Children's Services Advocates Warn Against Negron Children's Services Council Bill
Despite overheming opposition from South Floridians, Sen. Joe Negron's bill to allow voters to decide every six years whether to close or continue their local Children's Services Council passed the Senate Community Affairs Commitee Wednesday.
Negron is in trouble in his Republican-dominated home district, which encompasses northern Palm Beach County, most of Martin County and parts of St. Lucie and Indian River Counties, over the bill, and the furor was on display at the standing-room-only meeting this morning.
Local government officials and children's services advocates told the board repeatedly that the bill was unnecessary and endangered children's programs in their counties.
The Martin County Commission can already call for a refendum whenever it needs to, and it hasn't needed to in recent memory, said Brandon Wagner, representative for the Martin County Board of Commissioners. Ted Granger, CEO of United Way of Florida, said the county already has the abilitity to demand accountability for its CSC.
"This bill actually waters down that ability," he said.
Negron, echoed by Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, retorted that the bill instituted a mandatory schedule for the councils, as opposed to the arbitrary one now in place.
Only two senators voted against the bill. Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Miami, although neither explained why as the committee rushed to other bills.