This year, AARP Florida showed up as a wise friend and fierce defender during legislative session, advocating on topics that matter most to the 50+ in the Sunshine State. AARP emerged from the session with big wins across the board, from enhanced long-term care systems to broadened housing options. These wins can be attributed to a new approach taken by the advocacy team. During the first six weeks of the session, we were joined by nearly 40 volunteers from across the state in the Tallahassee office. These volunteers were seen walking the halls of the state capitol, meeting with legislators, testifying in committee meetings and taking a stance on critical issues on behalf of older adults.
AARP Florida focused advocacy efforts on enhancing the quality and oversight long-term care systems, expanding elder abuse protections, protecting the financial wellbeing of consumers, and expanding affordable housing options.
Long term care enhancements were made with the passing of SB 558 and HB 351, Certified Nursing Assistants, creates a new professional designation of Qualified Medication Aides (QMA) for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) with at least one year of prior experience who meet specified licensure and training requirements. QMA’s will be permitted to administer routine medications to nursing center residents under the supervision of a registered nurse. This will allow registered nurses to focus on higher-level tasks and improve quality of care for patients.
Separately, SB 1304 and HB 1029, Claims Against Long-Term Care Facilities, never had a hearing. This legislation would have made it harder to sue nursing homes and other long-term care facilities after the death of a resident. This bill posed a huge risk to older adults in nursing homes and would have eroded long-term care residents’ rights, if successful.
Elder Abuse Protections
In addition to enhancing long-term care, elder abuse protections were also expanded. SB 1540 and HB 1567, Elder Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Fatality Review Teams, expands the scope and authority of existing teams under existing statute for local agencies to create teams focused on reviewing fatal cases of elder and vulnerable adult abuse in order to identify and recommend policies to prevent future deaths. These bills were accompanied by SB 1542 and HB 1569, which creates public records exceptions and additional protections for confidential victim and case-related information.
SB 232 and HB 603, Exploitation of Vulnerable Persons, creates a new way to prosecute crimes of exploitation committed against adults aged 65 and older without consideration of the victim’s physical or mental capabilities. Until now Florida’s criminal exploitation laws have only applied to cases involving victims with disabilities or age-related vulnerabilities.
With continued increasing costs of living, housing was front of mind for AARP Florida, as well as elected officials. The Live Local Act (SB 102/HB 627) is the largest investment ever in affordable and workforce housing in our state’s history. People of all ages and capabilities deserve adequate, safe, and affordable housing options that will enable them to remain in their communities as they age.
Additionally, SB 770 and HB 861, Residential Loan Alternative Agreements, will protect consumers and homeowners from the predatory practice of filing unfair real estate fee agreements in property records, known as Non-Title Record Agreements for Personal Service (NTRAPS). The purchase of a home is often the most important investment a person will make, and this legislation will provide additional safeguards to ensure this investment is protected against predatory business practices like NTRAPS.
We’re proud to have so many victories to celebrate, but it’s our volunteers that I want to recognize. Their dedication to making life better for all is making a huge difference; without them, we couldn’t succeed in making life better for all.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, learn more and apply here. There are positions for advocacy volunteers, Livable Community Ambassadors, and even Community Educators.
For more information on legislative session, take a look at our 2023 Voting Record. We’ve included how your elected officials voted on issues impacting older adults, and an overview of the AARP Florida legislative priorities.
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