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Florida Recovery Residences on the Chopping Block

gavelTwo separate legislative proposals are aimed to tighten up the sober home industry.  The Bills follow on the heels of legislation proposed last year, which did not become law.  We have a couple weeks left till the Legislative session ends (May 1st), after which time we will see what regulation made its way through the process.  Until then, it’s important to have an idea of what is on the horizon.

Committee Substitute for House Bill 21 and Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 326 contain the following interesting features—

Creates “voluntary” certification for recovery residences;

A. Specifies the requirement of a “recovery residence administrator;”

B. Specifies that the credentialing entity of both the recovery residence and the recovery residence administrator will be a nonprofit organization (not necessarily one that is tax exempt) that “develops, administers professional, facility, or organization certification programs according to applicable nationally recognized certification or psychometric standards,” and requires the credentialing entity to:

  • Establish the recovery residence certification requirements. Interestingly, the Legislature, which states that those in recovery are vulnerable and need to be protected, is offloading to an unspecified nonprofit organization (which anyone can form in five minutes) the responsibility for developing certification requirements;
  • Establish procedures to, among other things, to monitor, inspect and insure compliance with the certification requirements established by this unspecified nonprofit organization entrusted by the state of Florida with this responsibility;
  • Require recovery residences (who are volunteering to be regulated) to submit documents such as job descriptions, drug testing procedures and requirements, to be managed by a “certified recovery residence administrator.”

The Bill also states that a recovery residence cannot be certified if an owner, director or CFO plead guilty, no contest or was found guilty of certain offenses.  Moreover, the non-governmental, not for profit certifying body has authority to suspend or revoke a certification if the entity determines the residence isn’t complying with the law.  No due process is required.  Oh, and finally, as of July 1, 2016, a provider licensed under Chapter 397 may not refer a patient (current or discharged) to a recovery residence unless the residence, which is not required to be certified, actually becomes certified, making the voluntary certification requirement, ummm….mandatory!

Seriously?  It’s an interesting piece of legislation, to be sure.  The Legislature thinks those in recovery are vulnerable and need protection, but are not willing to specify (1) a governmental entity that is responsible for protecting these people, or (2) take any direct responsibility for the well-being of such people.  It’s as if the Legislature is saying “This is really important, so someone (other than us) should deal with it.”  And it’s confusing as hell, right?  “There’s no need to be certified.  It’s completely voluntary.”  Except for the fact that they will be out of business on July 1, 2016 if they’re not all certified! (After that, with limited exceptions)

If the law passes, it will be very important to see which nonprofit organization emerges to fulfill the traditional role of the government and to see what connection it may have had to the process of this Bill becoming law.  Some might even think it makes sense to explore that BEFORE the bill is voted on!

There’s an old saying:  there are two things you don’t want to see being made.  One is sausage.  The other is law.  Enough said.


House Bill Co-Sponsors

Rep. Harrell District Office Suite 325 900 Southeast Federal Highway Stuart, FL 34994 (772) 221-4011 EMAIL

Rep. Hager District Office Suite 1240 301 Yamato Road Boca Raton, FL 33431 (561) 470-6607 EMAIL 

Senate Bill Co-Sponsors

Senator Jeff Clemens 508 Lake Avenue Unit C Lake Worth, FL 33460 (561) 540-1140 EMAIL 

Senator Maria Sachs Delray Beach City Hall 100 NW 1st Avenue Delray Beach, FL 33444 (561) 279-1427 EMAIL