2020 State Legislative Priorities

Each year, Disability Rights Florida engages in legislative education and advocacy. We strive to cover a broad range of issues important to people with disabilities in our state. The Florida state legislative session begins on January 14, 2020. Disability Rights Florida is focusing on the following priorities:

Legislative Review of Proposed iBudget Medicaid Waiver Redesign

The state’s budget deficits cannot be resolved on the backs of vulnerable enrollee and waitlist populations; there should be no caps/cuts/reductions to service delivery and no drastic revisions to eligibility determination/enrollment (including crisis enrollment) procedures in any waiver redesign.

Preventing Increased/Unintended Mental Health & Disability Stigmatization

It is imperative that the state’s investments in mental health & substance abuse recovery systems do not further stigmatize or criminalize those receiving or in need of services; do not unnecessarily place this population at an increased risk of incarceration during crisis intervention; and do not require the relinquishment of constitutionally-protected privacy interests without meaningful due process protections. This includes legislative consideration of expansion of Risk Protection Orders (“Red Flag Laws”); disability-specific missing person alert systems; as well as review of MSD High School Public Safety Commission findings related to mental health service delivery, behavioral threat assessments and educational privacy.

Ensuring Meaningful Prohibitions, Standards and Definitions Governing the Use of Restraint & Seclusion on Students with Disabilities in Public School

Despite nearly 64,000 restraints and 20,000 seclusions involving students with disabilities in public schools in the six years following passage of district-level data collection measures, current state law nonetheless still: permits the seclusion of students with disabilities; permits mechanical, prone and supine restraint practices upon students with disabilities; and provides no definitions/standards for the use of physical restraint, mechanical restraint, or seclusion on students with disabilities in our state’s public school system.

Anti-Discrimination in Private School Voucher Programs

Students shouldn’t be discriminated against based on disability status or related educational needs by virtue of participation in publicly-funded voucher programs at nearly 2,200 participating private schools statewide.

Supported Decision-Making as a Less-Restrictive Alternative to Guardianship

Providing courts with the specific understanding & ability to consider supported decision-making arrangements would undergird state guardianship law with important less-restrictive self-determinative & self-directive mechanisms that also serve to safeguard against potential guardianship abuses (as seen in recent headlines).

Addressing Florida’s Affordable, Accessible Housing Crisis

Florida should cease its regular “sweeps” of funding dedicated to address Florida’s affordable housing capacities, so that ample accessible and affordable housing opportunities permitting community-based & supportive outcomes can be ensured across several segments of the state’s disability community.

Preventing Discrimination in Implementation of Single-use Plastic Straw Bans

Due to a range of factors specific to persons with disabilities who utilize and rely upon the availability of plastic straws, the alternative options proposed are not uniformly viable alternatives that sufficiently account for the health and safety needs of all users and consumers seeking to integrate within their chosen communities.

Inclusive/Accessible Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response Systems

These and other planning considerations should be embarked upon with – and not for – members of the disability community, well in advance of disasters and other emergencies across all levels of government.

Broadening the Definition of Disability in State Hate Crime Laws

Current law does not comprehensively or adequately protect those with certain disabilities in the state from crimes evidencing prejudice/hate; ensuring that Florida’s statutory definition of disability is as broad in this regard as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) intends is an important step in dignifying the existence and experiences of all Floridians with disabilities.

Prohibiting Discretionary Direct Filing of Juveniles & Youth Solitary Confinement

Florida prosecutes more children as adults for felonies than any other state, and most youth are sent to the adult criminal justice system at the sole discretion of a prosecutor; youths should only be held in solitary confinement in an emergency or for related emergency medical reasons, for specified and limited durations.