2019 Legislative Information

With the most recent recording of our podcast, You First, we recognized the need to share information regarding the outcomes of the 2019 Legislative Session that are imperative to the health, wellbeing, and experience of people with disabilities. We have summarized the legislation from this past 2019 session for you to review and reference.


Passed Legislation

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

CS/CS/Senate Bill 366 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-143, L.O.F.) – Infectious Disease Elimination Programs – the “Infectious Disease Elimination Act” defines an “exchange program” as a sterile needle and syringe exchange program, and uses the current University of Miami pilot program as a model to authorize voluntary exchange programs statewide, provided such programs operate under the approval and authority of a county commission at one or more fixed locations or through a mobile unit in the applicable county. The bill prohibits state, county, or municipal funds to be used to operate an exchange program, providing that an exchange program may only be funded through grants and donations from private resources.

CS/CS/House Bill 369 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-159, L.O.F.) – Substance Abuse Services – promotes the use of peer specialists (individuals who have been in recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness for at least 2 years – or family members or caregivers of such individuals – who use their own personal experience to provide services in behavioral health settings to support others in their recovery) in behavioral health care, by providing that the state may specifically grant exemptions from disqualifying offenses for purposes of background screening of peer specialists; further codifies existing training and certification requirements for peer specialists. The bill further subjects all owners, directors and chief financial officers of a recovery residence (sober home) applying for voluntary certification to Level II background screening, and creates a new first-degree misdemeanor offense for knowingly/fraudulently disclosing inaccurate information on a licensure application; exempts certified recovery residences from landlord/tenant laws in cases where a discharge is deemed necessary to protect the resident, other residents, or staff (provided that such recovery residence has an approved discharge policy).

CS/CS/House Bill 451 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-123, L.O.F.) – Nonopioid Alternatives – establishes legislative findings that every adult has the right of self-determination regarding healthcare decisions, including the rights to refuse treatment with a Schedule II opioid controlled substance; requires the Department of Health to develop and publish on its website an educational pamphlet regarding the use of nonopioid alternatives for the treatment of pain; further requires health care practitioners, prior to providing anesthesia or ordering, administering, dispensing or prescribing a Schedule II opioid drug to a patient in a nonemergency situation to: (a) inform patients of available nonopioid alternatives, (b) discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use of nonopioid alternatives, (c) provide patients with the educational information developed by the Department of Health, and (d) document this in the patient record.

CS/CS/House Bill 595 (Approved by Governor; Ch. 2019-81, L.O.F.) – Alcohol or Drug Overdose Prosecutions – provides immunity from arrest, charge, prosecution, or penalty for selling, giving, or serving alcohol to a person under 21 years of age where such person, acting in good faith, seeks medical assistance for the individual experiencing, or believed to be experiencing, an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose (such immunity also applies to an individual with a good faith belief that they themselves are experiencing an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose and therefore in need of medical assistance). Further provides immunity from arrest, charge, prosecution, or penalty for use or possession of drug paraphernalia or drug possession (excluding possession of 10g or more of certain Schedule I/II controlled substances) for a person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose as well as a person who experiences an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose and therefore in need of medical assistance.

CS/CS/Senate Bill 838 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-51, L.O.F.) – Public Records Exemption/Mental Health Treatment and Services – creates a public record exemption to make confidential and exempt from disclosure under the state’s public records laws all petitions for voluntary and involuntary admission for mental health treatment, subsequent court orders, and related records filed with or by a court pursuant to the state’s Baker Act.

CS/CS/Senate Bill 1418 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-134, L.O.F.) – Mental Health – implements two recommendations of a Department of Children and Families task force on Baker Act cases involving minors. Currently, the Florida Mental Health Act (the “Baker Act”) allows for voluntary and, under certain circumstances, involuntary, examinations of individuals suspected of having a mental illness and presenting a threat of harm to themselves or others, and establishes procedures for courts, law enforcement, and certain health care practitioners to initiate such examinations and then act in response to the findings. The task force found that the state has seen an increasing trend statewide and in certain counties to initiate involuntary examinations of minors in recent years. The first recommendation contained in the bill encourages school districts to adopt a standardized suicide assessment tool that school-based mental health professionals would implement prior to initiation of an involuntary examination. The second recommendation increases the number of days (from the next working day to five working days) within which a receiving facility must submit forms to the Department of Children and Families, allowing the department to capture data on whether the minor was admitted, released, or a petition was thereupon filed with the court. Moreover, the legislation requires that when a patient communicates a specific threat against an identifiable individual to a mental health service provider, such provider must notify law enforcement of the potential threat; also requires that such law enforcement notify the target of the threat presented and further provides immunity from civil & criminal liability to service providers acting in good faith when releasing such information.

