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April 1, 2013
Bill provides lawyers for sick kids

Bills to provide state-paid attorneys for children with serious medical problems who are sent to adult nursing homes have cleared committees in both the House and Senate.

The House Subcommittee on Civil Justice and the Senate Judiciary Committee acted on separate bills on March 18.

Rep. Neil Combee, R-Auburndale, sponsor of the House bill, said there are currently 13 children who are “medically fragile” and have “medically complex” conditions and who are in adult nursing homes. He noted that while the Guardian ad Litem Program represents children in dependency and foster care cases, these children need services beyond those provided by GAL.

Combee said besides the enacting legislation, the program would also require a $325,000 appropriation in the Legislature’s 2013-14 budget for the attorneys to be provided.

Both committees unanimously passed their respective bills, which now have further committee assignments in both chambers.

“This is a very small population of children in our foster system that have very special medical conditions, and they have to have access to counsel to see their needs are met,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said.

[Revised: 12-17-2014]