For the second time this month, Rep. Kathleen Passidomo received plaudits from the Florida Bar.
The Trial Lawyers Section gave the Naples Republican its “Legislator of the Year” award on Tuesday, honoring the third-term representative for her work in revising the state’s guardianship laws to protect Florida’s elders from financial exploitation.
“I am humbled by this honor and I look forward to working with the Trial Bar on passing meaningful legislation and promoting public policy to protect the rights of Florida citizens, particularly the most vulnerable,” Passidomo wrote in a prepared statement on the occasion of her award.
Passidomo chairs the House Civil Justice Committee. Earlier this month she received the state Bar’s Elder Law Section Legislator of the Year award, which the Bar said marked the first time it had ever accorded the same lawmaker that honor twice.
That award was given for much the same work including the Elder Financial Abuse Reform Act, which Gov. Rick Scott signed into law in 2014.
Court-appointed legal guardians, who are accorded power of attorney and other privileges, have been reported to abuse the state system and raid the finances of their wards.
Passidomo’s work this past legislative session centered on related issues, including HB 5, which she co-sponsored with Miami Democrat Rep. Jose Javier-Rodriguez. The bill prohibits payments to guardians who fail to furnish required reports and mandates reporting of infractions to the Department of Children & Families, among other reforms. That law too was signed by the governor, and becomes law on July 1.
Originally a New Jersey native, Passidomo moved to Florida in 1976 to get her JD from Stetson College of Law. She was on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission from 2001 until 2008 and chaired the Florida Commission on the Status of Women from 2006-2007.
Besides her role as leader of the Civil Justice panel, she was also named vice chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee last year by Speaker Steve Crisafulli.