Medicaid/Health Care

Senate Bill 2500 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-115, L.O.F.) – General Appropriations Act – within this year’s GAA, proviso language directs the Agency for Health Care Administration to seek federal approval for a federal waiver, a state plan amendment or other federal authorization to provide a program called the “Working People with Disabilities” program for adults with developmental disabilities who receive service under the state’s Medicaid waiver programs; directs the agency to request an increase to the monthly income limit up to 550 percent of the Federal Benefit Rate ($50,886) for individuals with earned income through paid employment (and/or cash assets up to $13,000 for a single individual and $24,000 for a couple, including additional allowance for a qualified retirement account recognized by the Internal Revenue Service). The agency is directed to implement the program upon federal approval & provide a report detailing the number of participants to the Governor & Legislature by June 30, 2020.

Senate Bill 2502 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-116, L.O.F.) – Implementing the 2019-2020 General Appropriations Act – within this year’s Implementing Bill, two relevant provisions include:

  • Extends the state’s current repeal of Retroactive Medicaid Eligibility until July 1, 2020; requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to submit a report to the Governor & Legislature regarding the impact of the waiver of retroactive eligibility on beneficiaries and providers by January 10, 2020, including: (a) the total unduplicated number of nonpregnant adults who applied for Medicaid at a hospital site or nursing home from February 1, 2019 through December 6, 2019 and, of those applicants, the number whose Medicaid applications were approved and denied (including the reasons for denial ranked by frequency); (b) the estimated impact of medical debt on people for whom a Medicaid application was not submitted in the same month when the individual became an inpatient of a hospital or a resident of a nursing home; and (c) recommendations to improve outreach and Medicaid coverage for nonpregnant adults who would be eligible for Medicaid if they applied before an event that requires hospital or nursing home care. Moreover, the agency is directed to provide a copy of the evaluation design and performance metrics submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services relating to the waiver of retroactive eligibility (in conformity and as required for 1115 demonstrative projects).
  • Provides that, if the Agency for Persons with Disabilities continues operating at a deficit during the 2018-19 fiscal year, the agency in conjunction with the Agency for Health Care Administration shall develop a plan for a Medicaid Developmental Disabilities Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (iBudget) redesign and submit such plan to the Legislature by September 30, 2019. At a minimum, the plan must include: (a) budget predictability (specific steps to restrict spending to budgeted amounts); (b) services refinements (identification of core services that are essential to provide for client health and safety, and recommendations for elimination of coverage for other services that are not affordable based on available resources); (c) flexibility (encouraging client control over allocated resources for their needs); (d) support coordination services (modifying the manner of providing support coordination services to improve management of service utilization); and (e) reporting (monthly reports to the Legislature on plan progress and development by July 31, 2019 and August 31, 2019). The legislation specifies that such program redesign is subject to legislative approval at some future point and directs the Agency for Health Care Administration to seek necessary federal authority to implement once approved.


CS/CS/Senate Bill 7030 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-22, L.O.F.) – Implementation of Legislative Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission – among other provisions intended to enhance school security measures (including expansion of the state’s school guardian program), the bill directs continued development of a standardized, statewide behavioral threat assessment instrument for use by all K-12 public and charter schools by August 1, 2019 (and an evaluation of each school’s compliance with this requirement by August 1, 2020), and establishes a Statewide Threat Assessment Database Workgroup within the Office of Safe Schools to, among other things, propose recommendations (by December 1, 2019) regarding the development of a statewide threat assessment database to provide access to information about any school threat assessment to authorized personnel in each school district. The legislation also requires district school boards and charter schools to promote the use of a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool by advertising the tool on its website, school campuses, newsletters, and on all mobile devices and computers issued to students.

