House Panel Targets 'Sober Homes'

Feb 7, 2018

Florida would require additional background screening for operators of controversial recovery residences known as “sober homes,” under a bill that cleared a House panel Tuesday.

The vote by the state House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee came as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the inspectors general at the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services asking them to investigate claims of kickbacks and false statements stemming from sober homes.

The House panel unanimously passed the bill (HB 1069), filed by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, and Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, after adding an amendment that made the background screening requirements effective for people who are screened on or after July 1.

Hager said changes made Tuesday would bring the measure closer to the Senate version (SB 1418). Hager said the increased regulations are needed and that anyone who joined him on a walk through his Palm Beach County where sober homes are located would hear “cat calls directed at 10-year-old girls.

“You’d see soiled mattresses being thrown out of the second floor of some of the sober homes at midnight. You’d see disoriented individuals walking aimlessly,” Hager said. “You’d see death, death in the form of 21-year-olds left in cheap motels to die alone and deposited there by those who have deserted them.”

The bill is slated to next go to the House Health & Human Services Committee.