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CS/SB 7026 — Public Safety

by Appropriations Committee and Rules Committee

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Rules Committee (RC)

The bill (Chapter 2018-3, L.O.F.) comprehensively addresses the crisis of gun violence, including but not limited to, gun violence on school campuses. The Legislature intends to address this crisis by providing law enforcement and the courts with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence, and by promoting school safety and enhanced coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local level.

In the area of mental health, the bill:

  • Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition in the person’s possession and to seek the voluntary surrender of other firearms or ammunition kept in the residence.
  • Provides that the firearms or ammunition seized or voluntarily surrendered must be available for return no longer than 24 hours after the person taken into custody can document that he or she is no longer subject to involuntary examination and has been released or discharged or discharged from any inpatient or involuntary outpatient treatment provided or ordered and does not have a risk protection order against them or is the subject of a firearm disability.
  • Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
  • Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from possessing firearms or ammunition when a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior.
  • Allows a court to issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months and requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order is issued.
  • Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended by the court.

The bill provides the following in the area of gun safety:

  • Requires a three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm or until the background check is completed, whichever is later.
  • Provides exceptions of the three-day waiting period for concealed weapons permit holder, and for the purchase of firearms other than handguns, an exception for:
  • Individuals who have completed a 16-hour hunter safety course and possess a hunter safety certification card;
  • Persons who are exempt from the hunter safety course requirements and hold a valid Florida hunting license; or
  • Law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and servicemembers.
  • Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm and a licensed firearm dealer, importer, and manufacturer, from selling a firearm, except in the case of a member of the military, or a law enforcement or correctional officer when purchasing a rifle or shotgun.
  • Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, sold, keeping for sale, offering for sale, possessing, or giving away within the state beginning October 1, 2018.

The bill improves school safety through the following provisions:

  • Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (commission) to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements. An initial report from the commission is due to the Governor and the Legislature by January 1, 2019; and the commission is scheduled to repeal on July 1, 2023.
  • Codifies the Office of Safe Schools within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) which will serve as a central repository for the best practices, training standards, and compliance regarding school safety and security.
  • Permits a sheriff to establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises. The bill allows school districts to decide whether to participate in the school guardian program if it is available in their county. A school guardian must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, 12 hours of diversity training, pass a psychological evaluation, and initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests. No teacher will be required to participate. In fact, the legislation provides that personnel that are strictly classroom teachers with no other responsibilities cannot participate, with specified exceptions. 
  • Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility.
  • Requires each district school board to:
  • Designate a school administrator who completes the required training within the specified timeframe as the school safety specialist for the district to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
  • Designate a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction. The bill requires the threat assessment team to consult with law enforcement when a student exhibits a pattern of behavior, based upon previous acts or the severity of an act that would pose a threat to school safety.
  • Formulate and prescribe policies and procedures, in consultation with the appropriate public safety agencies, for emergency drills for hostage and active shooter situations and incorporate procedures to address active shooter situations in the model emergency management and emergency preparedness procedures.
  • Requires each school safety specialist to coordinate with appropriate public safety agencies that are designated as the first responders to a school’s campus to tour such campus once every 3 years and provide recommendations related to school safety.
  • Requires the DOE to contract for the development of a Florida Safe School Assessment Tool to be used by each school district and public school in conducting security assessments to identify threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Requires the DOE to establish evidence-based youth mental health awareness and assistance training program to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of emotional disturbance, mental illness, and substance use disorders and provide such personnel with the skills to help a person who is experiencing or developing an emotional disturbance, mental health, or substance abuse problem.
  • Creates the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program to provide funding to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care.
  • Clarifies that the cost per student station does not include specified costs related to improving school safety.

The bill also:

  • Prohibits a person from making, posting, or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
  • Requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to contract for community action treatment teams to provide behavioral health and support services.
  • Requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to procure a mobile app that would allow students and the community to relay information anonymously concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent, or criminal activities or threats. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that the program be named “FortifyFL.” 

The bill includes, but is not limited to, the following appropriations for the proposals discussed above:

  • Over $69 million to the DOE to fund the mental health assistance allocation;
  • $1 million for the design and construction of a memorial honoring those who lost their lives on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • Over $25 million for replacing building 12 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  • Over $67 million for sheriff’s offices who decide to establish a school guardian program.
  • Over $97 million to aid for the safe school allocation.
  • Over $98 million to implement a grant program for improving the physical security of school buildings.
  • $400,000 for the “FortifyFL” mobile app.
  • $18.3 million to the DCF for additional mobile crisis teams to ensure reasonable access among all counties.

These provisions were approved by the Governor and take effect on March 9, 2018, unless otherwise provided.

Vote: Senate 20-18; House 67-50