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Parkland victims compensation legislation now splitting into separate bills

The fund was originally proposed in the House by Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

A proposed victims compensation fund originally put forward in the House by Rep. Kristin Jacobs now appears to be branching into separate measures — one for family members of the deceased and another for victims who were injured.

Sen. Lauren Book filed two new bills laying out the process for victims to access the funds on Friday (SB 1680, SB 1682).

“There’s one bill for the decedents. The second bill will be for those who are physically injured,” Book said.

“It has been quite a bit to wrangle all of the different parts and components of it, but I think that we’re in a really good place with all of the different families that we’ve been working with.”

Jacobs originally introduced her bill (HB 123) back in December, which aimed to set aside $110 million for the victims of the attack.

Book’s legislation creates a $160 million trust to be split evenly, $80 million each, between the two groups of victims. That trust is actually set up through a third, separate bill (SB 1678).

Jacobs, whose district — House District 96 — covers Parkland, was joined by other lawmakers in calling attention to the need for such a fund, given laws surrounding sovereign immunity.

Should the families ultimately sue the government for its role in failing to prevent the attack, sovereign immunity caps recovery at $300,000. And that $300,000 is not per victim — it’s for all the victims to split.

To recover additional money, victims would need to sue in civil court and earn a judgment in excess of their portion of the $300,000. The Legislature could then pass a bill allowing a larger payout.

That process is lengthy, prompting the push for a compensation fund. Originally, Rep. Jacobs said the $110 million in her bill would be available to injured victims as well as families of the deceased.

“We tend to think ’17,’ right? We think of those who perished,” she said. “But there are those who are suffering horribly right now and will continue to suffer.”

But with the move in the Senate to establish two separate funds, it’s expected the same will occur in the House.

Right now, Rep. Jacobs of HD 96 is away to undergo cancer treatment. And House District 97, which covers Coral Springs and is home to several of the Parkland families, is without representation.

That could require another member to file a separate bill for injured victims of the shooting. Jacobs would then have the option of amending her measure to pay out just the family members of those who were killed.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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