Fla. Holocaust Memorial, Missing Persons With Special Needs Among Bills Signed Into Law

Apr 6, 2016

Credit MGN Online

The construction of the Florida Holocaust Memorial is one step closer to becoming reality. That's among 20 bills Governor Rick Scott signed into law Wednesday.

Florida Holocaust Memorial

There are five Holocaust memorials and museums across the state, but none on the state’s Capitol grounds. So, the new law would establish a memorial to commemorate the millions of Jews who died in the Holocaust and honor the survivors in Tallahassee. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs), who sponsored the measure, says it’s important.

“With having the second largest population of Holocaust survivors in the state of Florida, they are aging out,” he said. “And, as soon as there are no witnesses left to what happened, as soon as there are no people left with tattoos on their arms, what’s going to happen is people are going to try to undermine the story. And, so the only thing we can do is to try to continue to teach what happened, continue to remind people what happened. So, that history cannot be changed in our textbooks and in the teaching of our children.”

The new law takes effect July 1st.

Missing Persons with Special Needs

Making it easier for law enforcement to track missing persons with special needs is the goal of another bill Governor Scott signed into law Wednesday. It provides GPS-like devices to aid in the search-and-rescue efforts of people who may have disabilities making them prone to hide or run away, like autism or dementia. Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams has been advocating on behalf of this effort since 2014.

“There are so many different things that could hinder any investigation or any attempt to locate people with these type of disorders and we need any advantage that we can to make sure that we can get to those individuals as soon as possible and it’s just another tool in our toolbox to ensure the safety and security of all of our citizens to include the special needs world also,” he said.

In 2014, Williams led the three-day search for Leo Walker, a young boy with autism. He was later found dead in a body of water. The new law called “Project Leo” will start off as a pilot project in seven Florida counties: Alachua, Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach. If the pilot is successful, it could spread statewide.

Cohabitation Ban Repeal

There's also a new law repealing an old statute established in the 1860s, making it illegal for an unmarried couple to live together. When Governor Scott signed the bill into law Wednesday, it immediately took effect.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.