DELRAY BEACH — Bills that would have targeted shady marketing practices among drug-treatment facilities appear to have died in the Florida Legislature, despite backing from the governor and state’s attorney general.
A state Senate bill — sponsored by Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth — failed to make it on the Senate calendar for Thursday, which was necessary in order for the bill to pass before Florida Legislative session closes Friday, Clemen’s aide Chauncey Graham said Tuesday.
Supporters say there is still a chance tomorrow to place the bill on the Senate calendar later this week.
A parallel House bill — sponsored by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton — passed unanimously last week. But the bills must pass both houses of the Legislature and be approved by the governor in order to be adopted into Florida law.
The bills were 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 have tackled practices such as patient brokering by forcing sober home telemarketers to register with the state. It also would have clarified laws that make kickbacks illegal and required background screenings for owners, directors and clinical supervisors of treatment centers.
The Office of Statewide Prosecutor would have been given power to pursue patient brokering cases.
The bills were praised by Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi at an opioid epidemic news conference in mid-April. They were touted as a way to force illicit sober homes to clean up or close down.
Should the bills fail, this would be the second year in a row that sober home legislation proposed by Hager and Clemens, who have for years teams to tackle the issue, would be shot down. In 2016, bills that would have addressed shady business practices among sober homes were killed.
The Florida Legislature instead tasked Aronberg with creating the task force and leading a study of laws relating to the drug-treatment industry.