Tallahassee update on Free Kill Bills - It's not over. We need your help to win
Pictured: Protest in Lake Worth Florida from January 9, 2022, outside of JFK hospital in honor of the loss of Dominick Phillips mother
Last week team FMRA went to Tallahassee to see if we can help bring about the hearing of SB 262, SB 560, HB 6011 and HB 6039. The passing of all four bills would mean a full repeal of Florida's Free Kill law. After a lot of meetings with legislators in both the Florida House of Representatives and in the Florida Senate, we got the message that the four bills are currently stuck in the Senate. The opposition is the FMA, The Doctors Insurance Comapnay, The Florida Chamber and related lobbyists. Last year the House heard and passed a partial repeal of the free kill law (for the medical practitioner to be held accountable for the loss of an adult child in the case of medical negligence). The same legislators are still in office in The Florida House, and so it would most likely pass the house again but… the Senate never heard it. For a bill to become a law, it must be passed in both the House and Senate before heading to the Governor’s office for a seal of approval. Sabrina Davis met directly with House Representative Duggan, who told her that if it’s not heard in the Senate first, there is no reason for him to waste time with this bill.
Team FMRA's Melody McDonald, Sabrina Davis, Belinda Warren and Jennifer Bourassa met with Senator Danny Burgess about hearing the bill in his Tallahassee office this week. During our chat he sounded sincerely sorry for all that the people had been through. He even commented that his wife had been a victim of medical malpractice herself, and there had been a series of terrible mistakes made by physicians in charge of her care. He looked us each in the eye. Yet he did NOT commit to hearing the bill. I really thought that he would immediately put at least one, if not both of the Senate bills on the schedule. But he did not.
He is, however sponsoring a bill for the FMA PAC that continues to provide hospitals with a way to have zero accountability for all COVID related malpractice and death. View his bills here. Jennifer Bourassa, an advocate for change, testified on COVID patient rights in a Senate committee hearing that we heard about very last minute. She did a great job representing all of those lost to misdiagnosis and bad practices that are repeated for bonus payouts. You can watch her testimony here, as Senator Burgess watches on.
We have about two weeks to convince Burgess to hear these bills. The best strategy is for 200 or more people to reach out to his office in Tallahassee this week. Even better if some of those people can say they are constituents. We stressed the number of people behind these bills, we showed him letters and photos. Perhaps he needs to hear it from you directly. If you have a twitter account, let's let him know there also.
Dare I say we can create our own publicity. Sabrina and I have responded to a few of his tweets, reminding him that there are some important issues at hand that we would appreciate his attention on. Please guys, keep it clean and courteous as he is more likely to listen, but I am all for persistence. Here is his twitter handle: @DannyBurgessFL
The Senate Judiciary committee, that Danny Burgess is the chairman and the first stop for the Bill. He sets the agenda and lists what Bills will be heard each week. He told us he would "discuss it with his committee." The bottom line is he is the decision maker. On Thursdays, the coming week's agenda is posted here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/JU
Then the meetings and bills on the agenda take place the following Monday morning at 9:00 am.
Sabrina and I will be checking the schedule every Thursday. You can sign up for alerts also on the same page. If the bills, make the schedule, we will be reaching out to help everyone who is able to register to speak in Tallahassee.
The first reading of a bill takes place only in the first three to four weeks of committee meetings. This way it has time for the second reading to take place in the second committee meeting. That leaves us two weeks maximum to get these bills heard.
CALL TO ACTION:
Outreach: Senator Danny Burgess
Here is the number to call: (850) 487-5020
Chances are you won’t get a meeting, please pitch the script to the person who answers the phone. His best assistants are Jonathan Till and Alex. Try to get one of them.
Here are the people to email:
Senator Burgess: email@example.com
CC his assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is his twitter handle: @DannyBurgessFL
Call script sample: Thank you so much for meeting with Sabrina, Melody and our friends at Florida Medical Rights to consider SB 262 and 560. I would really appreciate it if you could allow these bills to be heard this session. These bills would allow all Floridians to be treated with equality and medical practitioners to be held accountable for gross medical errors. Here is my personal story.
Please customize and send this Email (sample/starter provided):
Subject line: (Your own, individual/personal note, sample ideas: references either SB262/560, requests hearing bills, that it’s an important message from your constituent, etc.) It is very important that the subject lines are not the same as they have more chance of being opened.
Dear Senator Burgess,
Thank you so much for meeting with Sabrina, Melody and our friends at Florida Medical Rights to consider SB 262 and 560. I would really appreciate it if you could allow these bills to be heard in this session.