Inside this issue
  FCCB Welcomes Florida Supreme Court Stay of Scheduled Execution  
  Thursday, February 26 was to be the day of the 22nd execution in Florida since Governor Scott took office in January 2011.  However, the execution of Jerry Correll will not take place as scheduled due to a stay granted by the Florida Supreme Court in a 5 to 2 opinion.

The Court's decision is based upon Florida's use of the drug midazolam in its lethal injection protocol.  The use of the drug is being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the Oklahoma case Glossip v. Gross.  The drug protocol used in Florida is nearly identical to that used in Oklahoma. 

U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments are scheduled for April, and a decision is expected in June.  Because of the current stay and the pending case in the nation's highest court, it is unlikely that there will be further executions in Florida until the decision is announced.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) welcomes the stay and urge the faithful to continue to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, the perpetrators of violent crimes and their families, and the end of the use of the death penalty.


  Bill Providing Access to Care for Lawfully-Residing Immigrant Children Passes First Committee  
  The FCCB advocates that all children living in Florida deserve the same chance at a healthy and productive start in life. However, under current law, immigrant children are forced to wait 5 years before becoming eligible for Florida KidCare, our state's health insurance program for children from low-income families. SB 294, sponsored by Senator Rene Garcia, District 38, Miami, establishes immediate eligibility in the KidCare program for low-income, lawfully-residing immigrant children.

During a committee hearing prior to the start of session, Michael McQuone, FCCB associate director for health, provided testimony in support of the SB 294 (Garcia) at its first committee of reference, Health Policy. The bill passed the committee unanimously (8-0) and is headed next to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has estimated that 19,500 lawfully-residing immigrant children would be eligible for KidCare under this proposed legislation, increasing total KidCare enrollment by only one percent. Children who are insured are more likely to receive preventive health care and less likely to use hospital emergency rooms, thereby reducing costs of uncompensated care across the entire health system.

An identical bill, HB 829 (LaRosa), was recently filed in the House.


  Proposal to Implement Water and Land Conservation Amendment Could Put Affordable Housing Funds at Risk  
  Through documentary stamps on real estate transactions, the Sadowski Act provides down payment assistance for first time homeownership as well as funding to renovate and retrofit existing communities or build new communities to accommodate people with disabilities, the elderly, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.

In November 2014, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution which requires one third of documentary stamp revenue to be spent on a variety of environmental programs and initiatives. In response to an action alert issued last week, FLCAN members provided public comment to the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation urging that money not be taken out of the housing trust fund to meet this new constitutional mandate. The FCCB holds that it is possible and necessary to fully fund both affordable housing and water and land conservation trust funds.

On February 18, the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation took up SB 586 (Dean), a proposal to implement this new constitutional mandate, potentially jeopardizing funds available for affordable housing. FCCB staff indicated support for an amendment offered by Senator Chris Smith, District 31, Fort Lauderdale, that would have protected affordable housing monies. Prior to a vote, the amendment was withdrawn by Sen. Smith who reported that leadership assured him that cuts to affordable housing will be made up from other sources this year. The bill passed (5-2) and will now move on to the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.


  What FLCAN Members Can Expect to Receive During the Upcoming Legislative Session  
  The annual session of the Florida legislature is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 3 and conclude Friday, May 1. As a member of the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network (FLCAN), you will receive important information and updates throughout the 60-day session directly from the public policy office of the bishops of Florida.

Legislative Report
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has released its Pre-Session Legislative Report identifying proposed legislation that will be closely monitored by the FCCB during the Florida legislative session. Bills are listed under the advocacy areas of Life and Death, Social Concerns, Health, Education, and Religious Freedom.

During the session, the legislative report is updated daily with action taken by the legislature on previously identified bills and any additional bills of concern.

Weekly E-Updates - Beginning Friday, March 6
Each Friday afternoon, FLCAN members will receive a summary of significant legislative action and other activity at the capitol involving issues of interest to the bishops of Florida.

Calls for Action
As priority bills move through the legislative process, alerts will request FLCAN members to take action by contacting their state lawmakers with important messages on specific bills. By sending the right message at the right time, you can contribute to the outcome of significant legislation.


  Excitement Builds in Anticipation of 2015 Catholic Days at the Capitol  
The annual Catholic Days at the Capitol event is scheduled for March 3-4, 2015.  Designed to give Catholic Floridians an opportunity to effect positive change in Florida's laws, the event consists of a legislative briefing by staff of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, meetings with lawmakers, and a luncheon with Florida bishops.  On the evening of March 4, the bishops concelebrate the Red Mass of the Holy Spirit, during which all participants ask for divine inspiration and guidance for members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. 

Hundreds of faithful are scheduled to participate.  If you are unable to attend in person, you will still have the opportunity to add your voice.  An action alert will be coming soon to your email inbox, and with the click of your mouse you can amplify the message of fellow Catholics as they visit lawmakers at the capitol.


  Diocese of Orlando Hosts National Catholic Educational Association Convention and Expo, April 7-9, 2015  
This year provides a convenient opportunity for Florida Catholic educators to attend the NCEA Convention and Expo, as this is the first time it will be held in Florida.  In partnership with the National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors Convocation and the Catholic Library Association, this event is the largest of its kind.  NCEA represents 150,000 Catholic educators serving six million students of all types and levels.

Thousands of attendees are expected to converge on the Orange County Convention Center.  Attendees can select from 300 professional development sessions, departmental meetings, liturgies, and special events.  Category options include Catholic identity and faith formation, Catholic teaching, classroom management, curriculum, co-curricular activities, educational leadership, parish catechetical leadership, technology and more. To date more than 200 experts have been secured as speakers.

Participants represent all aspects of Catholic and faith-based education from preschool, elementary, secondary, adult education, colleges and universities, to local parish pastors, priests, directors of parish religious education programs, parish volunteers and more. 

All who are involved with teaching are encouraged to register. Click here for complete details and registration information.


  James Herzog, Associate for Education and Dr. Michael McCarron, Past Executive Director, to be Honored at NCEA Convention  
  During the National Catholic Educational Association Convention and Expo, held April 7-9 in Orlando, the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award will be given to James Herzog, FCCB, associate director for education. This award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education. The award will be given during the President's Reception and Dinner on Monday, April 6.
Additionally, the William H Sadlier Company will be awarding D. Michael McCarron, FCCB, past executive director, the F. Sadlier Dinger Award for his outstanding lifetime efforts in Catholic education. The award will be given at the Sadlier Breakfast on Tuesday, April 7.

Congratulations James and Mike!


February 25, 2015

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Words of Wisdom

"During Lent, let us find concrete ways to overcome our indifference."

-- Pope Francis
February 17, 2015

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