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Sheriffs Back to Work with Early Florida Legislative Session 

December 29, 2023

Two hundred fifty days. That is how long it will have been between closing the books on the 2023 legislative session and the first day of the 2024 legislative session on January 9.  With an early start to session this year, it seems like the FSA just completed one set of public safety priorities and are now right back with another new set of ideas to continue focusing on the safety of Floridians and visitors. 

Sheriffs spent the summer months working with state and local partners on implementing numerous new pieces of legislation.  It was a busy and productive time, but the team is now ready to recommit to another successful year of legislative work.  

First, sheriffs had to postpone their 2024 Legislative Summit at Lake Mary after Hurricane Idalia hit the Big Bend area.  The summit was eventually held at FSA’s headquarters in Tallahassee in mid-October and more than 30 sheriffs attended, with more than 40 sheriffs’ offices represented.  Sheriffs had a long list of ideas to discuss, but ultimately voted in favor of making four key issues their priorities for the 2024 legislative session.    

Here's what you need to know about the FSA’s priorities for the 2024 Florida legislative session. 

Reducing Juvenile Crime (SB 1274 & HB 1181) 

The Florida Sheriffs Association will be working with a host of stakeholders on a comprehensive piece of legislation that will hold juveniles for longer periods of time if they possess or use a firearm. It will also bolster the juvenile justice system with more options to address the most serious crimes.  

Events in which juveniles are 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 ensure 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 today and it puts the onus on the judge to submit findings in writing if they believe the juvenile should remain in secure detention.  

This important piece of legislation will continue to be worked on and refined throughout the legislative process, and sheriffs look forward to finding balance where juveniles are offered chances at rehabilitation while also keeping our communities safe from violent acts.  

Combating Sex Offenders: Luring or Enticing a Child (SB 1196 & HB 1129) 

The Florida Sheriffs Association will be supporting legislation that will amend state law to increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for an adult who intentionally lures or entices, or attempts to lure or entice, a child under the age of 12.  Currently, an adult who intentionally lures or entices a child, or attempts to lure or entice a child, other than for a lawful purpose into their vehicle or dwelling can only be charged with a misdemeanor under Florida law if it is their first offense of this nature.   

Law enforcement continues to see examples of adults who attempt to lure and entice young children into their vehicles with the clear intent of kidnapping these children and performing unspeakable acts upon them. Unfortunately, in many instances, unless the perpetrator has already been charged with the crime, the only charge that can be brought against the perpetrator is a misdemeanor for attempting to lure or entice a child.    

This legislation will also increase the criminal penalties for repeat offenders. This legislation will make an important change to current law to bring greater uniformity to the law used to protect Florida’s children and ensure that these dangerous predators are held accountable from the start. 

Multi-Billion Dollar Opioid Settlement and First Responder Mental Heath  

In 2023, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody concluded Florida’s opioid-related litigation by entering into settlement agreements with several manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers (pharmacies) of opioids. The state of Florida, counties and certain cities will receive approximately $3.1 billion over the next 17 years.  The state fund will receive 45% of the settlement funds and it will increase over time to 55% of the settlement.    

Last year, the Legislature created the Opioid Settlement Trust Fund in the Department of Children and Families.  Sheriffs will work this year to ensure a portion of these state settlement funds are allocated for the wellness and support service for first responders who experience trauma associated with opioid-related emergency events.  This action is allowable under the settlement agreement entered into by the state and will greatly assist law enforcement agencies as they cope with mental health issues.    

Reemployment Post-Retirement (SB 400 & HB 853) 

Sheriffs are continuing to experience staffing shortages and issues with recruitment and retention. Currently, returning to work or providing services to a Florida Retirement System (FRS) employer requires a 12-calendar month waiting period, with a few exceptions. Returning to FRS employment within 12 calendar months of becoming a Pension Plan retiree may have significant financial consequences and require the employee to repay retirement benefits.  

The Florida Sheriffs Association will be supporting legislation that would allow all FRS Pension Plan members, including sworn law enforcement and correctional officers, to return to FRS employment within six calendar months of becoming a Pension Plan retiree without restrictions or interruption of Pension Plan benefits.  This change in law will assist sheriffs in bringing back experienced personnel sooner and keep staffing levels up.  

Stay Informed with the FSA 

For more information on the FSA legislative program and to stay up-to-date on all legislative issues, please visit: dev.flsheriffs.org/legislative. In addition, you can follow all the legislative action each week by listening to FSAcast, FSA’s podcast, during session.