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FSA’s Legislative Recap: 2024 Session 

March 29, 2024
Florida Capitol with the text "FSA's 2024 Legislative Recap"

One of the Florida Sheriffs Association’s primary roles and responsibilities is to support and monitor legislation that ensures public safety in Florida.  Both during the legislative session and throughout the year, FSA’s legislative team is actively working with lawmakers to ensure that bills are introduced and passed that are in the best interests of Florida citizens and protect the ability of Florida law enforcement to keep communities safe.  

Here are the highlights and successes of this year’s legislative session and how they will impact the field of law enforcement in Florida and the safety of our citizens.  

FSA Priority: Juvenile Justice (HB 1181, SB 1274)

This comprehensive legislation was developed alongside a host of stakeholders that will hold juveniles who possess or use a firearm for longer periods of time and bolster the juvenile justice system with more options to address the most serious crimes.  

Recent events where juveniles were in possession of or used a firearm require time and deliberation to determine the best course of action. Juveniles charged with a firearm offense must remain in secure detention until they see a judge.  

Statues should also be revised to make certain that for violent and gun-related crimes the presumption is to hold the juvenile in secure detention and to then allow a judge to depart from this with written findings. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case before and it put the onus on the judge to submit findings in writing if they believe the juvenile should remain in secure detention. 

FSA Priority: Reemployment Post Retirement (HB 151)

The Florida Sheriffs Association strongly supported HB 151 by Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera and Senator Danny Burgess.  The legislation will allow all Florida Retirement System (FRS) Pension Plan members, including sworn law enforcement and correctional officers to return to FRS employment after six calendar months of becoming a Pension Plan retiree without restrictions or interruption of Pension Plan benefits.   

Current law made retirees wait more than a year to return to work at an FRS employer.  This change will greatly assist sheriffs in being able to bring back experienced personnel sooner and keep staffing levels up. 

FSA Priority: School Safety (HB 1473)

Protecting children, especially while they are at school, will remain a top legislative priority for sheriffs.  It is unfortunate that legislation was necessary, but too many schools were leaving doors and gates unlocked during school hours.    

HB 1473 by Representative Dana Trabulsy and Senator Alexis Calatayud amended state law to establish new perimeter and door safety requirements that school districts and charter school governing boards must comply with by August 1, 2024. These requirements include keeping routes of ingress and egress securely closed and locked when students are on campus.  Each school district is now required to develop a progressive discipline policy for instructional and administrative personal who knowingly violate school safety requirements.  

HB 1473 also clarifies that private schools seeking to participate in the guardian program are responsible for costs associated with background screening in addition to costs associated with training.  The sheriff providing training for the participating private school can waive costs related to training and background screening.  It also allows an individual certified under, and in good standing with, the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, and who is otherwise qualified to serve as a guardian, to be exempt from the required school guardian training.   

The legislation further requires a sheriff’s office that certifies individuals to serve as school guardians to report information related to the certification and appointment of school guardians to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) within 30 days of such certification.  Each sheriff must also make a one-time report, by September 1, 2024, of every individual previously certified as a school guardian by the sheriff. The required reports must include the name, date of birth, and certification date of the guardian.  Additionally, each sheriff must also submit the schedule for upcoming guardian trainings to the FDLE on a quarterly basis. 

Additional Wins 

Additional bills supported by the FSA this legislative session that were successfully passed include: 

Retail Theft/Combating Porch Pirates:  

HB 549 by Representative Bob Rommel and Senator Jay Trumbull will make it a third-degree felony for an individual who joins five or more people in retail theft, a second degree if the same group encourages others to join in through social media, and a first-degree felony for any repeat offenders who have already been convicted of the same crime within a one-year period.  Under the bill, the punishment for criminals who steal delivery packages from private properties will be a felony if the package is valued at or above $40.  Currently, the law enforces punishments of a felony if the product is valued at $100 or above.  

Citizen Review Boards:  

HB 601 by Representative Wyman Duggan and Senator Blaise Ingolia clarifies that a sheriff can have a civilian oversight board to review policies and procedures.  Under the bill, civilian oversight boards will now be prohibited, but like sheriffs, a city could have a civilian board to review a police department’s policies and procedures.  The bill also includes an increase to the base salary portion of the formula used to calculate the salary of sheriffs, by $5,000 beginning July 1, 2024.  

Sheriffs’ Budgets:  

SB 1704 by Senator Clay Yarborough and Representative Wyman Duggan specifies that a sheriff in a consolidated government (Jacksonville) may transfer funds between the fund and functional categories and object and sub-object code levels after the budget has been approved.  This is something the other 66 sheriffs had the ability to do because of HB 3 passed during the 2022 legislative session. It also revises the provisions concerning the independence of sheriffs to include procurement, which is applicable to all sheriffs, including sheriffs in a consolidated government. 

State Budget Updates 

The FSA is also pleased to report positive outcomes for law enforcement related to the state budget, which was a record $117 billion this year. First, all state employees will receive a 3% pay increase, not just those in law enforcement. 

Second, the Department of Commerce will once again receive $17 million for the law enforcement recruitment bonus program.  This program has been highly successful and pays new hires made by sheriffs and police departments in the amount of $5,000 each. 

Florida’s hometown hero program will receive $100 million again this year. This program assists first responders, teachers and others with first-time home ownership.  

Finally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will receive $2 million to purchase body armor bulletproof vests for local law enforcement.  

Get Involved with FSA 

While there were many wins in this year’s session for law enforcement in Florida, there is always more important work to be done, and the legislative process is most effective when everyone participates. Wondering how you can get involved? You can: 

You can learn more about FSA’s legislative work here.