Florida Senate - 2020 (NP) SB 22 By Senator Braynon 35-00168A-20 202022__ 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 attorney fees; providing an effective date. 8 9 WHEREAS, the Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust is a 10 charitable trust under the laws of this state and is a nonprofit 11 organization under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 12 created and formed in December 2006 for the purpose of 13 encouraging civic engagement, education, and government 14 accountability, and 15 WHEREAS, the trust initiated its activities during the 16 period from 2006 to 2008 through its trustees, Calvester 17 Benjamin Anderson and Brian Pitts, in the judicial and executive 18 branches of state government by attending or appearing in public 19 meetings and privately communicating through continued 20 correspondence and by telephone to officers and employees of 21 state government, and 22 WHEREAS, by the end of the 2008 regular legislative 23 session, the trust had garnered the attention of many in the 24 Legislature by attending and appearing before numerous 25 committees and councils and through private correspondence with 26 members of those bodies on issues covering all aspects of the 27 lives of Florida residents and government, and the trust’s 28 activities were clearly recognized by both the media and 29 legislators, and 30 WHEREAS, many believed the trust and its trustees suspect 31 and had a hidden agenda and that its cause would not come to 32 fruition; and so as not to deceive, exploit, embarrass, or 33 harass officers and employees of the Legislature and the other 34 two branches of state government, precautions and maneuvers were 35 put into play to quickly defuse what seemed to be 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 and 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 2019, without wavering, the trust has 50 continued its never-ending cause that Florida should 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 less 55 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 residents of this 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. Dept. of Transp., 472 So. 2d 1170, 1172 (Fla. 1985) 70 (“. . .we agree with the Department of Transportation’s 71 assertion that a judgment in this case was not a prerequisite to 72 Gerard’s filing a claims bill in the legislature. As the First 73 District Court stated in Jetton v. Jacksonville Electric 74 Authority, 399 So. 2d 396, 397 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981) while the 75 Legislature has placed limits on recovery, ‘claimants remain 76 free to seek legislative relief bills, as they did during days 77 of complete sovereign immunity’”), or Dickinson v. Bradley, 298 78 So. 2d 352, 354 (Fla. 1974) (“. . .any claim bill is restricted 79 to less than the general public and its purpose is to discharge 80 the state’s moral obligation to any individual or other entity 81 whom or which the legislature recognizes as being entitled to 82 such. . . . The legislature may enact a claim bill for what 83 would be a tort if a private party was involved just as 84 effectively as for what would constitute a contractual debt.”), 85 NOW, THEREFORE, 86 87 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 88 89 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 90 found and declared to be true. 91 Section 2. This is solely an equitable claim, not based on 92 an existing judgment, which the Legislature believes should be 93 granted to fulfill its moral obligation to and recognition of 94 Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust for its great and hard work in 95 improving Florida government, publicly and privately. 96 Section 3. The sum of $600,000 is appropriated from the 97 General Revenue Fund to the Legislature for the relief of 98 Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust for damages, including services 99 and expenses, caused by the negligence or inaction, nonfeasance, 100 misfeasance, or malfeasance of Florida government, and its civic 101 charge on behalf of the taxpayers of this state to bring true 102 change for the good of the order and to develop good government. 103 Section 4. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw 104 a warrant in favor of Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust in the 105 sum of $600,000 upon funds of the Legislature in the State 106 Treasury and to pay the same out of such funds in the State 107 Treasury. 108 Section 5. The amount paid by the Legislature under s. 109 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under this act 110 are intended to provide the sole compensation for all present 111 and future claims arising out of the factual situation described 112 in this act which resulted in injuries and damages to Justice-2 113 Jesus Charitable Trust due to its voluminous dealings directly 114 and indirectly with the three branches of state government. The 115 total amount paid for attorney fees relating to this claim may 116 not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act. 117 Section 6. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.