A bill that would expedite emancipation for homeless youth and another that provides a way for Floridians to donate a dollar for programs to help the homeless when registering vehicles and renewing their driver’s licenses passed unanimously on the House floor today.

Both bills received a round of applause from members upon their passage.

The bill addressing homeless youth was drafted by students as part of the “Ought to be a Law” student bill-drafting competition. The law would allows homeless minors taking care of themselves a faster way to emancipate themselves from their parents. In effect, it would help homeless young people get jobs and do things that routinely require a parent’s consent.

The homelessness fundraising bill, which was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, was part of a bipartisan effort “to raise awareness and funding to help combat homelessness.”

Florida is currently facing a growing problem with homelessness. Late last year, the issue received national attention when 60 Minutes took a hard look at a county in central Florida that reported 1,100 homeless students in its K-12 schools. The program also reported that “of all the families without shelter in America, one third are in Florida.”

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed  $12 million last year from the state’s general revenue fund that was earmarked for the National Veterans’ Homeless Support Group for “homeless housing assistance grants.” This year, the House eliminated funding in its budget for local homeless coalitions. However, the state Senate reinstated the funding.

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