marshals from declaring that a single-family dwelling or a two-family dwelling (duplex) has been “reclassified” to be, amongst other uses, a “Residential Board and Care” facility. This means those dreaded fire inspections which triggered sprinklers and other lifesafety improvements that are not otherwise required in single-family and two-family homes cannot now be required in order to obtain a passing fire inspection. This only applies to certified recovery residences. This does not apply to apartment buildings.
Not only are such improvements expensive (retrofitting a house for sprinklers can cost >$25k), but such improvements have been deemed by more than one federal court to be discriminatory (since we don’t require the same from families related by blood or marriage; recovery residences intentionally create the functional equivalency of a biological family).
A huge debt of gratitude and appreciation is extended to those who persisted over the past 3 years to see this reasonable and appropriate change to the Florida building and fire code occur.
SB 804 is attached and includes several other changes to provisions governing the licensure and regulation of substance use disorder treatment programs, including:
- The bill makes it a third degree felony to falsify information, or to withhold material facts, on an application for licensure as a substance abuse service provider.
- The bill authorizes the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to suspend a service provider’s license for failing to pay, within 60 days of a date set by the DCF, administrative fines and accrued interest related to disciplinary action taken against the service provider. The bill also mandates that a service provider pay fines and accrued interest resulting from violations of patient referral prohibitions within 60 days of a date specified by the DCF. If a service provider fails to remit payment within 60 days, the bill requires the DCF to immediately suspend the service provider’s license.
- The bill also broadens the eligibility for exemption from employment disqualification for certain prior criminal offenses to specified employees of an applicant recovery residence and to applicant recovery residence administrators (until now, CRRA’s were treated differently by the law when it came to applications for exemption from disqualification, which has now been corrected).