Latvala’s bill on homeless youths headed to Senate floor

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A measure that would allow homeless people aged 16 to 22 to control their own legal matters has cleared all committees in both chambers, reports the News Service of Florida.  Sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg and Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, the bills (HB 1351, SB 1662) were spoken for by a group of high school students before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.  “We have high school civics classes that compete to see which idea should be a law,” Glorioso told the committee. “Today these young adults came up here from Armwood High School to present the bill to you.”  Armwood’s “Oughta Be a Law” team explained that their concern was kids who are essentially raising themselves.  “Many of these young people are first generation high school graduates or first-generation college-bound,” said one of the students, Stephanie Walker.  “They’re ending the cycle of poverty for their families.” Another member of the student group, Tori Wilson, said unaccompanied youth “are not simply runaways or unruly teens who are angry with their parents.  These are the true gap kids, who are deemed too old to enter into the foster care system but do not have anyone to sign for them when assistance is needed.”  Young adults typically become homeless due to some type of family breakdown, and the Florida Department of Education has established school liaisons for them in each of the state’s 67 counties.  The Senate panel congratulated the Armwood team for its advocacy and passed the legislation unanimously.

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