Legislative Positions 2018-2020 — Public Interest Law Section
Advocacy by sections is wholly supported by the separate resources of those voluntary organizations, and must be conducted solely in the name of each such group. Section lobbying does not implicate the mandatory membership fee paid by any Florida Bar licensee.
July 27, 2018
1. Supports legislation recognizing the state’s legal obligation to provide medical, mental health and developmental services to all children in state custody who need such services.
2. Supports adequate funding for mandated programs under the state’s Families in Need of Services and Children in Need of Services legislation pursuant to Chapter 984, Florida Statutes.
3. Supports legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.
4. Opposes any legislation that would eliminate, impair, or change the Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program.
5. Supports extending foster care and jurisdiction of the juvenile courts through age 21 for young adults who wish to remain in foster care beyond their 18th birthday.
6. Supports legislation to clarify that children in shelter or foster care be accorded the protections of § 39.4085, Florida Statutes.
7. Supports legislation to extend child health insurance coverage, including special health care needs, dental care, vision care, presumptive eligibility and continuous eligibility, to all children who are eligible for coverage under KidCare.
8. Supports legislation to allow relatives with custody of a child pursuant to any court order to receive financial assistance under the Relative Caregiver Program.
9. Supports legislation to restore a convicted felon’s right to vote one year after completion and satisfaction of all sentences and court obligations, unless the majority of the Board of Executive Clemency objects.
10. Supports a legislative prohibition against executing a mentally retarded capital felon.
11. Supports legislation providing for court-appointed attorneys for children who are subject to abuse and neglect proceedings, to advocate for the children’s interests in legal proceedings affecting their placement and needed services.
12. Resolves to call upon the state of Florida to not carry out the death penalty until Florida implements policies and procedures that are consistent with the following policies intended to
2) minimize the risk that innocent persons may be executed through:
a. Implementing the American Bar Association’s “Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases” (adopted February 1999) and ABA policies intended to encourage competency of counsel in capital cases (adopted February 1979, February 1988, February 1990, and August 1996);
b. Preserving, enhancing, and streamlining state and federal courts’ authority and responsibility to exercise independent judgment on the merits of constitutional claims in state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus proceedings; and
c. Striving to eliminate discrimination in capital sentencing on the basis of the race of either the victim or the defendant.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that in adopting this recommendation, apart from the policies enunciated above, the Public Interest Law Section of The Florida Bar take no position on the death penalty, other than that relating to offenders who are mentally retarded or under the age of 18 at the time of the offenses.
13. Opposes the expansion of the use of detention for purposes other than in response to charges for alleged acts of delinquency of a child.
14. Supports legislation that would allow children, convicted and sentenced in criminal court, to serve their sentences under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
15. Consistent with the final report of the Special Committee on the Legal Needs of Children, supports legislation giving the public access to information to properly scrutinize the Department of Children and Family Services’ and the Department of Juvenile Justices’ performance of its statutory duties to protect children from harm while protecting the confidentiality of the individual children and families involved.
16. Consistent with the final report of the Special Committee on the Legal Needs of Children, supports legislation to provide for procedures to ensure that psychotropic medications are administered to children in the custodial care of the Department of Children and Families or in the juvenile justice system only when medically necessary and appropriate, rather than to control behavior of children who simply need mental health counseling or non-medication services.
17. Consistent with the final report of the Special Committee on the Legal Needs of Children supports the following principles concerning school discipline: schools should have strong policies against gun possession and be safe places for students to learn and develop; in cases involving alleged student misbehavior, school officials should exercise sound discretion that is consistent with principles of due process and considers the individual student and the particular circumstances of misconduct; and alternatives to expulsion or referral for prosecution should be developed that will improve student behavior and school climate without making schools dangerous.
18. Opposes, in principle, “zero tolerance” policies that have a discriminatory effect, or mandate either expulsion or referral of students to juvenile or criminal court, without regard to the circumstances or nature of the offense or the student’s history.
19. Supports modification of the statutory provisions of the Road to Independence Act to enhance and expand the transition program to provide an option for continuation of foster care to youth ages 18 through 23, and to provide reasonable accommodations for youth with disabilities.
20. Supports legislation stating that persons with any disabilities should not be deprived of any right guaranteed by law and should be free from any discrimination because of such disability.
21. Supports the repeal or amendment of 775.0837 F. S. Habitual Misdemeanor offenders to the extent that it affects Florida’s homeless population.
22. Supports legislation to reduce the use, by the state and private providers, of physical restraints on minors.
23. Supports legislation that prohibits the use of tasers on minors.
24. Supports legislation to facilitate unaccompanied, abused, neglected, or abandoned immigrant minor’s ability to access services including juvenile visas.
25. Supports legislation to require that a child have a meaningful opportunity to consult with an attorney before waiving his/her right to counsel in a delinquency proceeding.
26. Supports legislation to assure that state funding, resources and policies are directed to provide adequate housing for extremely low income persons, including persons with special needs.
27. Opposes the indiscriminate use of chains and shackles by the Department of Juvenile Justice or others in transporting children.
28. Consistent with the final Report of the Special Committee on the Legal Needs of Children, the Public Interest law Section supports legislation to restore judicial authority to determine the appropriateness of whether a child should be prosecuted in adult court.
29. Supports a foreclosure process that adequately protects homeowners’ and tenants’ rights and ensures access to due process.
30. Supports legislation that regulates the debt collection industry to ensure that consumers are not unfairly taken advantage of and are dealt with truthfully in providing any debt relief services.
31. Supports a clarifying amendment to Florida’s garnishment statute, F.S. §222.11, and any related sections to assure adequate protection to the family’s income in the garnishment process, by eliminating ambiguity in the definition of terms, including “head of household,” and clarifying time periods.
32. Supports legislation requiring unanimous jury verdicts in death penalty sentencing.
33. Supports federal and state legislation and regulations to strengthen privacy protections for personally identifiable information in the Homeless Management Information System.
34. Supports legislation adding homeless status, mental or physical disability, or advanced age of the victim to the Hate Crimes Reporting Act (F.S. §877.19) to require reporting on all protected classes under the Hate Crimes Law (F.S. §775.085).
35. Supports implementation of a death penalty moratorium in Florida pending action in response to the Board of Governor’s legislative position supporting a comprehensive review of Florida’s entire death penalty process by all branches of government, which ideally would place emphasis upon a range of concerns identified in credible research like the findings and recommendations of the American Bar Association’s Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team Report (2006) that bear upon the fairness, accuracy and impartiality of the administration thereof.
36. Supports legislation to reduce barriers to reentry and community reintegration faced by people with arrest and conviction records.
37. Supports legislation to reduce barriers to employment for people with arrest and conviction records.
38. Supports legislation to reduce barriers to securing housing for people with arrest and conviction records.
39. Supports the restoration of individuals’ civil rights to vote, eligibility to serve on a jury and hold public office upon completion of sentence for all applicable Florida felony convictions of record.
40. Opposes term limits for judges at any level of Florida’s state court system.
41. Supports legislation to promote and enhance the quality and expertise of attorneys in juvenile cases.