CS/Senate Bill 7070 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-23, L.O.F.) – K-12 Education – among other provisions intended to support students and families, public schools and teachers, the bill modifies the obligations of scholarship-funding organizations related to both the Hope and Gardiner Scholarship Programs; further clarifies that a charter between a sponsor and charter school may include a provision requiring the charter school be held responsible for costs, including, but not limited to, mediation, damages, and attorney fees, incurred by the school district associated with complaints to the Office of Civil Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


CS/Senate Bill 7066 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-162, L.O.F.) – Election Administration – among other substantive changes made to the Florida Election Code (including “implementation” of Amendment 4, “restoring” voting rights of certain convicted felons as approved by voters in the state during the 2018 Midterm Elections), mandates that voters with disabilities cast a ballot on voting systems that produce a voter verifiable paper output (VVPO) for canvassing and recount purposes; authorizes the general use of such VVPO touchscreen systems by all voters, not just those with disabilities; extends the cure deadline for defective vote-by-mail ballot signatures from 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election to 5:00 p.m. on the second day after the election; modifies the ballot-envelope voter’s certificate to request additional contact information; creates additional phone- and electronic-notice requirements to conform; creates a provisional ballot signature cure process that mirrors the revised vote-by-mail signature cure process; moves the last day for voters to request vote-by-mail ballots from six to 10 days before an election, and prohibits supervisors from mailing out such ballots less than eight days (currently four) prior to the election; allows a voter to drop off their vote-by-mail ballot at a secure drop box located at each active early voting location and the supervisor’s main or branch office; moves the deadline for a voter to update their signature for purposes of validating a vote-by-mail ballot from the beginning of the vote-by-mail canvassing period to when the vote-by-mail ballot is received; creates a process to use valid provisional and vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavits to update voter signatures immediately and provides for post-election notice to electors whose ballots are invalidated due to a signature discrepancy.


CS/House Bill 311 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-101, L.O.F.) – Autonomous Vehicles – legislation revising various provisions of law relating to autonomous vehicles; authorizes operation of a fully autonomous vehicle on Florida roads regardless of whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle; applies provisions relating to the operation of transportation network companies and vehicles to on-demand autonomous vehicle networks; authorizes the Florida Turnpike Enterprise within the Department of Transportation to enter into one or more agreements to fund, construct, and operate facilities for the advancement of autonomous and connected innovative transportation technologies for specified purposes.

CS/House Bill 411 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-72, L.O.F.) – Nonemergency Medical Transportation Services – authorizes a transportation network company (regulated by the Department of Financial Services under Chapter 627, F.S.) to provide nonemergency medical transportation services to a Medicaid recipient via any of the following arrangements: (a) under contract with a Medicaid managed care plan; (b) under contract with a transportation broker that is under contract with a Medicaid managed care plan; (c) under contract with a transportation broker that is under contract with the Agency for Health Care Administration; or (d) by referral from a transportation broker contracting with Medicaid managed care plans or the Agency.


CS/House Bill 49 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-65, L.O.F.) – Incarcerated Women – the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act” requires all correctional facilities to make health care products available to each incarcerated woman, including those at county detention facilities, juvenile detention center or residential facility, temporary holding center, or any other criminal detention facility operated by the state. Further provides that male correctional facility employees are prohibited from conducting a pat-down or body cavity search on an incarcerated woman, must announce their presence upon entering a housing unit for incarcerated women, and may not enter specified areas of a facility in which an incarcerated woman may be in a state or undress or viewed as such.


CS/Senate Bill 124 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-010, L.O.F.) – Dependent Children – legislation addressing the complications that arise when a dependent child or young adult is involved in legal proceedings in multiple courts and jurisdictions (for example, the courts of a county having jurisdiction over a child’s dependency case lost jurisdiction to appoint a guardian for the child if the child is placed in a living arrangement outside of that county; similarly, the courts of the county having jurisdiction over an incapacitated young adult’s dependency case lose jurisdiction to appoint a guardian for the young adult if placed in a specialized/supportive living arrangement outside of the county). The bill addresses this issue by creating an additional guardianship venue provision that permits venue in the county with jurisdiction of the dependency case. The bill further permits the court, before making a final disposition or receiving a quarterly report in juvenile proceedings, to receive & consider any information provided by the Guardian Ad Litem Program and the child’s attorney ad litem, if appointed, when the child is also under the jurisdiction of a dependency court; requires the Department of Juvenile Justice to notify the dependency court and others before transferring a dependent child in the Department’s custody from one facility or program to another.

CS/Senate Bill 262 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-128, L.O.F.) – Child Welfare – revises the dependency process for abused children removed from their home to facilitate permanency (reunification, placement with a permanent guardian, or adoption) within one year (according to the Department of Children and Families, only 40% of dependent children in the state reach their permanency goal within one year at present).


