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Law Enforcement Recruitment Bill Backed

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Gov. Ron DeSantis' request to dangle $5,000 bonuses as a tool to recruit law-enforcement officers from other states is heading to his desk.

With little comment, the House voted 114-3 on Thursday to agree with changes the Senate made in a bill (HB 3) dealing with law-enforcement issues.

The Senate voted 34-0 earlier Thursday, after changing the package Wednesday to allow county sheriffs to transfer money within their budgets after the spending plans have been approved by county commissions.

The amendment emerged after a legal battle over an attempt by then-Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell to shift money within her budget.

The Florida Supreme Court in January ruled that the money couldn't be shifted without approval from the county commission.

Sen. Ed Hooper, a Clearwater Republican who spearheaded the Senate amendment, argued Wednesday the change is an attempt to "preserve the independence of the sheriffs."

The primary aim of the bill is to attract law-enforcement officers from across the country through one-time payments of up to $5,000.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity would be directed to develop minimum eligibility requirements for newly employed officers to get bonus payments, while the bill also sets up a Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover basic-training tuition and fees for new officers.

The proposal also would make $10,000 available to law enforcement officers who adopt children through the state child-welfare system, with the benefit increasing to $25,000 for adoptions involving children with special needs.

Sheriffs, under the bill, also would see their base salaries increase by $5,000 a year.

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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