'Miya's Law' filed in Florida Senate to improve apartment safety following teen's killing

'We really think that this is a no-brainer,' says Jodi Lewis, Miya Marcano Foundation board member
Posted at 4:29 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 16:29:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The death of an Orlando teen may lead to improved apartment safety in the Sunshine State.

Lawmakers Friday morning filed Miya's Law, which was prompted by the killing of 19-year-old Miya Marcano earlier this year.

Police believe a maintenance worker attacked and killed Marcano at her home in September. They said he was able to gain access with a master key — despite having a criminal background.

Family and friends have since formed the Miya Marcano Foundation. Their goal has been, in part, to push for change and seek more stringent apartment security standards to prevent a future tragedy.

Miya Marcano, teen killed by maintenance worker at Orlando apartment complex
Miya Marcano's body was found on Oct. 2 after she was reported missing in September.

"We have put together what I consider to be a really good bipartisan bill," said Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, who filed SB 898.

Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston, plans to file a companion measure in the House in the coming days.

If approved, Miya's Law would make several changes:

  • Require apartments to do background checks on all employees using national databases
  • Landlords would be able to disqualify those convicted of violent or sexual crimes for employment
  • Require apartments to create and maintain logs for keys and increase unit entry notices from 12 to 24 hours
Sen. Linda Stewart speaks about Miya's Law
Sen. Linda Stewart filed a bill for Miya's Law on Nov. 12, 2021.

"I can't always be 100% that we're going to catch everything that goes on," Stewart said. "But, I think that had all of these things been in place, we might have had a chance to catch what was happening here in central Florida and what happened to Miya."

Stewart said the legislation already had some Republican support and the approval of key stakeholders like the Florida Apartment Association.

In a statement, the FAA said the bill "would codify industry best practices related to employee background screening and apartment access protocols."

Jodi Lewis, Miya Marcano Foundation
Jodi Lewis is optimistic that lawmakers will pass the bill.

Marcano's parents and the members of the Marcano Foundation also spoke with Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez on Friday. They urged the administration to back the bill as well.

"I got a sense that she's definitely supportive of, you know, seeing things come into place to keep residents safe and secure," said Foundation Board Member Jodi Lewis. "We really think that this is a no-brainer because it affects all of us in some way, shape or form."

The Legislature will get its say when members return for the regular session in January.