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Session Update: Week 2
Contact Information
Office Locations
District:
8383 Seminole Boulevard
Suite B
Seminole, FL 33772
727-395-2512
  
Capitol:
222 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
850-717-5066
Staff
District Secretary
 
Legislative Assistant
  
My 2017 Bills
Requires the automatic expunction of certain nonjudicial records of arrests of minors after the completion of certain diversion programs.  
  
Reduces the sales tax paid on commercial leases incrementally until it's eliminated over a specified number of years.   

Authorizes a matching grant program for local governments to implement flood hazard risk mitigation policies and projects.
 

HB 953- Legislative Redistricting and Congressional Reapportionment 

Requires court to provide for expedited hearing & ruling in challenge to state legislative or congressional district boundaries.

 

HB 955 - High School Graduation Requirements  

Revises requirements for NGSSS to include financial literacy. Revises credits for standard high school diploma to include instruction in personal financial literacy and money management.   


 

HB 1365 - Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program
Creates the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program within the Department of Education.

  

CS/HB 1441 - Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board 

Revises composition of the board.

  

Committee Passes Bill Encouraging Self-Sufficiency 
The Appropriations Committee passed an important pro-family bill: HB 581. The bill changes two programs to encourage families to be self-sufficient.
 
First, the bill ends a change made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, in 2010 during the devastating economic downturn. That change helped more people qualify for food assistance in that tough time. Now, about 3.3 million Floridians are on SNAP. Fortunately, our economy has improved since then - for example, the state's unemployment rate fell from 11.4% to 4.9%. Under the bill, as of January 1, 2018, the state will revert to the federal minimum eligibility level instead of the outdated state 2010 level.
 
Second, the bill creates better workforce programs so individuals on temporary cash assistance can find work to support their families. Some cash assistance recipients have problems that make it difficult for them to obtain and keep jobs. Under the bill, at least three regional workforce boards must create workforce programs using new techniques that work well for cash assistance recipients to help them become "work ready."
 
Encouraging families to be self-sufficient is something we can all get behind and that's exactly what this bill would do. The bill preserves SNAP as a safety-net for those most in need while enhancing our workforce system to better serve those with significant barriers to employment. 
 
March 20, 2017

Dear Friends,
  
Last week we finished our second week of the 2017 Legislative Session. During this week a number of bills were heard and passed in House Committees. We will continue to hear member bills, proposed committee bills, and appropriation project bills during the first few weeks of Session.

Throughout Session, I will continue to keep you up-to-date with periodic newsletters letting you know about bills under consideration and any new laws that are passed. As always, thank you for your confidence in my service to District 66. It is an honor and a privilege to be your voice in Tallahassee.

In Your Service,
  Rep. Sig 3
Larry Ahern
 
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Visiting with a group of Veterinarians from Pinellas during their day in Tallahassee.
 

Subcommittee Passes "Fewer, Better Tests" 
  
 
Last week the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee passed HB 773 to overhaul how schools administer standardized tests in our state.
 
Florida's current testing season begins at the end of February and ends in mid-May. The current testing schedule interrupts too many classes and unfairly tests students before they have had a chance to be taught a years' worth of lessons.
 
HB 773 fixes this problem by moving testing to the end of the school year, giving teachers more time to teach. It also minimizes disruption to students and school schedules by shortening the testing window from nine weeks to three weeks with the exception of the third grade reading assessment.
 
Additionally, the bill requires local district assessment results to be provided to teachers within one week of administration. This will help teachers better instruct our children by returning the results of the students' test scores in a timely manner. This could also reduce the amount of tests that are administered by local school districts.
 
The bill also ensures that parents will be more informed about their child's progress with an easy to understand, user friendly score report that will include: a clear explanation of a student's areas of strength and areas for improvement; specific actions and resources to assist parents; and information comparing the student's score to all students in the district, state, or other states. This would empower parents to be more involved with their child's educational needs.
 
 
Free Market Health Care Reforms Ready for House Floor 
  
The Health & Human Services Committee passed four important free market health care reform bills, which all would help increase access to quality and affordable health care for Floridians: HB 145; HB 161; HB 375; and HB 589.
 
HB 145 expands the use of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and allows recovery care centers (RCCs) in the state. ASCs are non-hospital facilities that provide surgical care. ASCs have highly skilled staff and surgeons and are less expensive and more convenient than having surgery in a hospital. RCCs provide post-surgical and post-diagnostic, short-term medical and nursing care, support, and pain control for patients that do not require hospitalization. RCCs exist in some states, but not Florida.
 
