Dear Members and Advocates,

There are three bills making their way through Committees, which we need to keep our eyes on and do our best to voice opposition against. They are:

  • CS/SB 234: Registration of Sexual Predators and Sexual Offenders or its companion Bill in the House HB 193 . This bill, introduced by Senator Lauren Book, has one particularly debilitating component to it. Sen. Book seeks to redefine “day” to include “part of the day”. Literally, it states, “A day includes any part of a calendar day”. An hour is “part of a calendar day”, so is a minute and a second. So, technically, if you visit your parents’ home for dinner once a month, you would have to register their address. The bill does exclude the first day from the “3 or more days” in the aggregate during a calendar year, but still that leaves you with only 3 times you can visit a family or friend’s home without having to register it. You can use the same barber three times, but not 4. For argument’s sake, even if Ms. Book didn’t intend it to be applied that way, that’s clearly the way the proposed statute is written. Absent clarification, everyplace we are physically present 4 times in a calendar year (grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, neighbor’s homes, barber shops, even the registration office) would be registrable.
  • SB 932: Minor Time-sharing for Registered Sexual Offenders and Sexual Predators or its companion Bill in the House HB 141. This is a particularly cruel Bill and should terrify anyone who is raising children. The Bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Wright, would prohibit a court from granting time-sharing with a minor child to a parent registered as a sexual offender or sexual predator unless the court makes a specific finding in writing that the registrant poses no significant risk of harm to the child. You read that correct. A Court can not grant any timesharing to a parent who is on the registry, regardless of the offense and regardless of how long ago it was, unless an elected judge makes a subjective finding. Anyone that’s been through the family court system in Florida knows the bias that exists in many of these Judges and asking them to vouch for you in writing is practically impossible. That means if you get divorced for reasons having nothing to do with your old offense, you can’t be granted access to your children.
  • SB 522: Vacation Rentals or its companion Bill in the House HB 219. This Bill, sponsored by Senator Manny Diaz, includes a provision that would amend the definition of “Temporary Residence” to add the language, “The term also includes a vacation rental, as defined in s. 509.242, where a person lodges for 24 hours or more.” Again, you read that correct. So a vacation rental where you stay for 24 hours must be registered as a temporary residence. No “3 or more days”… one day.

SB 932/HB 141 looks to be going nowhere fast and we hope it will die on the vine.

SB 522/HB 219 passed 6 to 3 in the Regulated Industries Committee, and has two more stops.

But SB 234/HB 193 is on the fast track. Senator Book’s bill flew through the Criminal Justice and Judiciary Committees unanimously and it has one more stop before it heads to the floor; the Rules committee. When she was presenting the bill, Senator Book made absolutely no mention of the change in definition of “Day” and nobody appeared at the Judiciary committee to say otherwise or oppose the bill. So we need to show up and say something!

When that bill goes before the Rules committee, we need to make our voices heard and make sure that specific part of the amendment is stricken or clarified. There is a very clear and commonly accepted definition of day and that is, “a period of twenty-four hours as a unit of time, reckoned from one midnight to the next, corresponding to a rotation of the earth on its axis.” Senator Book’s attempt to redefine “day” as an hour, minute, second or “any part of a day” is absurd. We cannot stress how incredibly important it is that we have one or more persons show up at the committee meeting to represent FAC (we can prepare the statement, it just needs to be read). Since most of our Board and most active volunteers are located nowhere near Tallahassee, we often struggle to fund someone local who can head down to a meeting when something is snuck onto the agenda at the last minute. If you or someone you know is near Tallahassee and can volunteer to take on this very important task, please contact us immediately at [email protected].

For those reading this update who are out of state but on the Florida registry, we have some good news. Our “Out of State Challenge” has been funded and we hope to have a case filed by Summer. The State of Florida keeps people on it’s Sex Offender Registry after they move away, are deported, or even die! Some people visited Florida for vacation, never returned, but remain on Florida’s registry FOR LIFE even after they are removed from the registry in their home state! Fewer than half the people on Florida’s registry are actually in Florida communities! Even those who are on the Florida registry and live here also get something out of a win in this challenge; the knowledge that if all else fails you can one day leave this draconian State and not remain up on it’s public shaming list! More to come on this and other legal fronts shortly.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee


Reminders:

Need to Talk?  FAC has peer volunteers that are here to talk one-on-one, call 904-452-8322.  Volunteers are not available 24/7 but you will receive a call as soon as possible.  If you have an emergency, call 911, or helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or a crisis center (Listing of Crisis Centers and Hotlines)

Want to be a County Coordinator?  Sign up for a class to receive your training package.  Class A meets by phone on Sundays or Class B meets by phone on Wednesdays.  Looking for members who want to be part of the Membership team for their local area.  It requires 2-4 hours/week, self-motivation and a one-year commitment. No limit, you can have multiple coordinators in one County if you have a friend or family member that wants to help.  We will provide the training, support, and materials that you need to succeed.  If interested, contact membership at 833-273-7325 Option 1 or email [email protected] for more information.

Thursday Feb 25 – 7:00 pm ET – Fearless Group – Peer-led support group. Phone 727-731-2927.  If unable to connect, text “CALL ME” to same number to receive call back and be joined to the meeting.

Saturday Feb 13 – 11:00am-1:00pm ET. Therapist-led Family Support Session via Zoom.  Limited participation.  Email [email protected] or leave message at 833-273-7325 Option 1 for access to the Monthly group session.


SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK

FDLE Recommended Changes to the Registry

Contained in the Criminal Justice Meeting Packet was a one-pager from FDLE with their recommended amendments to the registry. Their suggestions included allowing registration of vehicle changes and addresses online through the Cyber Communication Portal. SB234 does…

Florida’s 2nd DCA affirms “distribution” conviction of man using peer-to-peer software.

It’s one of the more mind boggling convictions we see. People being convicted of “distribution” of child pornography, even though they never actively sent it, knew it was being transmitted or communicating with the recipient. It happens through the use of…

FAC Statement in opposition to Senate Bill 234

Following is the text of FAC’s letter to senators concerning SB234. If you would like to write to your senator urging them to oppose this Bill, we encourage you to do so. You can find their contact information here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/#Senators February…

Federal judge rules Tennessee sex offender law punishes retroactively

A federal judge has ruled that parts of Tennessee’s sex offender registration act should not be applied retroactively to two offenders who sued over the law. Monday’s ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee was narrowly written to apply…

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