2021 Legislative Session Update

The 2021 Session is finished. With a total of 3,140 bills filed, the fact that only 275 bills passed reflects the impact that the pandemic had on the 2021 Session. The Legislature’s primary focus was on passing legislation that would shield health care workers, health care facilities, and all businesses from litigation that might arise due to COVID-19. Senate Bill 72 was the first bill the Legislature sent to the Governor during the Session and it creates civil liability protections for health care providers, individuals, businesses, governmental entities, and other organizations against COVID-19-related claims. Additionally, the Legislature prepared for economic challenges presented by the pandemic and expected to make across-the-board cuts. However, by the end of Session, Florida’s economy had already started to recover and additional federal recovery funds positively impacted the budget, resulting in a budget that is 10 percent larger than that passed in 2020. 

There were a number of bills and issues that were of particular importance to FABA this Session, and include:

  • CS/HB 1057 – Agency for Health Care Administration – Medical necessity determinations by BCBA-D’s – FABA supported the inclusion in statute of doctoral-level board-certified behavior analysts as able to make medical necessity determinations under Medicaid. This is an issue FABA has advocated for nearly five years as AHCA’s behavior analysis program policy has developed. We are appreciative of AHCA’s support for this change and believe it will assist in making accurate and appropriate medical necessity determinations. The bill has passed the Legislature but not yet been presented to the Governor.
  • HB 149 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools – Restraint & Seclusion – FABA has supported additional limitations on restraint and seclusion for over ten years, starting with the original restraint and seclusion legislation by Rep. Dorothy Hukill and Sen. Andy Gardiner that passed in 2010. This legislation goes a step further by revising requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint and creates a pilot program for the use of video cameras in certain classrooms. The bill requires school districts to prohibit placing a student in seclusion and provides that restraint may only be used to protect students or school personnel and not for discipline. A student may be restrained only for the time necessary to protect the student and others and only after all positive behavior interventions and supports are exhausted. The bill requires the Department of Education to publish de-identified data on reported restraint incidents on the department’s public-facing website each month. The bill also implements a pilot program for video cameras in certain classrooms in Broward County. At the written request of a parent, the school district must install a video camera and record a classroom in which a majority of the students are provided special education services. The bill has passed the Legislature but not yet been presented to the Governor.
  • HB 1401 – Applied Behavior Analysis Services – RBT & clinic exemption – Rep. Rene Plasencia was again very successful in passing the ABA bill out of the House and over to the Senate that addresses the problem of making sure RBT’s can work in the K-12 classroom setting, and the concern that non-Medicaid behavior analyst groups could be interpreted to fall under health care clinic statute. However, the Senate bill, SB 1794 by Sen. Randolph Bracy, failed to move through any of its committee. The importance of addressing the RBT issue cannot be understated as school districts have used the statute’s silence on the matter to prohibit RBTs. FABA will continue to advocate for change to the statute in the 2022 Session. 
  • $95 million has been appropriated to address the wait-list at APD. Additional funds in the budget allowed the Legislature to direct more funds toward reducing the wait-list.

 Thank you to all of our members that assisted our legislative efforts this year!

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