Parental Authority Bill Threatened by Trial Lawyers

Parent groups, youth activity providers and the business community are supporting House Bill 363 (sponsored by Representative Horner) and Senate Bill 886 (sponsored by Senator Oelrich) to restore parent's rights and protect businesses from onerous lawsuits. Florida parents have had this right for many years until an unfortunate Florida Supreme Court ruling last December.

The Parental Authority Bill is simple - it restores a parent's right to waive liability for their minor child to the same extent they can waive liability for themself. The litigation industry has seized this ruling as an opportunity to restrict a parent's right to choose enriching life opportunities such as flying an airplane, scuba diving, swimming with a dolphin, renting a wave-runner, or thousands of other life-enriching activities young Floridians and millions of tourists enjoy each year.

Even organizations involved with group activities - YMCAs, Boy Scout and Girl Scouts, Girls and Boys Club, church youth groups, youth sports organizations, and school field trips may be affected as the insurance industry begins to react by denying liability coverage for providers of these activities.

Mike Thomas' compelling column in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel laid out the debate from a parent's perspective.

The House Bill has cleared committees and is ready for action by the House of Representatives.

On the Senate side, the trial lawyers are effectively fighting passage of SB 886. They will use the Florida Supreme Court ruling to deny parents their rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and take advantage of unfortunate accidents involving children to extract money from businesses and insurance companies for themselves.

The failure of the Legislature to pass HB363/SB886 without compromising amendments will result in additional government interference of parent's rights and loss of enriching activities for Florida youth. Insurance companies may discontinue providing liability coverage for many youth-oriented activities.

Please call, fax, or email the Senate Judicial Committee members now and tell them to support Senate Bill 886. You will most likely be speaking to a member of their staff.

Your action by noon on Wednesday, April 15 is very important. The Judiciary Committee will be meeting Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Tell the Committee Members:
Parents have the right to make decisions as to the type of enriching activities their children participate in.
Parents should not have to compromise with trial lawyers to create a watered-down version of SB 886.
Businesses should be allowed to continue offering enriching activities to minors, as they have for decades prior to the recent Supreme Court ruling.
Ask them to support and favorably approve Senate Bill 886 through the Judiciary Committee without the trail lawyer's amendments.
Chairman Senator Lee Constantine
Altamonte Springs (R-22nd)
(850) 487-5050
Fax (850) 487-4347

Vice Chairman Senator Arthenia L. Joyner
Tampa (D-18th)
(850) 487-5059
Fax (888) 263-7871

Senator Carey Baker
Eustis (R-20th)
(850) 487-5014
Fax (850) 487-5408

Senator Dan Gelber
Miami Beach (D-35th)
(850) 487-5121
Fax (850) 487-5225

Senator Mike Fasano
New Port Richey (R-11th)
(850) 487-5062
Fax (888) 263-4821

Senator Mike Haridopolos
Melbourne (R-26th)
(850) 487-5056
Fax (850) 487-5379

Senator Durell Peaden, Jr.
Crestview (R-2nd)
(850) 487-5000
Fax (850) 487-5276

Senator Garrett S. Richter
Naples (R-37th)
(850) 487-5124
Fax (888) 263-7893

Senator Jeremy Ring
Margate (D-32nd)
(850) 487-5094
Fax (888) 284-6602

After contacting members of the Judiciary Committee, please enter your zip code and send a message to your Representative and Senator. It will only take a minute.

Thank you.