At her funeral, Miya Marcano was described as having an unforgettable smile. Her death brought grief and shock to the Central Florida community.
In response, a bill named after Marcano was unanimously passed by the Florida House of Representatives.
The bill, proposed by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orange County, tightens apartment security measures by requiring criminal background checks on employees. Her goal is to make a tragedy like Marcano’s preventable.
Stewart’s bill also mandates that landlords develop policies that regulate the circulation of apartment keys and revise the time period of notice for repairs. Current Florida law requires that a tenant be notified of repairs at least 12 hours in advance; the bill changes that to 24 hours.
Before the final House vote, an amendment that banned hotels from allowing guests to book by the hour was approved. The amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Broward County, explained the amendment was added due to human trafficking and prostitution concerns.
Several weeks prior, Miya’s Law also passed the Florida Senate. The vote was also unanimous.
“Today marks an important milestone for Miya’s Law and brings us one step closer to establishing vital protections for renters and honoring Miya. I am honored to be able to carry this legislation that takes a first step in strengthening protections for renters,” Stewart said after the bill passed the Senate.
Marcano, who was a resident of the Arden Villas apartments near the University of Central Florida, was murdered last fall. The prime suspect is the apartment’s maintenance employee, Armando Manuel Caballero.
According to authorities, Caballero stalked Marcano and used a master key to access her apartment and kidnap her. Caballero committed suicide before he could be questioned by authorities.
“Miya’s Law is an important step forward for tenant safety, a top priority for the UCF students I represent, and I was proud to cosponsor this legislation alongside many of my colleagues,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, told the Florida Political Review. Smith represents the district where Marcano lived.
Smith, along with the members of the Florida Legislature and the community, hope that Miya’s Law will improve tenant safety.
“Miya’s Law will help ensure the protection and well-being of our most vulnerable population – further reassuring tenant safety and security within residential communities. Because of Miya’s Law, lives will be saved,” wrote the Miya Marcano Foundation. The nonprofit was founded by Marcano’s family with the mission of providing assistance to families of missing persons.
The bill is not Florida’s first attempt at tenant safety reform. Previous legislation from 2008 and 2018 also placed requirements on landlords to implement background safety checks on employees. Both bills died in committee.
Tenant safety remains an important issue in Florida. In the same month that Miya’s Law unanimously passed the Florida Legislature, a 70-year-old woman was raped by a mantainance worker in an Osceola County apartment. Court records show the maintenance worker, prior to employment, was a two-time convicted felon for battery.
“The unanimous passage of the bill by the Florida Legislature is a unique example of lawmakers putting the needs of their constituents above party politics. Hopefully, Miya Marcano and her family can rest well knowing the state of Florida has honored her with action,” said Smith.
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Featured image: Old office buildings along the Florida East Coast Railway in St. Augustine. Unmodified photo by Ebyabe used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3igKkad)