Inside this issue
  Catholic Charities Directors Convene in Tallahassee to Advocate for Human Dignity  
  Directors of Catholic Charities offices from the seven dioceses in Florida met in Tallahassee on Monday and Tuesday to advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations before members of the legislature. The directors, joined by FCCB staff, met with lawmakers to discuss proposed legislation that seeks to address the plight of the homeless, immigrants, and victims of human trafficking. On Tuesday, the directors were recognized in the Senate gallery by Senator Anitere Flores.

Pictured above L to R: Sheila Gomez, Diocese of Palm Beach; Dr. Richard Turcotte, Archdiocese of Miami; Rep. Ray Pilon, District 72, Sarasota; Ingrid Delgado, FCCB, Associate for Social Concerns/Respect Life; Peter Routsis-Arroyo, Diocese of Venice.

The following issue sheets provide information on proposals discussed with legislators and supported by the FCCB:
Homelessness - SB 1090 (Latvala) / HB 979 (Peters)
Human Trafficking - SB 1140, 1436, 1426 (Flores) / HB 1017, 1019, 1021 (Spano)
Resident Status for Tuition Purposes - SB 1400 (Latava) / HB 851 (Nuñez)
KidCare Expansion for Legal Immigrant Children - HB 7 (Diaz, J.) / SB 282 (Garcia)

Additionally, while in town the directors discussed the work of Catholic Charities of Florida to assist individuals and local communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.


  Juvenile Sentencing Moves in Both House and Senate  
  Measures seeking to reconcile two U.S. Supreme Court rulings with Florida statutes that address juvenile sentencing guidelines were passed by both House and Senate committees this week.

On Tuesday, HB 7035 (Criminal Justice Subcommittee) was passed by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (11-2). For juveniles under the age of eighteen at the time of the offense, the bill provides for periodic reviews after 25 years for homicide cases, except for capital homicides, and after 20 years for non-homicide offenses. In capital cases, the bill requires judges to consider certain factors before determining whether or not a life sentence is appropriate. When the judge decides against a life sentence, the bill requires a minimum 30 year sentence, with no review. HB 7035 now waits to be heard in Judiciary.

The companion bill, SB 384 (Bradley), was passed by its last committee of reference, Senate Appropriations (14-3), on Thursday. This bill is now available to be heard on the House floor.

The FCCB continues to seek meaningful and periodic review for all juvenile offenders.


  Bills Providing Help for Victims of Human Trafficking Pass First Hurdles in House  
  Three human trafficking bills supported by the FCCB were heard in House committees this week:

HB 989 (Trujillo) unanimously passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Monday. The bill amends the definition of "sexual abuse of a child" to include human trafficking. It also allows for victims of human trafficking to file compensation claims and seek financial relocation assistance. Companion SB 768 (Braynon) waits to be heard in its first committee of reference.

HB 1019 (Spano), which unanimously passed the Healthy Families Subcommittee on Wednesday, helps to ensure the safety of trafficking victims who have sought refuge in safe houses. The bill provides for an exemption from public records laws information that might endanger those victims by revealing the locations of the safe houses. Its companion, SB 1436 (Flores), has yet to be heard in committee.

HFS2 (Healthy Families) was submitted as a committee bill on Wednesday. The bill changes requirements for safe houses and allows for the implementation of a safe house pilot program by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The measure also establishes screening, assessment, employee training, and case management requirements for those treating sexually exploited children and requires the existence of local human trafficking task forces. Senate companion, SB 7088 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs), is on the agenda for Tuesday, March 18.

The U.S. Department of State estimates that there were approximately 40,000 human trafficking victims nationwide in 2012. Florida is estimated to have the third highest rate of human trafficking among the states, following New York and California.


  In-State Tuition for Immigrant Children Clears House Committees  
  FCCB-supported bill, CS/HB 851 (Nuñez) was passed by House Appropriations (19-7). The bill provides that a U.S. citizen may not be denied classification as a resident for tuition purposes at Florida colleges and universities based solely upon the immigration status of his or her parents. Additionally, the measure allows undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition if they attend a high school in Florida for at least three years and apply for college within two years of graduation. Referring to undocumented students who were brought to this country at a young age by their parents, bill sponsor Representative Jeanette Nuñez quoted the Bible during closing remarks, "The child shall not share in the guilt of their parent, nor shall the parent share in the guilt of their child". (cf Ezekiel 18:20) The bill will go next to the full House.

Senate companion, SB 1400 (Latvala), is scheduled to be heard by its first committee of reference, Education, on Tuesday, March 18.


  Senate Committee Passes Bill to Allow for Expansion of Cemetery Ministries  
  SB 512 (Flores) allows an expansion of the current 5-acre cap on new religious institution cemeteries to accommodate the needs of today's faith communities. Provisons of the bill provide for certain consumer protections, including requiring significant funds be maintained in order to cover maintenance and pre-need agreements, while ensuring reasonable freedom of religion for church ministries that wish to serve their members through the corporal work of mercy of burying the dead. Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, provided testimony in support of this bill prior to its passage by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee (8-1) on Thursday. A letter to Senator Kelli Stargel, chair, and committee members identified the FCCB's position on the bill.

Companion, HB 423 (Hudson), is now in the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, its first committee of reference.


March 14, 2014

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E-Update: Week 2

Each Friday during the 60-day session, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) provides a summary of activity on priority bills and other items of interest at the Capitol.

For the current status of bills closely monitored by the FCCB, see our legislative bill report, which is updated on a daily basis.

The 2014 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began Tuesday, March 4 and is scheduled to conclude Friday, May 2.

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