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Legislation filed in both the Florida House and Senate is designed to provide additional oversight of the state’s guardianship program.
orlando.com’s recent article, “Florida legislation would require guardians receive judge’s approval for DNR orders,” explains that the companion bills (House Bill 709 and Senate Bill 994) would also require guardians to report any payments they receive, along with who they are from, in an effort to prevent any conflicts of interests, under the table gifts or kickbacks.
The bills will also deny guardians the ability to petition themselves to be appointed to guardianship cases, unless they are related to the person.
Florida Senator Kathleen Passidomo, District 28, confirmed that both she and Florida Representative Colleen Burton filed their bills together.
Passidomo said the bills will now be reviewed by the Rules Committee.
The legislation comes as a result of a criminal investigation into former state guardian Rebecca Fierle of Orlando. She resigned after judges around Central Florida removed her from hundreds of cases, when it was discovered she placed DNR orders on people who didn’t want to die. The criminal investigation is ongoing.
She hasn’t been charged, but is the focus of multiple criminal investigations into at least two underway as of November—one by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the other by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced his $91.4 billion budget request, which included a plea for more money to help expand oversight of guardianship cases, specifically the state’s professional guardians. Governor DeSantis is asking lawmakers to provide $6.4 million to support the Office of Public and Professional Guardians through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. That office is seeking an increase of $454,930, specifically for professional guardian investigative services and legal fees.
Reference: orlando.com (November 20, 2019) “Florida legislation would require guardians receive judge’s approval for DNR orders”