Rep. Gayle Harrell

MGN Online

Advocates are happy about a new law on the books slated to take effect Saturday to help protect kids within Florida’s child welfare system.

iStockphoto

Governor Rick Scott has signed the “Keys To Independence” Act into law again. Years ago, he signed the measure into law creating the pilot program. Now, Scott’s approval this week now makes the program permanent to make it easier for Florida’s foster kids obtain driver’s license.

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A bill creating a uniform procedure for law enforcement agencies when it comes to conducting eyewitness interviews is on its way to the House floor.

MGN Online

A bill building on Florida’s anti-human trafficking efforts is now heading to both the House and Senate floors.

An alligator hangs out on a rock in Everglades National Park.
Carolyn Sugg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/grace-and-peace/

When conservative Republicans rule the Legislature, environmentalists don’t get to celebrate many victories. But it was a different story Thursday when a House committee voted unanimously to approve “Legacy Florida.” 

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A bill building on reforms to help young sex trafficking victims passed its first House panel Wednesday. The so-called glitch bill seeks to prevent further victims from being charged.

Florida Channel

A bill requiring law enforcement agencies that use body cameras to have guidelines and procedures in place passed its first House committee Wednesday.

MGN Online

While some are hailing the Governor’s recent pledge to put more money into Florida’s mental health and substance abuse programs, others are calling it “long overdue.”

Florida Channel

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency as well as some state lawmakers are renewing a push towards mental health and substance abuse reform in connection with protecting kids in the state’s care.

DCF's website

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency is kicking off the annual three-day Child Protection Summit in Orlando Wednesday.

Florida Channel

Among the more than 40 bills Governor Rick Scott signed into law Thursday is a measure building on past child welfare reforms.

Florida Channel

A bill requiring law enforcement agencies to have set guidelines in place when using body cameras is now heading to the House floor. It differs from a measure creating a public records exemption for the recordings.

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer speaking to award recipient and self-advocate Amanda Baker Thursday.
Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Thursday marked Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day at the Florida Capitol, and many advocates came to Tallahassee to speak to lawmakers about their legislative priorities related to people with developmental disabilities.

MGN Online

In the coming weeks, lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill mandating law enforcers across Florida wear body cameras while on patrol. But, the measure’s sponsor says it will now look different, after recent concerns were raised during a workshop in the House earlier this week.

Florida Channel

The two high profile death incidents that occurred in recent months has already spurred a number of changes to Florida’s child welfare agency. That was part of an update two panels in the House and Senate received Thursday as part of a presentation looking at a new law overhauling the agency.

Family of Phoebe Jonchuck's Facebook

As the Florida Legislature returns next week, a bipartisan duo of lawmakers could be looking at making some more changes on top of a new law overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency. It could include changes to the state’s abuse hotline, after the recent tragic death of a five-year-old girl whose father is accused of throwing her over a bridge.

“She was my world. I truly, truly loved her,” said a tearful Michele Jonchuck. “She was an angel. She loved school. She loved to crack jokes. She liked to be helpful to the other children at school.”

AP Photo

State child welfare officials are looking into what went wrong in their handling of an investigation of a Florida man who shot himself and his family in North Florida. The Florida Department of Children and Families say they were actually investigating the man weeks before the mass shooting in Bell. So, in the wake of the deadly rampage, could lawmakers be considering another DCF legislative fix?

About a week ago, Don Spirit shot his 28-year-old daughter Sarah and her six kids ranging in age from about three months old baby to 11-years-old.

floridahealth.gov

The committee tasked with taking a broader approach to reduce preventable child abuse-related deaths is set to have its first face-to-face meeting at the end of this month, since a new child welfare law took effect last month. They had their first logistical meeting with its new members this past week.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Governor Rick Scott signed three measures into law Tuesday, including two bills looking at strengthening Florida’s human trafficking statutes. At a bill signing at the Capitol, he was joined by agency heads and a couple of state lawmakers. That included Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart), one of the bills’ authors.

“We have to make sure that we have the services that are available to individuals once they’re identified and come to our attention so that we can make sure that they will heal and they will get through this, and they will go on to become productive citizens,” said Harrell.

Nick Evans

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed four sex offender bills into law Tuesday during a public ceremony at the Capitol.  The event brought together a number of Republican lawmakers to show off the first bills passed by the Legislature.

Flanked by lawmakers, sheriffs and victims’ advocates, Scott said the package of bills will make the state safer.