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House Bill 497

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at March 18, 2014

This morning I watched the House Healthy Families Subcommittee hearing on HB 497.

The video from the hearing can be seen here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2014031259&committeeID=2717

An amendment was filed last Friday afternoon which replaced the former House version of the bill and starts over with a fresh approach.

Word on the street is that House staff and other Representatives could not support Representative Hager¹s filed bill. Therefore, a new approach was taken and filed last Friday, which was apparently based upon an Orange County, California program and creates a voluntary certification program. The amended bill, as approved today, is attached, as is the subcommittee staff report. More information on the Orange County program can be found here: http://ocsd.org/about/info/services/sober

The California program states on its website: ³The sole purpose of the Certification Program is to provide access to quality residential facilities for the persons in need of drug-and alcohol-free recovery environments and to promote public safety.²

In contrast, the sponsors of the House bill, including members of the Subcommittee today, stated once again that ³those people do not belong in residential neighborhoods.²

They simply either don¹t get it, refuse to get it, or are practicing their testimony for their interview with the US Dept. of Justice.Š.

Anyway, I am withholding all comment on the House bill until there is further movement and discussion from the other elected members.

Meanwhile, a completely different approach is being heard by the Senate Committee on Community Affairs tomorrow, March 19th at 11am: http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/CA

You can watch the hearing here: http://thefloridachannel.org/ or follow my commentary from the cheap seats, at https://twitter.com/SoberLaw

At a minimum, I would consider the 2014 Legislative Session to be a success on this issue if the following 2 steps were taken: (1) a specific allocation of funds to Broward and Palm Beach counties to hire more staff and give raises to existing employees; and (2) an amendment to s. 397.415 relating to sanctions, to include that an allegation of kickbacks or patient brokering is sufficient for the Department to initiate a license revocation or suspension hearing under Chapter 120, Fla. Stat.

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