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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title XVII
MILITARY AFFAIRS AND RELATED MATTERS
Chapter 251
FLORIDA STATE GUARD ACT
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F.S. 251.001
251.001 Florida State Guard Act.
(1) SHORT TITLE AND SCOPE.This chapter may be cited as the “Florida State Guard Act.” This chapter shall be supplemental to provisions relating to the organized militia in chapter 250 other than the Florida National Guard.
(2) CREATION AND AUTHORIZATION.The Florida State Guard is created to protect and defend the people of Florida from all threats to public safety and to augment all existing state and local agencies. The Florida State Guard is created as authorized under federal law for use exclusively within the state, activated only by the Governor, and is at all times under the final command and control of the Governor as commander in chief of all military and guard forces of the state. The Florida State Guard shall be used exclusively within the state, or to provide support to other states, for the purposes stated in this section and may not be called, ordered, or drafted into the armed forces of the United States. The authorized maximum number of volunteer personnel that may be commissioned, enrolled, or employed as members of the Florida State Guard is 1,500.
(3) DIVISION OF THE STATE GUARD.The Division of the State Guard is created within the Department of Military Affairs and shall be headed by a director who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. The director must have served at least 5 years as a servicemember of the United States Armed Forces, United States Reserve Forces, or Florida National Guard. The division shall be a separate budget entity, and the director shall be its agency head for all purposes. The Department of Military Affairs shall provide administrative support and service to the division to the extent requested by the director. The division shall not be subject to control, supervision, or direction by the Department of Military Affairs in any manner, including, but not limited to, personnel, purchasing, transactions involving real or personal property, and budgetary matters. The division is responsible for the organization, recruitment, training, equipping, management, and functions of the Florida State Guard. The director may establish a command, operational, and administrative services structure to assist, manage, and support the Florida State Guard in operating the program and delivering services.
(4) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section:
(a) The terms “active duty,” “armed forces,” and “National Guard” have the same meanings as in s. 250.01.
(b) The term “department” means the Department of Military Affairs.
(c) The term “director” means the director of the Division of the State Guard.
(d) The term “division” means the Division of the State Guard within the Department of Military Affairs.
(5) PERSONNEL.
(a) Subject to approval by the Governor, the director shall determine the number of volunteer personnel necessary to meet the staffing and operational requirements of the Florida State Guard, and determine the volunteer structure and number of volunteer personnel within each component unit of such structure.
(b) The Governor shall commission all volunteer personnel of the Florida State Guard.
(c) Each applicant for the Florida State Guard shall meet the following qualifications:
1. The applicant must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of the state.
2. The applicant may not have a felony conviction. Each applicant shall submit a complete set of fingerprints and all information required by state and federal law to process fingerprints for purposes of conducting a criminal background check.
3. The applicant may not be an active duty servicemember, a member of the armed forces reserves, or a member of the Florida National Guard.
4. If the applicant is a former member of the armed forces or of any military or naval organization of this state or another state, the applicant must have been separated under terms no less than a general discharge under honorable conditions.
(d) The director shall establish minimum standards for the age, physical and health condition, and physical fitness of applicants based upon the component unit of the Florida State Guard structure in which the applicant is being considered for placement. However, an applicant being considered for placement in a component unit that serves in an active duty capacity within the Florida State Guard must be subject to standards that are no less than the standards required for recruitment, enrollment, and retention in the Florida National Guard.
(e) The director shall develop and implement a code of regulations for the administration and discipline of members of the Florida State Guard that shall provide no less protection and impose no more severe sanctions than as provided in s. 250.35, except that the director shall not have authority to impose any term of incarceration.
(6) SPECIALIZED UNIT.The director shall organize a specialized unit within the Florida State Guard. All members of the specialized unit are vested with the authority to bear arms, detect, and apprehend while activated. In addition to the requirements set forth in paragraph (5)(c), only those members of the specialized unit who meet the requirements in s. 943.13 and are certified as law enforcement officers as defined in s. 943.10(1) are authorized to have the same law enforcement authority as the law enforcement agency in conjunction with which they are working when activated.
(7) TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT.The director shall develop and implement a program for training for members of the Florida State Guard.
(a) All training programs for the Florida State Guard shall be at least equivalent to the training requirements for members of the Florida National Guard under applicable federal law at the time the training is conducted. As required by the director, all members of the Florida State Guard shall complete initial training within 180 days after their appointment or enrollment and periodic ongoing training.
(b) The director may provide for staff to prepare and conduct training required in this section. The staff may include members of the Florida National Guard whose duty assignments may include conducting training under this section but who may not be considered members of the Florida State Guard.
(c) The division shall provide all equipment necessary for the training and service of members of the Florida State Guard and shall arrange and contract for the use of sufficient and adequate facilities for training, organizing, and all other purposes of the Florida State Guard. Section 250.44 applies to the allocation, delegation, use of, and accounting for all equipment furnished under this section.
(8) ACTIVATION AND DEACTIVATION OF THE FLORIDA STATE GUARD.
(a) The Florida State Guard, by component units or in total, may be activated by order of the Governor:
1. During any period when any part of the Florida National Guard is in active federal service and the Governor has declared a state of emergency;
2. To preserve the public peace, execute the laws of the state, enhance domestic security, respond to terrorist threats or attacks, protect and defend the people of Florida from threats to public safety, respond to an emergency as defined in s. 252.34 or imminent danger thereof, or respond to any need for emergency aid to civil authorities as specified in s. 252.38;
3. To augment any existing state or local agency; or
4. To provide support to other states under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact as provided for in part III of chapter 252.
(b) The Florida State Guard shall be deactivated by the expiration of the order of activation or by a separate order by the Governor deactivating the Florida State Guard.
(9) REIMBURSEMENT AND COMPENSATION.
(a) The division shall reimburse members of the Florida State Guard for per diem and travel expenses incurred to attend required training or in the course of active service as provided in s. 112.061.
(b) Members of the Florida State Guard may be compensated for time spent training or in the course of active service at rates established by the director, subject to appropriation.
(c) A member of the Florida State Guard may not make any purchase or enter into any contract or agreement for purchases or services as a charge against the state without the authority of the director.
(10) EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION, SUSPENSION OF PROCEEDINGS, LIABILITY, AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION.
(a) The protections for members of the Florida National Guard provided in ss. 250.48-250.483 and 250.5201-250.5205 apply to each member of the Florida State Guard engaged in required training or active service.
(b) Members of the Florida State Guard ordered into active service or engaged in required training are not liable for any lawful act done in performance of their duties under this section while acting in good faith within the scope of those duties.
(c) While activated or in training, members of the Florida State Guard are considered volunteers for the state, as defined in s. 440.02(18)(d)6., and are entitled to workers’ compensation protections pursuant to chapter 440.
(11) RULEMAKING AUTHORITY.The director, as head of the division, shall adopt rules to implement this section.
History.s. 80, ch. 2022-157; s. 55, ch. 2023-8; s. 3, ch. 2023-167.