Florida Senate - 2020 SB 220 By Senator Cruz 18-00114-20 2020220__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to abandoned cemeteries; creating the 3 Task Force on Abandoned African-American Cemeteries; 4 specifying the purpose of the task force; requiring 5 the Department of State to provide administrative and 6 staff support; specifying the composition of the task 7 force; providing meeting requirements; prescribing 8 duties of the task force; requiring the task force to 9 submit a report to the Governor and Legislature by a 10 specified date; providing for expiration of the task 11 force; requiring the department to partner with the 12 University of South Florida to undertake an 13 investigation of the former Zion Cemetery site; 14 requiring certain historical resources, records, 15 archives, artifacts, research, medical records, and 16 human remains to remain in the custody of the 17 University of South Florida; providing exceptions; 18 requiring the department to contract with the 19 university for the identification and location of 20 eligible next of kin of certain persons; requiring the 21 department to notify the next of kin of certain 22 payment or reimbursement provisions; requiring the 23 department to reimburse the next of kin of persons 24 whose bodies are buried and exhumed at the former Zion 25 Cemetery or to pay directly to a provider for the 26 costs associated with funeral services, reinterment, 27 and grave marker expenses; providing a process for 28 reimbursement or payment by the department; providing 29 that a charitable donation made toward funeral, 30 reinterment, and grave marker expenses is not eligible 31 for reimbursement; requiring the department to submit 32 a report to the Governor, Cabinet, and Legislature by 33 a specified date; authorizing the department to adopt 34 rules; providing appropriations; providing an 35 effective date. 36 37 WHEREAS, until the conclusion of the Civil War, millions of 38 African Americans in the United States, including Florida, were 39 enslaved, and 40 WHEREAS, following the end of slavery, African Americans 41 continued to be subject to various discriminatory practices, 42 including restrictions on burying the dead which resulted in 43 segregated cemeteries and burial grounds, and 44 WHEREAS, unlike predominantly white cemeteries and burial 45 grounds, African-American cemeteries and burial grounds were not 46 subject to regulations and recordkeeping necessary to protect 47 the dignity of the deceased, and 48 WHEREAS, as a result, many abandoned African-American 49 cemeteries and burial grounds have been inadvertently discovered 50 following years of disrepair and neglect when land is being 51 redeveloped or has been sold, and 52 WHEREAS, to this day, abandoned African-American cemeteries 53 throughout this state continue to be uncovered, as evidenced by 54 a June 2019 report in the Tampa Bay Times regarding the former 55 Zion Cemetery site in the Tampa Heights neighborhood of the City 56 of Tampa, and 57 WHEREAS, the State of Florida recognizes its obligation to 58 identify and properly record abandoned African-American 59 cemeteries and burial grounds in order to preserve history, 60 better inform development decisions, and ensure dignity and 61 respect for the deceased, NOW, THEREFORE, 62 63 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 64 65 Section 1. (1) The Task Force on Abandoned African-American 66 Cemeteries, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8), Florida 67 Statutes, is created adjunct to the Department of State for the 68 express purpose of studying the extent to which unmarked or 69 abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds exist 70 throughout the state and developing and recommending strategies 71 for identifying and recording cemeteries and burial grounds 72 while also preserving local history and ensuring dignity and 73 respect for the deceased. Except as otherwise provided in this 74 section, the task force shall operate in a manner consistent 75 with s. 20.052, Florida Statutes. The department shall provide 76 administrative and staff support relating to the functions of 77 the task force. 78 (2) The task force is composed of the following members: 79 (a) The Secretary of State, or his or her designee, who 80 shall serve as chair. 81 (b) A representative of the Bureau of Archaeological 82 Research of the Division of Historical Resources, appointed by 83 the Secretary of State. 84 (c) One person nominated by the President of the Florida 85 State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement 86 of Colored People and appointed by the Secretary of State. 87 (d) One representative of the Florida Council of Churches, 88 nominated by the executive director of the council and appointed 89 by the Secretary of State. 90 (e) One representative of the Florida African American 91 Heritage Preservation Network, nominated by the executive 92 director of the network and appointed by the Secretary of State. 93 (f) One representative of the Florida Public Archaeology 94 Network, appointed by the Secretary of State. 95 (g) One representative of the cemetery industry, appointed 96 by the Secretary of State. 97 (3) The task force shall hold its first meeting by August 98 1, 2020. The task force may meet as many times as it deems 99 necessary to complete the duties prescribed in this section. 100 (4) The task force shall: 101 (a) Review the findings and recommendations made by the 102 Task Force on Abandoned and Neglected Cemeteries created 103 pursuant to chapter 98-268, Laws of Florida, and any legislative 104 or administrative action that was taken in response to the task 105 force’s findings and recommendations. 