House passes diabetes sensitivity training bill for Florida law enforcement

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The House passed a bill to implement new procedures relating to suspects and other members of the public with diabetes Wednesday afternoon.

The new law would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create online continuing-education courses to teach officers about indicators of and appropriate precautions to take when dealing with a diabetic suspect.

Fresh off his recent election as chairman-designate of the Legislative Black Caucus, Democratic Tampa Rep. Ed Narain, who sponsored the measure, issued a statement via the House Minority Office shortly after this bill won approval in the House 117-1.

“I am honored to have sponsored this bi-partisan legislation and am hopeful about the positive impact this will have on the lives of Floridians all across the state. Today, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘out of a mountain of despair’ we created a ‘stone of hope.’”

The bill is dubbed the “Arthur Green Jr. Act” after a 63-year-old Tampa man who was pulled over for driving erratically, then handcuffed for being “combative,” while having a medical episode related to his diabetes. He died shortly thereafter.

“On behalf of the Young-Green family, we feel a tremendous honor knowing that this legislation bearing the name of Arthur Green Jr. will be a lasting reminder of a wonderful man whose tragic demise will not be in vain,” said Lena Young Green, widow of Arthur Green Jr.

Green’s family was on hand when the House approved the bill nearly unanimously, with Republican wildcard Rep. John Tobia voting ‘No,’ presumably on libertarian grounds.

The Senate counterpart to Narain’s House bill is SB 746 sponsored by Republican and fellow Tampa Bay area lawmaker Sen. Tom Lee of nearby Brandon. That bill cleared the committee process back in the second week of April and will be taken up by the full Senate tomorrow.

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Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.