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A number of bills of interest to the profession sent to the governor, including the rewrite of the Baker and Marchman acts

Senior Editor Top Stories

Old CapitolGov. Ron DeSantis will soon decide the fate of a $50 million proposal to reform Florida’s Baker and Marchman acts, the laws that govern the involuntary commitment of people with mental health and substance use disorders.

HB 7021, by Republican Rep. Patt Maney, a retired judge from Shalimar, was among 24 bills lawmakers forwarded to the Executive Office of the Governor late last week.

DeSantis has until June 22 to act, or the measures become law without his signature.

In addition to investing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into enhancing the system, the measure calls for substantive reforms.

For example, HB 7021 would, among other things, lift a cap on the number of beds in crisis stabilization units, give police more discretion not to detain suspects for psychiatric evaluations, and create an “Office of Children’s Behavioral Health Ombudsman” in the Department of Children and Families.

Other provisions would streamline the intake process and make it easier for minors to obtain treatment, Maney said.

Lawmakers also forwarded to DeSantis HB 1021, a proposal by Rep. Vicki Lopez, R-Coral Gables, and Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Fleming Island attorney.

The measure would continue reforms lawmakers enacted in the wake of the Champlain Towers South collapse that killed 98 Surfside residents in 2021.

Lawmakers moved quickly after the tragedy to beef up structural inspections. But in November, a Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section representative, a veteran Miami-Dade prosecutor, and a former Florida condominium ombudsman told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee that condominium associations need to be reined in.

Chapter 718, which governs condo associations, should give the state Division of Condominiums, Mobile Homes, and Timeshares more authority to initiate investigations, warned Tallahassee attorney Pete Dunbar, testifying on behalf of the RPPTL section.

Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney John Perikles said his superiors were forced to beef up the Economic Crimes Division to address a flood of complaints from condo residents.

Chapter 718 doesn’t go far enough to help condo residents obtain records from their associations, and it doesn’t address kickbacks from contractors, a common way corrupt board members enrich themselves, Perikles said.

Another measure lawmakers forwarded to DeSantis — HB 73 — would require judges to consider supported decisionmaking as an alternative to guardianship for people with developmental disabilities.

Crafted with the help of the Elder Law Section, the proposal is sponsored by Republican Rep. Corey Simon and Democratic Sen. Allison Tant, both of Tallahassee.

“Florida residents with disabilities deserve respect and robust legal safeguards while maintaining as much independence as possible,” said Elder Law Section Chair Victoria Heuler, a Tallahassee attorney.

The bill defines “supported decisionmaking” as “an agreement in which the power of attorney grants an agent the authority to receive information and to communicate on behalf of the principal in any subject matter.”

The bill language makes is clear that supported decisionmaking is “not a durable power of attorney.”

If they become law, HB 7021, HB 1021, and HB 73 would take effect July 1.

 

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