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  • Matthew Walzer

Supported Decision Making Bill Expected to Become Law




Michael Lincoln-McCreight holds a paper proclamation from the Mayor of Orlando declaring March 14, 2023, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Orlando. Michael has dark brown hair. He is wearing a blue shirt and jeans.
Michael Lincoln-McCreight, the first person in Florida to have a guardianship terminated based upon a Supported Decision Making agreement holds a proclamation from the Mayor of Orlando declaring March 14, 2023, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Orlando. Michael is also the leader of FL SAND's self-advocacy group in Orlando.

After years of advocacy, the Florida Legislature passed a Supported Decision-Making (SDM) bill March 4 that, if signed by the Governor, will require judges to consider SDM as an alternative to guardianship.

 

The intent of the bill is to ensure that more Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be afforded the opportunity to make their own decisions with the support of people that they trust and who know them, rather than being assigned a state appointed guardian. The bill received unanimous support from state legislators.

 

The bill was sponsored by House Representative Allison Tant and Senator Corey Simon and is currently pending signature by Governor Ron DeSantis. Despite the bill being filed in September of 2023, the origins of this bill go back over a decade. 

 

In 2014, the life of Michael Lincoln-McCreight changed in nearly an instant when, without any say of his own, Michael was deemed incapacitated by a circuit court judge and had his rights stripped away from him. He was appointed a state guardian, who controlled much of Michael’s relationships and life, bringing an otherwise thriving life to a halt.

 

In 2016, frustrated, and wanting his independence and freedom back, Michael contacted Disability Rights Florida, who assisted him in getting his guardianship terminated by a judge, and giving Michael the power of independence back. Michael is the first person in Florida to have his rights restored with a SDM agreement. Read more about Michael’s story here.


According to the Arc of Florida’s March 2024 newsletter, the bill requires Florida circuit courts to “assess the individual needs and abilities of those with developmental disabilities when deciding on the appointment of guardian advocates, and only delegating decision-making tasks the individual is unable to execute independently.” The bill also requires SDM be included in transition to postsecondary education and career planning.


Thanks to Michael’s heroic advocacy and the support of friends, other self-advocates, and especially Disability Rights Florida that has worked tirelessly to see SDM come to pass in Florida, the rights of all Floridians with developmental disabilities will have an stronger layer of protection and voices will not just be listened to but heard in regard to their rights to make decisions for themselves, with the support of trusted advisors when needed. Today Michael works at Universal Orlando and is leader of MAGICAL, FL SAND's self-advocacy group in central Florida.

 

You can learn more about SDM on Disability Rights Florida’s website.


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