106 (b) Examine the adequacy of current practices regarding the 107 preservation of unmarked and abandoned African-American 108 cemeteries and burial grounds and identify any challenges unique 109 to African-American cemeteries and burial grounds. 110 (c) Identify locations of unmarked and abandoned African 111 American cemeteries and burial grounds throughout the state and 112 propose strategies, including any proposed legislation, for the 113 preservation and evaluation of such sites. 114 (d) Make recommendations regarding the creation, placement, 115 and maintenance of a memorial at the site of the former Zion 116 Cemetery in Tampa and the location of a site for the reinterment 117 of any unidentified or unclaimed remains that are retrieved from 118 the former Zion Cemetery site. 119 (5) By March 1, 2021, the task force shall submit a report 120 detailing its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the 121 President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of 122 Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the 123 Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. 124 (6) This section expires July 1, 2021. 125 Section 2. (1)(a) Upon receiving consent of the property 126 owners at the former Zion Cemetery site in Tampa, the Department 127 of State shall partner with the University of South Florida to 128 initiate an investigation to determine how many graves remain at 129 the site. 130 (b) Any historical resource, record, archive, artifact, 131 public research, or medical record that is recovered through the 132 course of the investigation by the University of South Florida 133 shall remain in the custody of the university for archiving and 134 preservation until the Department of State requests custody of 135 such resource, record, archive, artifact, public research, or 136 medical record. 137 (c) Any human remains exhumed from the former Zion Cemetery 138 site shall remain in the custody of the university for 139 identification purposes until the remains are returned to the 140 next of kin or reburied pursuant to this act. 141 (2)(a) The Department of State shall contract with the 142 University of South Florida for the identification and location 143 of eligible next of kin of any recovered human remains and the 144 update of information on associated artifacts and materials. 145 (b) No later than January 1, 2021, the University of South 146 Florida shall provide the Department of State with contact 147 information for the next of kin for each set of human remains 148 which has been returned to a next of kin. 149 (c) For any identification of next of kin occurring on or 150 after January 1, 2021, the University of South Florida must 151 provide location information of the next of kin to the 152 Department of State at least 5 days before returning the human 153 remains to the next of kin. 154 (d) Beginning January 1, 2021, the Department of State must 155 notify the next of kin responsible for a set of human remains 156 about the payment or reimbursement provisions specified in 157 subsection (3). Such notification must be made within 15 158 business days after the department’s receipt of the location 159 information of the next of kin. 160 (3) The Department of State shall reimburse the next of kin 161 or pay directly to the provider up to $7,500 for funeral, 162 reinterment, and grave marker expenses for each person whose 163 body was buried at and exhumed, or otherwise recovered, from the 164 former Zion Cemetery site. 165 (a) In order to receive reimbursement, the next of kin must 166 submit to the Department of State receipts for, or documentation 167 of, expenses. Reimbursement must be made pursuant to s. 215.422, 168 Florida Statutes. 169 (b) If expenses are to be paid directly to the provider, 170 the funeral home or other similar entity must submit an invoice 171 to the Department of State for the cost of the person’s funeral, 172 reinterment, and grave marker expenses. Payment must be made 173 pursuant to s. 215.422, Florida Statutes. 174 (c) A charitable donation made toward funeral, reinterment, 175 and grave marker expenses is not eligible for reimbursement. 176 (4) By February 1, 2022, the Department of State shall 177 submit a report to the Governor and Cabinet, the President of 178 the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives 179 regarding any payments and reimbursements made pursuant to this 180 section. 181 (5) The Department of State may adopt rules necessary to 182 administer this section. 183 Section 3. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the sum of 184 $500,000 in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General 185 Revenue Fund to the Department of State for the purpose of 186 implementing this act. Of such sum, $50,000 shall be allocated 187 for the creation, placement, and maintenance of a memorial at 188 the site of the former Zion Cemetery in Tampa, and $450,000 189 shall be allocated to the Bureau of Archaeological Research of 190 the Division of Historical Resources for costs associated with 191 the disinterment and reinterment of any remains retrieved at the 192 former Zion Cemetery site. Any funds remaining unexpended or 193 unencumbered from this appropriation as of July 1, 2021, revert 194 and shall be reappropriated for the same purpose in the 2021 195 2022 fiscal year. 196 Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.