Florida Senate - 2021                                     SB 222
       By Senator Cruz
       18-00321-21                                            2021222__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to abandoned cemeteries; creating the
    3         Task Force on Abandoned African-American Cemeteries;
    4         specifying the purpose of the task force; requiring
    5         the Department of State to provide administrative and
    6         staff support; specifying the composition of the task
    7         force; providing meeting requirements; prescribing
    8         duties of the task force; requiring the task force to
    9         submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature by
   10         a specified date; providing for expiration of the task
   11         force; requiring the department to partner with
   12         specified entities to undertake an investigation of
   13         the former Zion Cemetery site; specifying custody of
   14         certain historical resources, records, archives,
   15         artifacts, research, and medical records; requiring
   16         the department to contract with the University of
   17         South Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical
   18         University for the identification and location of
   19         eligible next of kin; requiring the universities to
   20         provide certain information regarding descendants to
   21         the department by a specified date; directing the
   22         Division of Historical Resources of the department to
   23         ensure the listing of certain cemeteries in the
   24         Florida Master Site File; requiring the division to
   25         seek placement of historical markers at certain
   26         abandoned cemeteries, subject to certain limitations;
   27         authorizing certain persons and organizations to
   28         assist the division in researching the history of such
   29         cemeteries; specifying that costs associated with the
   30         creation and placement of such historical markers be
   31         borne by the division; requiring the department to
   32         create, place, and maintain memorials at certain
   33         sites; providing an effective date.
   35         WHEREAS, until the conclusion of the Civil War, millions of
   36  African Americans in the United States, including Florida, were
   37  enslaved, and
   38         WHEREAS, following the end of slavery, African Americans
   39  continued to be subject to various discriminatory practices,
   40  including restrictions on burying the dead, which resulted in
   41  segregated cemeteries and burial grounds, and
   42         WHEREAS, unlike predominantly white cemeteries and burial
   43  grounds, African-American cemeteries and burial grounds were not
   44  subject to regulations and recordkeeping necessary to protect
   45  the dignity of the deceased, and
   46         WHEREAS, as a result, many abandoned African-American
   47  cemeteries and burial grounds have been inadvertently discovered
   48  following years of disrepair and neglect when land is being
   49  redeveloped or has been sold, and
   50         WHEREAS, to this day, abandoned African-American cemeteries
   51  and burial grounds throughout this state continue to be
   52  uncovered, as evidenced by recent reports regarding the former
   53  Zion Cemetery site in the Tampa Heights neighborhood and the
   54  former Ridgewood Cemetery on the grounds of C. Leon King High
   55  School, both in the City of Tampa, and
   56         WHEREAS, the State of Florida recognizes its obligation to
   57  identify and properly record abandoned African-American
   58  cemeteries and burial grounds in order to preserve history,
   59  better inform development decisions, and ensure dignity and
   60  respect for the deceased, NOW, THEREFORE,
   62  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   64         Section 1. (1) The Task Force on Abandoned African-American
   65  Cemeteries, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8), Florida
   66  Statutes, is created adjunct to the Department of State for the
   67  express purpose of studying the extent to which unmarked or
   68  abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds exist
   69  throughout the state and developing and recommending strategies
   70  for identifying and recording cemeteries and burial grounds
   71  while also preserving local history and ensuring dignity and
   72  respect for the deceased. Except as otherwise provided in this
   73  section, the task force shall operate in a manner consistent
   74  with s. 20.052, Florida Statutes. The department shall provide
   75  administrative and staff support relating to the functions of
   76  the task force.
   77         (2) The task force is composed of the following members:
   78         (a) The Secretary of State, or his or her designee, who
   79  shall serve as chair.
   80         (b) A representative of the Bureau of Archaeological
   81  Research of the Division of Historical Resources, appointed by
   82  the Secretary of State.
   83         (c) One person nominated by the President of the Florida
   84  State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement
   85  of Colored People and appointed by the Secretary of State.
   86         (d) One representative of the Florida Council of Churches,
   87  nominated by the executive director of the council and appointed
   88  by the Secretary of State.
   89         (e) One representative of the Florida African American
   90  Heritage Preservation Network, nominated by the executive
   91  director of the network and appointed by the Secretary of State.
