By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Tues. Mar. 15, 2022: A bill named after a black, Caribbean American teen, who was murdered late last year in Florida, is likely to become law in the Sunshine state.
SB 898 or Miya’s Law recently unanimously passed both chambers of the Florida legislature and is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk. He is expected to sign the bill into law once received.
The bill is named after 19-year-old Miya Marcano, who was murdered last year by a maintenance worker at the apartment complex where she lived and worked while she attended college. She was reported missing Sept. 24, 2021, and her body was found 18 miles from her apartment on Oct. 2.
The bill seeks to improve tenant safety in apartment buildings by requiring several new safeguards be followed, primarily requiring that all apartment employers perform enhanced background screenings of their employees.
State Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando and Rep. Robin Bartleman of Weston, both Democrats, sponsored the bill.
Marcano’s death was ruled a “homicide by undetermined means.” Authorities connected her murder to a maintenance worker who had made countless unwanted romantic advances towards her, authorities said. He was found dead by suicide three days after she went missing, police reported during an investigation last year.
Marcano was the daughter of Trinidad and Tobago-born deejay, Marlon Marcano and British Virgin Islands born Yma Scarbriel. She graduated from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. She attended Valencia College in Orlando while she lived and worked at the Arden Villas, a gated apartment complex near the University of Central Florida.
While working in Arden Villas’ leasing office, she met the maintenance worker, whom detectives believe accessed her rental apartment using a master key fob system and killed her. There were no working cameras, and several other security concerns, her family says. They argue her death might have been prevented had a law like this been in place.
Her father, Marlon Marcano, told Local10.com, “I am overwhelmed. It is not going to change anything, but it will help other families in the future, so hopefully, they’ll never have to go through what we went through. Well, it wouldn’t give me my baby back, but what it does give is a level of hope that other families will feel safer in their home.”
The bill, if signed, will reinforce requirements related to access to individual units, increase the required notice to enter a unit to 24 hours, and require apartments to establish policies for the issuance and return of all master keys. It also will require those managing all rental apartments in Florida to maintain a key log to ensure that access is only given to authorized individuals at authorized times.
In addition to enhancing rental protections, it will prohibit rental units and lodging establishments from renting rooms by the hour in an effort to curb human trafficking.
Her loved ones co-founded the Miya Marcano Memorial Fund in an effort to provide support to families of missing persons and to increase renters’ safety.
It “aims to assist with ensuring that apartment complex and multi-unit dwellings are as safe as possible” and offers a Safe and Secure Accreditation Program. Companies can participate in the program that includes performing an audit conducted by a security accredited expert in the field.
“This bill will not bring Miya back, but it will bring a greater sense of security for Florida’s 2 million renters,” Rep/ Bartleman said. “Thank you to Miya’s family, the Miya Marcano Foundation, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and Representative Scott Plakon. This session has been so divisive, but when it comes to the safety of Floridians, of our college students moving into their first apartment or our seniors residing in apartment communities, this Legislature takes swift, bipartisan action. I urge Governor DeSantis to honor Miya’s name and sign this potentially lifesaving legislation into law.”
“Today marks an important milestone for Miya’s Law and bringing us one step closer to establishing vital protections for renters,” Rep. Stewart said. “Although Miya’s family will never get justice and nothing can bring back their daughter, I do hope with the passing of Miya’s Law this will bring some peace to the family and knowing that their daughter’s death was not in vain.”