Florida lawmaker’s sober home cleanup bill might die today. Here’s why

Young addicts protested “corrupt sober homes” outside a Lake Worth apartment complex in March. (Photo by Christine Stapleton / Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — A bill that would target patient brokering, insurance fraud and other unethical practices in the drug-treatment industry has the backing of the governor and state’s attorney general, and yet may die in the Florida Senate today.

The bill, sponsored by Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, hasn’t yet been placed on the Senate calendar for a vote. It would need to be placed by the Senate Special Order Calendar Group at an evening meeting today in order to clear the Senate before the Florida Legislative session ends Friday, said Chauncey Graham, Clemens’ aide.

The state senator is doing rounds in Tallahassee today to promote the placement of the bill on the Senate calendar, Graham said, however it’s unclear at this point whether it will make it.

» RELATED: Will Florida Legislature support sober home cleanup bills?

A parallel House bill — sponsored by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton — passed unanimously last week.

The bills are based on the recommendations of State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force, which released a report on the recovery industry and crafted suggested regulations.

The bills would force sober home telemarketers to register with the state, clarify laws that make kickbacks illegal and require background screenings for owners, directors and clinical supervisors of treatment centers.

The Office of Statewide Prosecutor would be given power to pursue patient brokering cases.

The bill also adds patient brokering to a list of crimes punishable under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO. Under RICO, patterned after the federal law originally aimed at mobsters, law enforcement can crack down on organized groups.

The bills were praised by Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi at opioid epidemic news conference in mid-April. The bills were touted as a way to force illicit sober homes to clean up or close down.