   92         (f) One representative of the Florida Public Archaeology
   93  Network, appointed by the Secretary of State.
   94         (g) One representative of the cemetery industry, appointed
   95  by the Secretary of State.
   96         (h) One member of the Senate, appointed by the President of
   97  the Senate.
   98         (i) One member of the House of Representatives, appointed
   99  by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  100         (j) One elected official from a local government, appointed
  101  by the Secretary of State.
  102         (3) The task force shall hold its first meeting by August
  103  1, 2021. The task force may meet as many times as it deems
  104  necessary to complete the duties prescribed in this section.
  105         (4) The task force shall:
  106         (a) Review the findings and recommendations made by the
  107  Task Force on Abandoned and Neglected Cemeteries created
  108  pursuant to chapter 98-268, Laws of Florida, and any legislative
  109  or administrative action that was taken in response to the task
  110  force’s findings and recommendations.
  111         (b) Examine the adequacy of current practices regarding the
  112  preservation of unmarked and abandoned African-American
  113  cemeteries and burial grounds and identify any challenges unique
  114  to African-American cemeteries and burial grounds.
  115         (c) Identify locations of unmarked and abandoned African
  116  American cemeteries and burial grounds throughout the state and
  117  propose strategies, including any proposed legislation, for the
  118  preservation and evaluation of such sites.
  119         (d) Make recommendations regarding standards for the
  120  creation, placement, and maintenance of a memorial at any
  121  identified locations of unmarked and abandoned African-American
  122  cemeteries or burial grounds throughout the state.
  123         (5) By March 1, 2022, the task force shall submit a report
  124  detailing its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the
  125  President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
  126  Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the
  127  Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
  128         (6) This section expires July 1, 2022.
  129         Section 2. (1)(a) Upon receiving consent of the property
  130  owners at the former Zion Cemetery site in Tampa, the Department
  131  of State shall partner with the University of South Florida,
  132  Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and the Zion
  133  Cemetery Archaeological Committee formed under the auspices of
  134  the Tampa Housing Authority to continue an investigation to
  135  determine how many graves remain at the site.
  136         (b) Any historical resource, record, archive, artifact,
  137  public research, or medical record that is recovered through the
  138  course of the investigation by the University of South Florida
  139  or the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University shall
  140  remain in the custody of either university for archiving and
  141  preservation until the Department of State requests custody of
  142  such resource, record, archive, artifact, public research, or
  143  medical record.
  144         (2)(a) The Department of State shall contract with the
  145  University of South Florida and Florida Agricultural and
  146  Mechanical University for the identification and location of
  147  eligible next of kin of those buried at the site.
  148         (b) No later than January 1, 2022, the universities shall
  149  provide the Department of State with a list of possible
  150  descendants of those buried at the site and, to the extent
  151  possible, their contact information.
  152         (c) For any identification of next of kin occurring on or
  153  after January 1, 2022, the universities must provide contact
  154  information of the next of kin to the Department of State.
  155         Section 3. The Division of Historical Resources of the
  156  Department of State shall ensure that any abandoned African
  157  American cemetery identified by the Task Force on Abandoned
  158  African-American Cemeteries is listed in the Florida Master Site
  159  File. Upon such a cemetery’s listing in the Florida Master Site
  160  File and in lieu of the normal application process for
  161  historical markers, the division must seek placement of an
  162  Official Florida Historical Marker at a site so long as the
  163  approval of the owner of the property where the marker will be
  164  placed has been obtained. A person or an organization affiliated
  165  with an abandoned cemetery may assist the division in
  166  researching the history of such a site in the preparation of a
  167  historical marker’s creation and placement. The costs for the
  168  creation and placement of a historical marker authorized
  169  pursuant to this section shall be borne by the division.
  170         Section 4. As funded by the Legislature, pursuant to
  171  Specific Appropriation 3153A of the 2020-2021 General
  172  Appropriations Act, the Department of State shall create, place,
  173  and maintain a memorial at the site of the former Zion Cemetery
  174  in Tampa and at the site of the former Ridgewood Cemetery at C.
  175  Leon King High School in Tampa.
  176         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.