News

Governor Charlie Crist Signs Legislation Continuing Florida's Efforts to Divest State Funds

TALLAHASSEE, FL- Continuing to pave the way on divestment of state funds from rogue nations, Governor Charlie Crist on Monday signed a bill making it easier for Florida's citizens to exercise economic pressure against terror-sponsoring states. The bill, SB 538 sponsored by Senators Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and Carey Baker (R-Eustis), requires fire and police pension funds to divest from Iran and Sudan and requires the State Board of Administration to provide a "terror-free" option for state employees participating in the State's defined contribution retirement plan.

In 2007, State Senator Ted Deutch sponsored the Protecting Florida's Investments Act, making Florida the first state to divest its pension funds from companies engaging in business with Iran and Sudan. Since its passage, Florida - which has the nation's fourth largest pension fund - has divested over $1 billion from scrutinized companies.

"The state of Florida has made it clear that its citizens will not aid the genocide in Darfur or contribute to Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program," said Sen. Deutch. "The Governor has reinforced the commitment of our state's citizens to not support companies who choose to put profit over international security."

SB 538 requires that the public investors in the $5 billion defined contribution plan be offered a terror-free investment fund. It also requires police and firefighter pension funds to identify any holdings they may have with scrutinized companies and to divest these securities by 2010.

Florida is the first state in America to require that a terror-free option be given to its investors. Since Florida became the first state to divest, 18 other states have adopted divestment measures.

 

 

 

 

Legislature Passes Ted's Bill to Protect Children in Cases of Domestic Abuse

TALLAHASSEE, FL- The Florida Legislature on Friday passed a bill requiring judges to consider charges of domestic or sexual abuse, involving either parent, when granting custody or arranging visitation. Sponsored by Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton), and inspired by a local story, SB 904 reduces from a third degree felony to a first degree misdemeanor the level of a domestic violence conviction judges must consider when determining parental custody.

"I am so proud to have passed this legislation that will help ensure no child falls victim to the relationship of the parents," said Sen. Deutch. "While there is no doubt that children benefit from spending time with both parents, it is always necessary to determine how to best protect the child."

Sen. Deutch's efforts to revamp custody requirements began after learning the story of a constituent who left an abusive marriage, only to have her ex-husband during his approved visitation set fire to their home, killing their two children and himself. Senator Deutch recognized that not only are many felony domestic violence cases plead down to first degree misdemeanors, but that a parent is frequently granted shared custody or unsupervised visitation if they have a history of domestic violence not involving the children. With the support of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Senator Deutch worked for two years to change this.

The passage of SB 904 puts Florida in line with more than half of all states which currently have laws establishing a level of domestic violence conviction presumed to be detrimental to the child when making child custody and visitation awards.

The legislation next heads to the governor for signature.

 

Florida Legislature Continues Efforts to Divest State Funds


TALLAHASSEE, FL- Continuing to pave the way on divestment of state funds from rogue nations, the Florida Legislature on Friday passed a bill making it easier for Florida's citizens to exercise economic pressure against terror-sponsoring states. The bill, SB 538 sponsored by Senators Carey Baker (R-Eustis) and Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton), requires fire and police pension funds to divest from Iran and Sudan and requires the State Board of Administration to provide a "terror-free" option for state employees participating in the State's defined contribution retirement plan.

In 2007, State Senator Ted Deutch sponsored the Protecting Florida's Investments Act, making Florida the first state to divest its pension funds from companies engaging in business with Iran and Sudan. Since its passage, Florida - which has the nation's fourth largest pension fund - has divested over $1 billion from scrutinized companies.

"The state of Florida has made it clear that it will not aid the genocide in Darfur or Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program," said Sen. Deutch. "Today, we reinforce the commitment of our state's citizens to not support companies who choose to put profit over international security."

