Inside this issue
  Faithful Gather in Tallahassee for Catholic Days at the Capitol Activities  
  More than 300 Catholics from across Florida's seven dioceses gathered in Tallahassee this week for Catholic Days at the Capitol. Before attending meetings with legislators, participants were briefed on four important legislative proposals to discuss with their lawmakers: Unborn Victims of Violence, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Education Program, KidCare Expansion for Legal Immigrant Children, and Unanimous Jury Recommendation for a Death Sentence.

Group photos of Catholic Days participants with their bishop are now available online. Click here to access group photos. To view additional photos of Catholic Days activities, see the album on our Facebook page.

Pictured: Archdiocese of Miami participants

At Wednesday's Catholic Days luncheon, the bishops honored Senator Thad Altman, District 16, Melbourne, with the Defensor Vitae (Defender of Life) Award for his steadfast defense of the sanctity of life. Senator Rene Garcia, District 38, Hialeah, was presented with the Defensor Dignitatis (Defender of Dignity) Award for his consistent efforts to protect the human dignity of the residents of our state.

Pictured: Senator Garcia accepts his award.

Read the news release for more about the award recipients.

Pictured: Senator Altman between his wife and son pose with Bishop Noonan of Orlando.

Bishops of Florida Discuss Policy Issues with Governor Scott
While in Tallahassee for Catholic Days events, the bishops met with Governor Rick Scott to discuss public policy issues and priorities that allow for the flourishing of human life and dignity. The bishops have been meeting with governors for the past three decades. These annual meetings have helped to establish a respectful working relationship so that the Church and government can work together to serve Florida's neediest residents and enhance the common good.

Veni Sancte Spiritus - Come Holy Spirit
Catholic Days culminated Wednesday evening with the 39th annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by the bishops of Florida at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. Catholic Days at the Capitol participants, legislators and agency officials joined members of the community to pray for divine inspiration and guidance for all those serving in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Bishop Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg served as homilist and reminded all attendees to pay attention "when the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder." Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, District 116, Miami, and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner served as lectors.
Pictured L to R: Bishop Lynch, Rep. Diaz and Secretary Detzner
Mark your calendars now for Catholic Days at the Capitol,
March 3-4, 2015!


  House Committee Passes Bill Prohibiting Abortion of a Viable Fetus  
  On Thursday, FCCB staff indicated support for HB 1047 (Adkins), prior to its passage by the Health & Human Services Committee (12-5). This life-affirming bill revises the circumstances under which a pregnancy may be terminated, requires testing to determine if the unborn child in question has reached viability, and prohibits abortion clinics from aborting unborn babies who can survive outside of the womb. The bill will next be heard in the Judiciary Committee.

The companion, SB 918 (Flores), is on the agenda for the Senate Health Policy Committee next Tuesday.


  Immediate Access to KidCare for Legal Immigrant Children Moves in Senate  
  On Tuesday, SB 282 (Garcia) passed its first committee of reference, Health Policy (7-2). The measure removes the five-year waiting period to apply for the Florida KidCare Program for approximately 26,000 lawfully residing immigrant children, while still maintaining the exclusion of eligibility for undocumented immigrants of any age. The bill awaits a hearing by two additional committees before reaching the Senate floor. The companion, HB 7 (J. Diaz), also has two more committee stops.

This proposal is supported by the FCCB and was highlighted during Catholic Days at the Capitol.


  School Choice Proposal Gets a Second Chance  
  By combining expansion of the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program with a plan to create education spending accounts for special needs students, the House has breathed new life into a school choice measure thought to be dead after its withdrawal by the Senate last week.

EDAS3 seeks to increase the overall cap for the FTC Scholarship Program to allow 5,745 more students to be served this fall and also create "Personalized Accounts for Learning," similar to education savings accounts, for some students with disabilities. The proposal was submitted as a committee bill by the Education Appropriations Subcommittee (8-4) on Friday morning. FCCB Associate Director for Education, James Herzog, provided testimony in support of the bill.


March 28, 2014

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E-Update: Week 4

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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