Live Oak — Tallahassee —
Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bills 522, 524, 526 and 528, which substantially strengthen protections against sex offenders. Protecting Florida’s most vulnerable from sexual offenders is a joint priority during the 2014 Legislative Session for Florida Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), who both attended the bill signing ceremony.
“With the stroke of Governor Scott’s pen, our state today sent a strong message – Florida is scorched earth for all those seeking to harm our children,” said President Gaetz. “This bill takes historic steps to better protect the most vulnerable among us. Now prosecutors, police, parents and communities will have the tools to effectively investigate and prosecute sexual offenders, making it less likely these vicious criminals have the opportunity to slip through the side door and reoffend.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Senators Bradley, Evers, Grimsley and Sobel, as well as our counterparts in the House and Governor’s office, Florida will be a safer, more secure place for families to call home.”
To date three of the five Work Plan 2014 agenda items have passed the Senate and House. Governor Scott signed the Florida GI Bill into law on Monday and is expected to sign a nearly $400 million recurring reduction in vehicle registration fees later this week.
Increasing Protections Against Sex Offenders
Senate Bill 522 by Senator Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) creates an “arrest notification program” to notify DCF when an offender, previously held at the Florida Civil Commitment Center, is arrested and convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony. The bill further requires the state attorney to refer the rearrested offender for civil commitment. The legislation also allows members of the multidisciplinary team that currently evaluate offenders considered for civil commitment to consult with a state attorney, a law enforcement officer, and victim’s advocate. Additionally, SB 522 expands requirements for DCF release notifications to include the sheriff of the county in which the offender intends to reside as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.