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March 27, 2002

Senate Bill 88: The "Government Nanny" Bill

Author:
Senator Ken Pruitt

Summary:
Last year, we fought and defeated Senate Bill 1018, the "Government Nanny" bill. Thousands of calls and e-mails from concerned home schoolers and other parents persuaded Governor Jeb Bush to veto the bill.

But the measure is back this year as Senate Bill 88. Just like the old bill, it creates a new big government program called "Learning Gateway" and will involve "developing strategies for offering hospital visits or home visits by trained staff to new mothers."

S.B. 88, the Senate version of H.B. 1435, creates a new big government program called " Learning Gateway" and will involve "developing strategies for offering hospital visits or home visits by trained staff to new mothers."

Upset by the defeat of H.B. 1435, Senate Majority Leader John McKay has pushed S.B. 88 into a fast track. He has pulled it from committee and sent it directly to the floor by "special order."

The purpose of S.B. 88 is to "screen" children from birth to age 9 for "biological, environmental, and behavioral risks," and "learning problems." Furthermore, Learning Gateway providers will conduct "intake with families," conduct "needs/strength-based assessments of families," and "make referrals for needed services" and "developmental monitoring."

This will all be done in "collaboration" with the Florida Department of Children and Family Services and numerous other big government agencies and programs.

Status:
With the end of the legislative session on March 22, 2002, Senate Bills 86 and 88 have died in the House Council for Lifelong Learning. These bills will not be considered by the Legislature again this year.

Action Requested:
None.

Background:

S.B. 86, the Senate version of H.B. 1435, creates a new big government program called "Learning Gateway" and will involve "developing strategies for offering hospital visits or home visits by trained staff to new mothers."

Echoing objections expressed by grassroots opposition as well as HSLDA, the House Council for Lifelong Learning published on the Florida House website an analysis of why H.B. 1435 was voted down: "This bill is intrusive, weakens private parental decision-making, and is the antithesis of the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and family empowerment."

"While [H.B. 1435] adds language relating to parental consent, it also adds the authorization to obtain numerous educational and other confidential records without parental consent.

"The bill provides for duplication of services already available. This bill may have constitutional problems. This bill conflicts with and duplicates recent legislative policy decisions and laws. This bill could lead to lawsuits against the state."

Upset by the defeat of H.B. 1435, Senate Majority Leader John McKay pushed S.B. 86 into a fast track. Pulling the bill from committee, Mr. McKay sent it directly to the floor by "special order." The S.B. 86 and 88 package passed in the Senate March 6, 2002. The purpose of S.B. 86 and 88 is to "screen" children from birth to age 9 for "biological, environmental, and behavioral risks," and "learning problems." Furthermore, Learning Gateway will conduct "intake with families," "needs/strength-based assessments," "make referrals for needed services," and "developmental monitoring."

This will all be done in "collaboration" with the Florida Department of Children and Family Services and numerous other big government agencies and programs.

Home School Legal Defense Association also opposes S.B. 86 and 88 because:

  1. S.B. 86 and 88 mandate automatic referrals of high-risk newborns to the local Learning Gateway through the Office of Vital Statistics. Who determines what is considered "high risk"? There is no parental consent required for this referral. What happens if the parent chooses not to follow up on this referral?

  2. S.B. 86 and 88 direct that screening processes be developed and tested to address social/emotional/behavioral indicators which could be signs of future problems. Will the Florida Department of Children and Families take the child away if the parent chooses to follow his own doctor's advice instead of the government's?

  3. S.B. 86 and 88 require that an electronic data system be developed to track children who are screened, assessed, and referred for services. Will parents be able to remove the child from the government programs once the initial screening is done without their consent?

  4. S.B. 86 and 88 create a huge, expensive bureaucracy, with the intent of expanding the program statewide. The pilot project is $6 million the first year for only three counties---what will it cost taxpayers to fund this program for the whole state?

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA opposes S.B. 86 & 88.

 Other Resources

3/14/2002 Florida--"Government Nanny" Legislation Refuses to Die

2/28/2002 Florida--"Government Nanny" Resurrected in the Florida Senate

Bill Text

Bill History