Parasail Bill, Measure Helping Foster Kids Get Driver Licenses Head To Governor

May 2, 2014

A bill regulating Florida’s parasailing industry and another helping foster kids obtain driver's licenses are among the measures now heading to Governor Rick Scott.

Parasail Bill

The measure—which never had a hearing for several years—got one this year, following a parasailing accident that happened in Senate President Don Gaetz’ district and received national attention.

U.S. Coast Guard authorities determined high winds and bad weather caused the serious injuries of two Indiana teens, who were parasailing in Panama City last year.  Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed (D-Deerfield Beach) says her bill is very important and will help prevent needless injuries and tragedies.

“The bill prohibits commercial parasailing under certain weather conditions. The bill requires that the vessel operator have licensure from the United State Coast Guard appropriate for the number of passengers and the displacement of the vessel,” said Clarke-Reed.

The measure also requires parasail operators to carry the minimum amount of insurance of $1 million. The bill’s Senate sponsor is Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach), who brought the effort forward at the urging of the mayor of Pompano Beach, where two deaths related to the unregulated water sport occurred years ago.

“Keys to Independence” bill

A bill aiming to make getting a driver’s license easier for foster kids is now heading to the Governor, after it passed the Florida Legislature Friday.

A low percentage of kids, under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, who are eligible to drive learn how to by the time they’re 18-years-old, and Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) says her bill will fix that.

“The bill seeks to create a statewide pilot program to pay the cost of driver’s education, licensure, and insurance for foster children who meet certain qualifications. The bill requires DCF to contract with a qualified not-for-profit in order to operate and develop procedures for the program. The bill provides preferential enrollment in driver education for specified children in the department’s care,” said Detert.

The measure is expected to cost about $800,000. Detert has sponsored such efforts before to help foster children, including the so-called Normalcy bill, which allows foster kids to do every-day activities, like having a sleepover, without court approval.

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