Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

ALF bill looks stalled for a second year

TALLAHASSEE — For the second year in a row, legislation to reform the state's assisted-living facilities in the wake of a Miami Herald investigation revealing neglect, abuse and death of ALF residents appears in trouble of passing.

The Senate passed a bill earlier this month that aims to tighten oversight of Florida's 3,015 assisted-living facilities 38-0, but its House companion remains trapped in committee. While it's possible a bill could be heard in the House, supporters say their hopes are fading.

"It will be an insult to the elderly people of Florida and their loved ones if the session again ends without an ALF bill in place," said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, sponsor of SB 646. "The bill needs to be a priority."

The House bill could be passed as an amendment to another measure, according to House rules. It could also be possible for the House to pass the Senate bill. Because the two versions aren't identical, though, it complicates the process. The House also could pluck the bill from its final committee if two-thirds of members agree.

"I never say a bill is dead till it's dead," said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. "We still have time."

Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, sponsor of the House measure, HB 1319, puts the bill's chances of passing as "50-50." Gonzalez said the Senate version "doesn't necessarily look like what I would like my bill to look like. I've got a few amendments."

AARP Florida advocacy manager Jack McRay said he fears "we're about to see the same scenario as last year. It's an absolute travesty for the state of Florida and residents living in ALFs."

Legislators have been trying to pass reforms since a Herald investigation found that at least 70 residents of assisted-living facilities died from abuse and neglect since 2002. After the series, Gov. Rick Scott promised to clean up the industry. He formed an ALF task force in 2011, which developed forceful reforms, but the House and Senate weren't able to pass a proposal based on its recommendations in 2012.

While this bill isn't quite as strong as last year's effort, Sobel said it offers ways to "help and protect" the more than 80,000 elderly residents of ALFs. The bill would mandate additional training, offer more consistency in dealing with troubled ALFs and require a facility with at least one mental health patient to obtain a specialty license.

"I thought this would be easy," said Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who also proposed ALF legislation that didn't advance. "I wonder how many more of our seniors have to suffer in a few assisted living facilities for the House to get this."

ALF bill looks stalled for a second year 04/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa poll rates streets, flooding, police-community relations and transportation as top public priorities


    A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.

    Survey results
  2. Video shows women violently beating another in apparent Pasco road rage incident


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two women are accused of dragging another woman out of her car window and beating her unconscious at a Pasco County intersection in an apparent road rage incident, according to the Sheriff's Office.

    Shelley Lyn Gemberling, 49, and Alicia Nikole Scarduzio, 20, are accused of pulling another driver out of her car and beating her in a Pasco County intersection. (Pasco Sheriff's Office)
  3. Top 5 at noon: Out of sight, out of mind: a Times investigation; PolitiFact: what's at stake in the tax debate? and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Aaron Richardson Jr. talks to voices in his head at his father's bail bond business in St. Petersburg. Richardson has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]
  4. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family


    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  5. Did Hurricane Irma speed the end of Florida orange juice?


    Hurricane Irma plundered Florida's orange belt, leaving a trail of uprooted trees, downed fruit and flooded groves worse than anything growers say they have seen in more than 20 years.

    A large number of oranges lie on the ground at the Story Grove orange grove in the wake of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales. [Photo by Brian Blanco | Getty Images]