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Vehicle break-in rescue bill clears final committee

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A proposal (HB 131) that would allow people to break into sweltering vehicles to rescue other people or animals is ready for the House floor after a change Thursday that broadened its language.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the measure by Majority Leader Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, that would shield people from civil liability if they break into vehicles because other people or pets are locked inside.

The bill would require rescuers to contact local law enforcement and also wait for first responders to arrive.

The bill initially applied to rescues of people who are elderly, disabled adults or minors or to rescues of domestic animals, but an amendment attached to the measure Thursday would broaden it to "vulnerable" individuals.

The Senate version (SB 308) was unanimously approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday and awaits a final committee appearance before the Rules Committee.

The bills could be passed during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.