Inside this issue
  Women Afforded Time to Reflect before Submitting to Abortion  
  Female lawmakers in both the Senate and House have sponsored legislation supporting the opportunity for a woman to reflect for at least 24 hours before proceeding with the termination of a pregnancy. These life-affirming bills have been strongly supported by FCCB staff, Catholic Days at the Capitol participants, advocacy network subscribers and social media followers throughout this year's session.

Originally proposed with no exceptions, both bills were amended to provide a limited exemption to the reflection period for women who present copies of restraining orders, police reports, medical records or other court documents showing they are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking. FCCB prefers no exemptions to the reflection period as, following trauma, the ability to fully consider an irreversible decision is even more critical. However, amending the bills ensured passage and makes certain in most cases women seeking an abortion will have at least 24 hours to reflect.

Pictured above: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (left) with Ingrid Delgado, FCCB associate for social concerns/respect life; Pictured below: Sen. Anitere Flores on the Senate floor.

After a lengthy question and answer period and debate on the House floor, HB 633 (Sullivan) passed (77-41). The bill was taken up by the Senate in place of SB 724 (Flores), and eight amendments seeking to weaken the bill further were defeated. The measure received final passage in the Senate on Friday (26-13).

The next step in the process is the governor's office, where the bill will go before Governor Rick Scott to be signed.
We thank all those who sent messages to their lawmakers urging passage of this legislation. If you have not yet had the opportunity to thank the two bill sponsors for their courage in bringing forward these pro-life bills, click here to send Representative Jennifer Sullivan and Senator Anitere Flores a note of gratitude and encouragement.


  Conscience Protections Receive Senate Committee Hearing; Time Expired Before Vote  
  HB 7111 (Health & Human Services Committee, Brodeur), which provides conscience protections for private adoption and foster care agencies, passed the House (75-38) last week. The bill was sent to the Senate and referred to the Rules Committee.
During an April 20 meeting of the committee, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, spoke in support of the measure and answered questions from committee members. It is the concern of the FCCB that without the clear conscience protection this bill affords, significant litigation will be forthcoming.
With nearly two hours of public testimony from individuals on both sides of the issue, the scheduled meeting time expired, and the bill was temporarily postponed before a vote on the measure. The FCCB continues to urge the advancement of HB 7111 and Senate support for conscience protections that ensure people of faith maintain the freedom to serve the children and families of our state in accord with both the convictions of faith and the law.

Pictured above: Michael B. Sheedy, FCCB executive director
URGENT ACTION ALERT: Act NOW to Ensure Conscience Protections for People of Faith. Click here to send a message urging Senate President Andy Gardiner to support and advance HB 7111.


  Juvenile Justice Measure Serves Society and Youth  
  FCCB supports SB 378 (Garcia) / HB (Clarke-Reed) as a reasonable means to protect society from juvenile crime while treating youth according to their cognitive abilities and making the most of their capacity to reform and transform their lives and future behavior.

The measure provides law enforcement officers the discretion to issue a warning, inform the parent or guardian of the child's infraction, or issue a civil citation to a juvenile who admits having committed a misdemeanor. The ability to issue a civil citation is capped at three.

SB 378 passed the Senate (37-1) on Wednesday and was sent to the House where it was substituted for companion bill, HB 99. The proposal received final passage in the House (115-2) on Friday.

The bill will go next to Governor Scott.

Pictured above left: Sen. Rene Garcia; Right: Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed


  Proposals Concerned with End-of-Life Care Advance in both Chambers  
  FCCB removed its opposition to SB 1052 (Brandes) following passage of an amendment at an April 20 meeting of the Fiscal Policy Committee to delete reference to Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). FCCB urged further improvements before providing for the use of POLST.

Cited as the "Florida Right to Try Act", the underlying bill allows terminally ill patients to explore medications and treatments currently under clinical trial but not yet approved by the FDA. Having passed all committees of reference, SB 1052 has been placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar for Monday, April 27.

Companion HB 269 (Pilon), which remained free of the POLST language as it advanced through the legislative process, was passed unanimously by the House on April 16, and waits for action by the Senate.

SB 1224 (Joyner) / HB 889 (Wood) address situations in which a patient has designated a surrogate to make health care decisions and receive health information.

Both bills contain an FCCB-supported amendment specifying that while a patient has decision-making capacity, the patient's wishes are controlling. Each physician and health care provider must clearly communicate to a patient with decision-making capacity prior to implementation of or changes to a treatment plan.

HB 889 was passed unanimously by the House on April 22 and substituted for SB 1224 in the Senate. The measure received final passage on a unanimous vote by the Senate on April 24 and will be sent to Governor Scott.


  Catholic High School Students Discover the Capital City  
  Tallahassee was the scene of a vibrant learning experience this week, as students from the Law and Global Business Academy of Saint Brendan High School journeyed from Miami to discover what life is like in the state capital.

These outstanding representatives of Catholic education ventured into governmental buildings and events. They could not have chosen a more exciting time to come, as we are only a couple of weeks from the end of the regular legislative session. The St. Brendan Sabres were welcomed to the Supreme Court by Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and the Capitol by Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Other visits included the Historic Capitol and the legislative gallery, where they could observe Florida's lawmaking process.

Pictured above: St. Brendan students with James Herzog, FCCB associate director for education (center)


  Same-Sex Marriage on U.S. Supreme Court's Docket; March for Marriage This Saturday  
  On Tuesday, April 28, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of states to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and whether they must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Supreme Court's decision, expected before the end of its term in late June, will affect the good of marriage in our nation and the well-being of children for years to come. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the court in support of state laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman. 

In anticipation of next week's oral arguments, more than 30 religious leaders representing diverse faith communities throughout the United States have reaffirmed their shared commitment to marriage and religious freedom. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was among the signers of an April 23 open letter entitled "The Defense of Marriage and the Right of Religious Freedom: Reaffirming a Shared Witness" issued to all in positions of public service. 

This Saturday, April 25, in Washington, DC, the third March for Marriage is being sponsored by several organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). For those who cannot travel to DC to march, please consider joining the virtual march at to show your support. Also, check with your parish or diocese for local events.


  New Lawmakers Take Their Places in Respective Chambers  
  Two special elections were held this month to fill one vacancy in the Senate and three in the House.
On Tuesday, April 7, the following lawmakers were elected and sworn in the next day.
  • Senator Travis Hutson, District 6 (R-St. Augustine)
    • Seat vacated by John Thrasher to become Florida State University president
  • Rep. Paul Renner, District 24 (R-Palm Coast)
    • Seat vacated by Travis Hutson to run for Senate District 6
  • Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, District 17 (R-Ponte Vedra Beach)
    • Seat vacated by Ronald "Doc" Renuart to run for Senate District 6 
On Tuesday, April 22, Rep. James Grant, District 64 (R-Tampa) was elected to his previous seat left open after the November 2014 elections due to a legal dispute concerning residency requirements for write-in candidates. Rep. Grant was sworn in Wednesday.


April 24, 2015

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Week 8 of 9

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 2015 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began Tuesday, March 3 and is scheduled to conclude Friday, May 1.

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