In January of this year, many Floridians watched their legislature closely to see if they would tackle two pressing issues in the state: mental health and domestic violence.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission has consistently urged state legislators to increase funding for the Florida mental health system. A 2019 article published by News-Press calls it a crisis without end, reporting that Florida “ranks last among states in per-person spending for mental health services,” spending only about $36 per person.
Many legislators have attempted to improve various aspects of the mental health system, as evidenced by the following proposed legislation. Unfortunately, all of these proposals died in committee. We provide an overview of these proposals below.
SB 228 Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act
- SB 228 would have prevented the Department of Corrections or local governments from keeping young prisoners in solitary confinement, except under specific circumstances. It would also have provided individualized suicide intervention plans for youth when warranted and required jails and detention centers to review their policies relating to youth prisoners.
SB 228 failed to proceed past the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 14, 2020.
HB 499 Domestic Violence
- HB 499 would have prohibited individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms or ammunition and would have required them to surrender any firearms and ammunition they already owned.
HB 499 failed to proceed past the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 14, 2020.
HB 117 Concealed Weapons or Concealed Firearms Licensing
- HB 117 was another proposed bill related to firearms. It would have required applicants for a concealed weapons license to have undergone a mental health evaluation and have a letter signed by a specified professional attesting to their mental competency.
HB 117 failed to proceed past the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 14, 2020.
CS/SB 870 Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- CS/SB 870 would have required that respondents in court cases with a serious mental illness understand their recovery options and be assisted in accessing a continuum of care program.
CS/SB 870 failed to proceed past the Judiciary Committee.
CS/SB 1062 Involuntary Examinations of Minors
- CS/SB 1062 focused on children and adolescents, and at what point they could be subjected to involuntary examination during a crisis situation. The bill revised requirements for the notification of a parent or guardian before the involuntary examination of a minor. It also required that mental and behavioral health providers first attempt to de-escalate a volatile situation before subjecting the minor to an involuntary examination.
CS/SB 1062 failed to proceed past the Education Committee.
- Governor DeSantis did receive approval in his 2020 budget for $9 million to expand school-based mental health services to 107 schools, and $3 million to support community-based residential mental health facilities. The Governor also received approval for funds to replace expiring federal aid for street outreach to people experiencing homelessness.
Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.