Inside this issue
  Governors Signs FCCB Supported Bills into Law  
  Governor Scott has acted upon all bills sent to him by the Florida legislature as a result of this year's session. Recently-signed bills supported and monitored by the Conference include:

HB 1047 - Restrictions on Abortion After Viability (Supported)
Prohibits the termination of a viable fetus with exceptions for life and irreversible physical impairment of the mother.
HB 59 - Unborn Victims of Violence (Supported)
Declares that a person who commits a crime against a pregnant woman that causes the death of, or injury to, her unborn child commits a separate criminal offense against the child.

HB 7141 - Safe Houses (Supported)
Provides criteria for placement and assessment of sexually exploited children and requires certification of safe houses.
HB 989 - Victim Assistance (Supported)
Provides assistance for relocation and compensation for human trafficking victims, prohibits the employment of minors in adult theaters, and improves public records procedures and regulations for trafficking victims. 

HB 851 - In-State Tuition (Supported)
Provides more affordable access to higher education for certain groups, including many children of undocumented resident immigrants; expands tuition waivers for combat award recipients; and restricts automatic cost increases for state universities.
SB 850 - School Choice (Supported)
Provides greater access to Florida Tax Credit (FTC) scholarships by removing the requirement for prior public school attendance for children in grades 6-12; raising annual income limits for participation; and increasing the scholarship amount per pupil. Also creates personal learning accounts for some students with disabilities.

HB 7035 - Juvenile Sentencing (Monitored)
Eliminates mandatory life sentences for most juveniles who were under the age of eighteen at the time of their offense by revising sentencing guidelines and providing for sentence reviews.

HB 979 - Service to Homeless Persons (Monitored)
Makes changes to training and funding as they relate to serving the homeless.
SB 260 - Certified Homeless Youth (Supported)
Authorizes homeless youth who are at least 16 years old and not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian to consent to their own care and the care of their children; such consent does not affect the Parental Notice of Abortion Act.

For the final status of additional bills engaged by the FCCB, see our final legislative bill report.


  FCCB Launches 2014 Candidate Questionnaire Project  

Whether on Election Day, during early voting or by absentee ballot, casting our votes responsibly requires us to be informed. When it comes to marking the ballot, reconciling politics with the basic values of the Gospel and the tenets of our Catholic faith can be difficult. If we take the time to become familiar with the candidates' positions on issues of importance to us, we are better prepared to address this challenge.

Each election cycle, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops conducts the Candidate Questionnaire Project to assist Catholics and the broader community with the obligation to become informed voters. Knowing where the candidates stand on issues concerning human life and dignity and the advancement of the common good is essential to responsible faithful citizenship.

All U.S. Congressional and Florida gubernatorial and legislative candidates appearing on the ballot in the primary and/or general elections have been invited to participate in a questionnaire. Candidates have been asked to identify whether they support or oppose a range of issues of importance to the Church. Although the questionnaires do not address every area of concern, care has been taken to identify those issues likely to be acted on by lawmakers and the governor during the coming term.Candidate positions on issues are gathered for informational purposes only and are not used for endorsement of any candidate or political party.

We have just begun to receive responses from candidates. Candidates running in the Primary Election have until July 29 to submit their responses. The deadline for General Election candidates is October 7. Responses are posted on our website as they are received: Please check back often as additonal responses are received and posted.

Bulletin inserts with all responses received by the deadlines will be made available on our website. Inserts for the Primary Election will be available July 31, and for the General Election, October 9.

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching for the Primary Election
All voters must be registered by July 28 in order to vote in the August 26 Primary Election. Citizens have a right and a duty to participate in the electoral process. Parishioners who are not registered to vote for the upcoming elections are encouraged to do so. This can be accomplished by visiting the website of the Florida Division of Elections, Follow the instructions for completing and mailing a voter registration form. You will receive a voter registration card in the mail to confirm your registration. Follow this same procedure to update your name or address or change your party affiliation.


  Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby Decision Advances Religious Freedom  
  Michael B. Sheedy, executive director, Florida Catholic Conference, issued the following statement June 30 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood case involving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate:

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood is a positive development for religious freedom. The Court recognizes that Americans may continue to follow their faith as they operate family businesses. The Green and Hahn families will not have to face devastating fines for holding to their religious convictions as they earn their livelihood and continue to provide generous health benefits for their employees."

"The decision does not address the effects of the mandate when applied to faith-based charities, hospitals and schools. We are hopeful that these ministries will prevail in their cases before the courts."

Neither the Greens nor the Hahns are Catholic; their lawsuits did not relate to all contraceptives but only to four abortion-inducing drugs and devices. It's notable that these families who offer employee health insurance but object to four items would have been subjected to a fine of $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee, while the fee for employers who offer no health care coverage is $2,000 a year per employee.


  New Catholic School Scholarship Opportunity  
  The legislature this year has provided a new opportunity for parents of K-12 students. All families who meet certain low-income guidelines can now apply for 2014-2015 Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarships whether or not their children attended public school the prior year. Thousands of scholarships have already been awarded for the upcoming school year. The online application deadline for scholarships up to $5,272 per child is July 15, 2014. For more information and to apply, visit  


  Plea to Commute Death Sentence of Eddie Wayne Davis: Prayer Vigils Scheduled  
  The Florida Catholic Conference appeals to Governor Rick Scott to commute the sentence of Eddie Wayne Davis to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Davis is scheduled to be executed at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 10, 2014, for the 1994 Polk County murder of 11-year-old Kimberly Shultz, his girlfriend's daughter. We join in prayer for the condemned, his victim and their families.

The Conference acknowledges the gravity of the crimes for which Mr. Davis has been found guilty and supports the need for strict sentencing in cases of violent crime. However, taking another life perpetuates the cycle of violence and vengeance. A life sentence without possibility of parole imparts a severe and just punishment while maintaining protection for society.

We have consistently called for a culture of life that respects the inherent dignity of all persons, including those on death row and others who have done great harm. The Gospel reminds us that it is easy to love those who love us and do good to those who have done good to us. Yet we are called to "love your enemies and do good to them." The Lord "himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35-36)

Community Called to Prayer
Catholic faithful and members of the community are invited to gather in solidarity to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for persons on death row awaiting execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty. Click here for a list of prayer services in Florida's dioceses.


July 3, 2014

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Words of Wisdom

"I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots - and not simply the appearances - of the evils in our world! Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good."

Pope Francis
Evangelii Gaudium, no. 205

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