HB 161 helps expand the use of direct primary care (DPC) in Florida by preventing DPC agreements from being regulated like insurance. DPC is a medical practice model that eliminates third party payers from the doctor-patient relationship. By contract, a patient or employer pays a monthly fee to the primary care provider for defined services. After paying the fee, a patient can use all services in the agreement at no extra charge. One of the most critical problems in healthcare is out of control and unjustifiable costs. Innovations like DPC cut costs by eliminating the administrative hassles of the third-party payer system. 

HB 375 requires all Florida hospitals and ASCs to complete and publish patient culture surveys. A "patient safety culture survey" is a survey which asks employees about patient safety and quality of care. The surveys help hospitals identify and fix problems. If published, the survey data can also help Floridians make decisions about which facilities are best for their own care and that of their families.
 
HB 589 doubles the number of drugs listed on MyFloridaRx.com, which is Florida's prescription drug pricing website. The website currently includes 150 of the most commonly prescribed brand name drugs and associated generic equivalents and allows patients to compare prices of the drugs by location. Floridians can search the website by county, city, and drug. More information provided to the public through MyFloridaRx.com will allow Floridians to make cost-effective choices for themselves and their families. Ultimately, drug price transparency empowers patients and lowers the costs of drugs by encouraging competition.


House Committee Passes Proposed Amendment to Give the House the Authority to Impeach State Attorneys and Public Defenders 
  

Last week the Public Integrity & Ethics Committee heard a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed will place on the next general election ballot the expansion of impeachment powers by the Legislature. If voters pass this proposal, it will give the Legislature the ability to impeach state attorneys and public defenders who violate Florida's laws. Currently, only the Governor may suspend these officers for misconduct. Impeachment is the historic method of recalling public officers in our constitutional system.
 
The Florida House is committed to bringing unprecedented accountability to all levels of government, and this proposal is a strong step toward that goal.
 
Community Events

Seminole

Seminole Stampede 

5K & 1 Mile Run

Sat. - March 25th

8AM

 

Indian Rocks Beach

10th Annual 

GREENFEST

Sat. - March 25th

10AM - 5PM

More Information

 

Insurance & Banking Subcommittee Rolls out Workers' Compensation Bill 
After recent court rulings found parts of Florida's workers' compensation law unconstitutional, the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee spent significant time drafting and passing a comprehensive bill on the issue. Through the many changes made, the goal of the bill is to ensure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker's return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer.
 
First, the bill addresses issues involving attorney fees by keeping the current attorney fee structure, but allowing for changes in specific circumstances. Currently, the fee structure is percentage based, where attorneys are paid by the insurer a percentage of the amount of money they obtain for their client. However, in some cases, the potential amount of money is too low to fairly compensate an attorney for their time. Courts determined that the fee structure was preventing injured workers from obtaining representation and getting their day in court. In doing so, the courts found that an hourly fee structure was required when the statutory fee structure results in a fee that is too low. To address this outcome, the bill allows for hourly attorney fees only in certain circumstances and it limits the total amount that the insurer may be forced to pay in those circumstances to $250 per hour.
 
Second, the bill addresses the rights of injured workers. Under the legislation, injured workers are now able to pay for their own attorney, which was previously prohibited.
 
Third, the bill addresses temporary wage replacement benefits by increasing temporary wage replacement benefits from 104 weeks to 260 weeks and filling the gap between temporary and permanent wage replacement benefits for certain injured workers. These changes will help injured workers receive uninterrupted benefits when transitioning between temporary and permanent wage replacement benefits.

Fourth, the bill increases opportunities for competition by allowing insurers to decrease premiums by a uniform percentage not to exceed five percent. Giving insurers the opportunity to offer lower premiums creates competition that benefits the consumer, which previously was not an option without burdensome regulatory filings.
 
Lastly, the bill addresses things that affect costs. For example, the bill would: control incentives for attorney involvement; require the collection of additional data on the cost of attorneys on both sides; and require insurers to authorize or deny medical authorization requests, unless there are incomplete or missing forms or documentation.
 
  
Florida House of Representatives | | larry.ahern@myfloridahouse.gov | http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4505&SessionId=66
8383 Seminole Boulevard
Suite B
Seminole, FL 33772
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Florida House of Representatives, 8383 Seminole Boulevard, Suite B, Seminole, FL 33772

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