Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Rep. Matt Willhite filed a bill Wednesday prohibiting financial services businesses from charging former inmates a fee on checks they receive upon release from prison.
The bill (HB 279) concerns “gate money” — a payment provided by the state to certain inmates meant to help them get back on their feet when they are released. The amounts and source of the funds vary state to state, but Florida payments are typically around $100. Cashing a check, however, can eat away 2% to 10% of the total.
“The amount of money these discharged inmates receive is not enough to help them meet their basic needs,” said Willhite, a Wellington Democrat. “Released inmates receive their gate money in the form of a check. If they do not have a bank account, where do they go to cash their check? They have to go to a money services business, in which case they are paying a fee to get their money. This bill removes a barrier to those who have done their time and are working to reintegrate back into society.”
Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, has filed the Senate’s companion bill (SB 464).
“The purpose of gate money is to ensure the state of Florida is providing returning citizens with the most opportunities possible to succeed after serving their time. Their fresh start should not be further obstructed by service fees,” he said. “Our hope is that this bill alleviates that hindrance and starts a meaningful dialogue about how we can best serve returning citizens who will then in turn serve and contribute to our state and local community.”
The bills are only a few lines long, specifying that the new rule would apply to inmates released from state prisons and county or municipal jails.
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“Supply chain logjam poses question: Can Joe Biden save Christmas?” via Jessica Wehrman of Roll Call
“‘A ticking time bomb’: Lawmakers plan to address National Guard troop shortage” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics
“2020 Census may have undercounted Black Americans, new analyses say” via Tara Bahrampour of The Washington Post
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“The cost of William Shatner’s ‘most profound experience’” via Marina Koren of The Atlantic
Quote of the Day
“As far as public input goes, I can assure members that those conversations are continuing.” — Rep. Tyler Sirois, on virtual public hearings on redistricting.
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