CS/CS/House Bill 501 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-148, L.O.F.) – Alternative Treatment Options for Veterans – authorizes the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to contract with a state university or other state college institution to furnish alternative treatment options for veterans certified as having posttraumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury. Alternative treatment options that may be provided under the bill include: (a) accelerated resolution therapy; (b) equine therapy; (c) hyperbaric oxygen therapy; (d) music therapy; and (e) service animal training therapy.

Senate Bill 910 (Approved by Governor; Ch. 2019-61, L.O.F.) – Court-Ordered Treatment Programs – expands eligibility criteria for individuals who may participate in a military veterans’ and servicemembers’ court program (veterans’ courts are problem-solving courts aimed at addressing and treating the root causes of criminal behavior in order to reduce criminal recidivism; for military veterans and servicemembers who are charged with or convicted of criminal offenses, often the underlying cause of criminal behavior is a military-related injury such as posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or a substance abuse disorder). Currently, the only veterans eligible to participate in state veterans’ courts are honorably-discharged veterans, generally-discharged veterans, and active duty servicemembers; this legislation expands participant eligibility to any veteran discharged or released under any condition.

General Government/Other

CS/Senate Bill 184 (Approved by Governor; Ch. 2019-011, L.O.F.) – Aging Programs – moves rulemaking authority for hospice care, assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, and adult day care programs from the Department of Elder Affairs to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

CS/CS/House Bill 441 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-146, L.O.F.) – E911 Systems – among other changes to 911 service delivery and coordination, the bill requires each county to develop and implement a countywide plan providing for text-to-911 services by January 1, 2022.

CS/House Bill 843 (Approved by the Governor; Ch. 2019-138, L.O.F.) – Health Care – among other revisions to state health care and health insurance laws, recreates the Dental Student Loan Repayment Program to promote access to dental care by supporting qualified dentists who treat medically-underserved populations in dental health professional shortage areas or medically-underserved areas. Further establishes the Donated Dental Services Program to provide comprehensive dental care through a network of volunteer dentists and other dental providers to needy, disabled, elderly, and medically-compromised individuals who cannot otherwise afford necessary treatment but are ineligible for public assistance.

CS/CS/CS/House Bill 851 (Approved by Governor; Ch. 2019-152, L.O.F.) – Human Trafficking – requires the Department of Legal Affairs to establish a direct-support organization tasked with providing assistance, funding and support to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking; requires the licensee/certificate holder of a range of healthcare establishments to complete a one-hour continuing education course on human trafficking; requires certain entities to post in their place of work a sign instructing to call the National Human Trafficking Resource center if there is suspected prostitution or human trafficking activity; requires massage and public lodging establishments to implement procedures for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline by January 1, 2021; requires a public lodging establishment to provide annual training regarding human trafficking awareness to certain employees by January 1, 2021, or within 60 days after a new employee begins employment; requires law enforcement officers to complete four hours of training in identifying and investigating human trafficking within one year after beginning employment.

Defeated Legislation

HB 771 (vetoed by Governor, May 10th) – Environmental Regulation (Ban on Single-Use Plastic Straw Bans)

SB 62/HB 349 – Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools

HB 305/SB 844 – Orange Alert

HB 513/SB 1166 – Camo Alert

HB 343/SB 688 – Disabled Parking Permits

HB 721/SB 1128 – Emotional Support Animals

HB 743/SB 940 – Crimes Evidencing Prejudice

HB 955 – Medicaid Work Requirements

HB 959 – TANF Work Requirements

SB 1524 – Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Budget Updates

Affordable Housing Trust Fund – $201M appropriated, nearly $137M “swept” (largely for Hurricane Michael recovery)

iBudget – $48.7M ($18.8 GR; $29.9 TF) (held in reserve; monthly surplus-deficit reports; budget amendments trigger)

iBudget Reconciliation – $56.9M ($22M GR; $34.9 TF) to address FY17-18 iBudget deficits

Residential Habilitation Provider Rate Increase – $28.7M ($11.1 GR; $17.6 TF)

Corrections/ADA Litigation – $1.25M, 12 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions

Corrections/Mental Health Litigation – $31.9M, 573 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions

Session Statistics

Bills filed: 3,571

Amendments filed: 2,997

Votes taken: 3,765

Floor sessions: 40

Total bills passed: 196 bills passed both chambers to be sent to the Governor for approval