"As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I know firsthand of the atrocities that occur because of the support and funding of these terror-sponsoring countries," said Sen. Baker. "Our state's workers will not continue to have their hard earned dollars used to aid those who seek our destruction."

SB 538 requires police and firefighter pension funds to identify any holdings they may have with scrutinized companies and divest these securities by 2010.

"I am proud that we have worked in a bipartisan fashion to create this innovative investing option for state employees," said House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who worked with Sen. Deutch to pass the Protecting Florida's Investments Act as well as SB 538. "This further reinforces Florida's commitment that we are not investing funds in companies that finance terrorism and threaten America's national security."

Since Florida became the first state to divest, 18 other states have adopted terror-free language. Wall Street has also followed suit, creating terror free index funds, and on a federal level, the Financial Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives this week considered the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act to help other states expedite divestment efforts.

SB 538 now awaits the Governor's signature.

Senator Deutch and Senator Altman Announce "Protecting Florida's Health" Legislation


Tallahassee, Fla.  – Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and Senator Thad Altman (R-Viera) today announced sweeping legislation aimed at reducing the burden on Florida’s Medicaid program caused by tobacco use by targeting all tobacco products sold in the Sunshine State.

Sponsored by Senator Deutch, Senate Bill 1840, now named “Protecting Florida’s Health,” is a multi-pronged approach to tobacco use: not only is it intended to deter new tobacco users, but also to increase the amount of revenue available to cover associated health care costs by levying an increased surcharge on all tobacco products, such as cigars and snuff.

The legislation is backed by the Florida Chapter of the American Cancer Society, which joined the lawmakers in supporting the broadening of the original bill. Other lawmakers in attendance included Senator Nan Rich (D-Weston) and Senator Durrell Peaden (R-Crestview).

“This bipartisan legislation is about protecting health and promoting responsibility,” said Senator Altman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax.  “Our committee has conducted several workshops aimed at identifying policies that impede tax fairness. I believe this legislation is an excellent first step. It brings accountability and fairness to our system by reducing the burden currently borne by non-tobacco users.”

Medical studies clearly show the impact of tobacco use on the body.  But while cigarette smokers have traditionally been the primary focus, research clearly shows a direct link between those using other tobacco products such as cigars and chewing tobacco and higher risks of certain cancers and other illnesses.

For example, tobacco products taken orally contain 28 cancer-causing agents and increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth and pancreas. The health care costs associated with treating these tobacco-related illnesses are largely covered through the state’s Medicaid system.

“Tobacco use is a personal choice,” said Senator Deutch.  “Yet that choice impacts non-smokers in the form of increased health care costs, which are currently borne by all Floridians.  We are able to recoup these otherwise unrecovered Medicaid costs by holding users responsible for their actions. This legislation will also help to prevent young people from taking up smoking, and ultimately lead to a healthier future for our state.”

The additional revenue the state collects will be directed not only to Medicaid costs associated with tobacco use, but to other areas of critical need within Florida’s health care budget.

 

 

 

 

Ted Facilitates Changes in Florida Prepaid College Program


 Boca Raton, Fl- A child’s prepaid college plan is now better protected against parental abuse thanks to the efforts of State Senator Ted Deutch(D-Boca Raton).

  The Senator demanded that the Florida Prepaid College Program revise a rule allowing only one person to be designated the purchaser of a Prepaid Plan.  The new rule now allows a co-purchaser to have greater rights regarding the use, termination and refund of any benefits.

“The change allows parents and guardians to ensure that a child’s education funding will be properly protected, no matter the status of the parental relationship,” said Senator Deutch.

Senator Deutch began working on the rule change after he was approached by a constituent whose husband had cashed in her child’s Prepaid Plan after divorce proceedings.  The new rule requires the co-purchasers to provide written consent for any changes to a plan, ensuring this will not happen to others.

The new rule took effect on February 1, 2009.  Anyone who purchased a plan prior to that date may send a written request to the Prepaid College Plan Board requesting new benefits.