This is where the rubber hits the road, said the Democratic House member from Tallahassee. I wasnt going to vote for that.
The bill, co-sponsored by Daphne Campbell, a Miami-Dade Democrat who owned group homes until she lost her state funding when several vulnerable residents died in one of her facilities, ultimately passed, but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.
Another bill would have removed the power of the state ombudsman to make yearly visits to ALFs with a checklist to make sure homes were safe for residents.
Supporters of that bill, including House sponsor Matt Hudson, argued the group was just duplicating work already being done by state regulators: AHCA.
But The Herald found that was not the case: AHCA was actually cutting back on inspections of homes down by 33 percent in the past five years at the same time the ombudsman program was turning up more cases of abuse and neglect than any time in the programs history.
Hudson, a Naples Republican who received more than $5,000 in industry contributions, said he believes in less government, and if AHCA was not enforcing the law, thats the issue that needs to be addressed.
While several bills appeared to be headed for passage this year, at least 16 were put on hold, including Garcias and most of Hudsons, after a Herald investigation in May revealed sweeping breakdowns in ALFs with lawmakers deciding to wait until next year to resurrect the bills.
One legislator, Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, said the momentum created during the legislative session was a part of a larger culture pervading the capital this year. The governor and lawmakers were all pushing to deregulate the professions.
The Republican senator said one of his own bills the requirement that homes carry the life-saving heart devices was attacked by fellow lawmakers who tried to repeal the law this year in two separate bills. Its outrageous, he said. I shake my head in disbelief. The cost is minimal to what the cost of a life is.
Miami Herald staff writer Laura Figueroa contributed to this report.