Foster child driver’s license bill signed into law

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Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Thursday a measure to help foster children get a driver’s license and auto insurance, as a step towards independence and educational or job opportunities.

HB 977, which unanimously passed the Legislature in the spring, requires the Department of Children and Families to work with a non-profit organization to set up a three-year pilot program for driver’s licence, education courses and auto insurance for children in the state’s foster-care system.

Sponsored in the Senate by Venice Republican Sen. Nancy Detert, the bill will aid the 2 percent of foster children leaving state care who have trouble with driver’s licenses “due to the fact that they do not have a parent to put them on their insurance.”

Rep. Ben Albritton, sponsor of the House version, called the measure “our ‘Keys to Independence’ bill.”

Funding for the program will be $800,000 annually, taken from the state’s general revenue. The new law also requires secondary schools to provide eligible foster-care students with preference when enrolling in driver-instruction programs. The bill becomes law July 1.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.