RAPE KIT BACKLOG The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says there are over 13,435 sexual assault kits that were collected but never submitted for testing. FDLE estimates it could cost between $9 – $32 million and take between three and nine years for the lab work to be completed. Congress has authorized federal grants to help deal with such backlogs and FDLE is applying for several grants. In related news, Representative Janet Atkins (R-Fernandina Beach) has filed a bill that would require FDLE crime labs to adopt guidelines in handling evidence connected to sexual offences and to require rape kits be tested within thirty days.
MEDICAL RECORDS DISPOSAL According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, inspection reports of long-term care facilities in seven Northeast Florida counties were disposed of improperly. Records from 2000 to 2007 contained names and birthdates of patients treated at the facilities. Housekeeping threw the records into a dumpster, rather than having them shredded.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE As a result of the recession, Florida received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009 removing the work requirement for food assistance. Starting January 1st, nondisabled adults aged 18 to 49 who do not have children, must work or volunteer at least twenty hours a week to get benefits for over three months. Participating in a job training program also counts toward the requirement. Supporters say reinstating the requirement will move food stamp recipients toward self-sufficiency. Opponents argue cutting off access to food could lead to unintended costs, such as higher health care expenses caused by malnourishment.
FLORIDA REACHES 20 MILLION Florida is now the second fastest growing state, behind Texas, and remains the third most populous state, overtaking New York in 2014. Over twenty million people now call Florida home.
ORANGE PRODUCTION The USDA recently projected a 30% decline in orange production over last year’s harvest, a result of the industry’s continued fight to curtail the effects of citrus greening.