DeSan­tis signs ‘Jor­dan’s Law,’ oth­ers

Leg­is­la­tion aims to bet­ter pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State - By Jim Saun­ders

TALLAHASSE­E — Gov. Ron DeSan­tis re­vealed late Thurs­day that he had signed 21 bills into law, in­clud­ing one aimed at bet­ter pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and an­other pre­vent­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate pelvic ex­ams on women.

‘‘Jor­dan’s Law” was named for Jor­dan Bel­liveau

Jr., a 2-year-old boy who was murdered in 2018 in Pinel­las County. Jor­dan’s mother was charged in the slay­ing.

The bill (HB 43), spon­sored by Rep. Chris Lat­vala, R-Clear­wa­ter, and Sen. Dar­ryl Rou­son, D-St. Peters­burg, will make a series of changes in the child-wel­fare sys­tem, such as ex­pand­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the De­part­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies and law-en­force­ment agen­cies.

Also, it will re­quire train­ing for law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and a va­ri­ety of peo­ple in the child-wel­fare sys­tem to rec­og­nize and re­spond to head trauma and brain in­juries suf­fered by chil­dren.

Sup­port­ers of the bill said child-wel­fare work­ers missed warn­ing signs before the Pinel­las County tod­dler was murdered.

“Jor­dan might still be alive to­day, if it weren’t for in­ex­cus­able, sys­temic fail­ures,” Lat­vala said last year when he an­nounced that he would pur­sue the bill. “As the num­ber of kids in our child wel­fare sys­tem con­tin­ues to rise, we can’t wait any longer to take ac­tion. If the se­ri­ous flaws within Florida’s

child wel­fare sys­tem are not fixed, more chil­dren will die.”

DeSan­tis’ of­fice an­nounced the bill sign­ings af­ter 9 p.m., but the list did not in­clude some of the high­est­pro­file mea­sures of the 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, in­clud­ing a new bud­get and bills that would ex­pand school vouch­ers and re­quire parental con­sent before mi­nors could have abor­tions. The gover­nor will have to act on those is­sues by July 1.

DeSan­tis also signed a mea­sure (SB 698) that will pre­vent health-care prac­ti­tion­ers from con­duct­ing pelvic ex­ams on women with­out writ­ten con­sent. Also, the bill seeks to pre­vent mis­con­duct by doc­tors who pro­vide fer­til­ity treat­ment.

“Women seek­ing fer­til­ity treat­ment in Florida will now be pro­tected from a group of preda­tory physi­cians who commit self­ish nar­cis­sis­tic acts, and pelvic ex­ams will now re­quire spe­cific con­sent, ex­cept in cases of emer­gency, fi­nally halt­ing the wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate prac­tice of un­ap­proved pelvic ex­ams on un­con­scious women, where, at best, these ex­ams have been wrong­ful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for med­i­cal stu­dents or at worst, the equiv­a­lent of a sex­ual as­sault,” Se­nate sponsor Lau­ren Book, DPlan­ta­tion, said in a pre­pared state­ment Thurs­day night.

Other bills signed Thurs­day in­clude a mea­sure (HB 73) that re­vamps re­cy­cling laws; and one (HB 835) that takes steps to ad­dress Alzheimer’s dis­ease, in­clud­ing creat­ing the po­si­tion of de­men­tia di­rec­tor within the De­part­ment of El­der Af­fairs.

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