Florida Senate - 2017 (NP) SB 288 By Senator Thurston 33-00032-17 2017288__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of the Justice-2-Jesus 3 Charitable Trust; providing an appropriation to 4 compensate the trust for injuries and damages 5 sustained as a result of the negligence and inaction 6 of state government; providing a limitation on the 7 payment of compensation, fees, and costs; providing an 8 effective date. 9 10 WHEREAS, the Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust is a 11 charitable trust under the laws of this state and is a nonprofit 12 organization under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 13 created and formed in December 2006 for the purpose of 14 encouraging civic engagement, education, and government 15 accountability, and 16 WHEREAS, the trust initiated its activities during 2006 to 17 2008 through its trustees, Calvester-Benjamin Anderson and Brian 18 Pitts, in the judicial and executive branches of state 19 government by attending or appearing in public meetings and 20 privately communicating through ongoing correspondence and by 21 phone to state government officers and employees, and 22 WHEREAS, by the end of the 2008 regular legislative 23 session, the trust gathered the attention of many in the 24 Legislature through attending and appearing before numerous 25 committees and councils, and through privately corresponding 26 with members of such bodies on issues covering all aspects of 27 Florida citizens and government which were clearly recognized by 28 media and legislators alike, and 29 WHEREAS, many believed the trust and its trustees were 30 suspect and had a hidden agenda, and that its cause would not 31 come to fruition; and so as not to deceive, exploit, embarrass, 32 or harass officers and employees of the Legislature and the 33 other two branches of state government, precautions and 34 maneuvers were put into play to quickly defuse what seemed to be 35 a problem, and 36 WHEREAS, year after year, despite concerns by many of the 37 trust’s lack of sincerity, it continued in all manner of 38 business with the utmost protocol and decorum with state 39 officials and employees, and as such proved to be highly 40 respectful, honorable, and an example to emulate, and 41 WHEREAS, by 2012 the trust proved itself and reached an 42 apex, receiving the approval of many government officers and 43 employees, and becoming the subject of countless news articles, 44 videos, and comments of many, whether liked or disliked, and 45 WHEREAS, the trust has gone beyond its charge of civics, 46 education, and government accountability, and with its services 47 and resources has actually assisted Florida government in its 48 processes and conduct and has brought about change, and 49 WHEREAS, from 2008 to 2016, without wavering the trust has 50 continued its never-ending cause that Florida ought to have a 51 government that the people can reach and engage with, whether it 52 be on simple or complex matters, and that the process can be 53 understood and properly and fairly applied without political 54 gamesmanship or hidden agendas, and that in fact, anything 55 lesser than this ought not be tolerated, and 56 WHEREAS, the trust has become a conscience and a unique 57 watchdog over certain nonfeasance, misfeasance, or malfeasance 58 in state government which necessitates the trust’s service to 59 the citizens of the state, and otherwise such actions and 60 conduct of state government would remain unknown, ignored, or 61 concealed, and 62 WHEREAS, the time, effort, and means to undertake what the 63 trust has accomplished cannot be fairly comprehended, and such 64 an endeavor is truly consuming and commendable, one that very 65 few would undertake or even want to comprehend, and 66 WHEREAS, the Florida Supreme Court has construed the far 67 reaching circumstances to which the Legislature may extend 68 relief to any matter under the common law of this state in 69 Gerard v. Dep’t of Transp., 472 So. 2d 1170, 1172 (Fla. 1985) 70 (“we agree with the Department of Transportation’s assertion 71 that a judgment in this case was not a prerequisite to Gerard’s 72 filing a claims bill in the legislature. As the First District 73 Court stated in Jetton v. Jacksonville Elec. Auth., 399 So. 2d 74 396, 397 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981) while the Legislature has placed 75 limits on recovery, “claimants remain free to seek legislative 76 relief bills, as they did during days of complete sovereign 77 immunity”), or Dickinson v. Bradley, 298 So. 2d 352, 354 (Fla. 78 1974) (“any claim bill is restricted to less than the general 79 public and its purpose is to discharge the state’s moral 80 obligation to any individual or other entity whom or which the 81 legislature recognizes as being entitled to such. . . . The 82 legislature may enact a claim bill for what would be a tort if a 83 private party was involved just as effectively as for what would 84 constitute a contractual debt.”), NOW, THEREFORE, 85 86 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 87 88 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 89 found and declared to be true. 90 Section 2. This is solely an equitable claim, not based on 91 an existing judgment, which the Legislature believes should be 92 granted to fulfill its moral obligation to and recognition of 93 Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust for its great and hard work in 94 improving Florida government, publicly and privately. 95 Section 3. The sum of $240,000 is appropriated from the 96 General Revenue Fund to the Legislature for the relief of 97 Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust for damages, including services 98 and expenses, caused by the negligence or inaction, nonfeasance, 99 misfeasance, or malfeasance of Florida government, and its civic 100 charge on behalf of the taxpayers of this state to bring true 101 change for the good of the order and to develop good government. 102 Section 4. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 103 a warrant in favor of Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust in the 104 sum of $240,000 upon funds of the Legislature in the State 105 Treasury and to pay the same out of such funds in the State 106 Treasury. 107 Section 5. The amount paid by the Legislature under s. 108 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under this act 109 are intended to provide the sole compensation for all present 110 and future claims arising out of the factual situation described 111 in this act which resulted in injuries and damages to Justice-2 112 Jesus Charitable Trust due to its voluminous dealings directly 113 and indirectly with the three branches of state government. The 114 total amount paid for attorney fees, lobbying fees, costs, and 115 similar expenses relating to this claim may not exceed 25 116 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 117 Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.