Children’s Board outlines its legislative priorities listen12/05/08 Seán Kinane
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The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County provides families “with the services needed to live healthier, more productive lives,” according to its website. This morning during its annual Legislative Breakfast, the Children’s Board presented 19 priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
One priority of the Children’s Board is to allow relatives who have informal, but not legal, custody of children, to be able to access social services for the child. Amy Petrila, director of policy and advocacy at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, said that could happen if the Legislature makes just a minor change in the language of the temporary guardianship statute.
Rep. Betty Reed, a Democratic legislator from Tampa, said she supports this “kinship caregiver” revision. “That is one that’s very near and dear to my heart.”
The 19 priorities were arrived at through a community legislative summit in October when 175 citizen stakeholders broke into focus groups to choose up to two priorities in each of 11 categories.
Valerie Hubbard-Goddard is chair of the Children’s Board and said that two of the priorities involve transportation.
Another legislative priority for the Children’s Board involves changing statute to better define “zero tolerance.” Hubbard-Goddard feels that confusion surrounding the current definition leads to many schoolchildren getting arrested for minor infractions at schools and the system should use “reasonableness” instead.
Another Children’s Board priority is “to increase the cost of cigarettes by $1 per pack, estimated to generate approximately $1 billion per year in Florida.” As WMNF has reported this week, raising the cigarette tax is also a legislative priority of several other groups in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. State Representative Rich Glorioso, a Republican from Plant City, said has still not been convinced.
The Children’s Board is also asking legislators to protect the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, which is supposed to be used to support affordable housing, but lately has been raided and used for other general fund needs.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, agreed with that request and said if legislators continue to raid trust funds, they should instead be renamed “maybe funds.” But Rep. Glorioso defended the raids on the Sadowski fund.