Inside this issue
  2015 Legislative Session Concludes; Special Session Required  
  Due to the legislature's budget impasse, to the surprise of many, the House abruptly adjourned sine die at 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, killing bills and leaving the spending plan for the year that begins July 1 in a state of uncertainty. The motion to adjourn sine die, Latin for "without day", designates the last act of the legislative session.

The Senate continued to take up and pass bills for another day. After rather public finger-pointing and a failed lawsuit by Senate Democrats to force the House to return to the Capitol, the 2015 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature ended at 11:59 p.m., Friday, May 1.

A final session summary on the status of all proposals covered in our weekly legislative e-updates will be forthcoming.

Special Session to be Called
The legislature's only constitutional duty each year is to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. With this task not completed, legislators will have to return for a special session to approve a fiscal year 2015-2016 budget and forward it the governor for his signature before June 30.

The standoff between the House and Senate stems from differences in the two chambers' health-care budgets. The Senate plan includes spending $2.8 billion in Medicaid funding to assist low-income Floridians with the purchase of private health insurance. Also at issue is $2.2 billion in federal/state funding to extend the Low Income Pool (LIP) program, set to expire this year, that covers hospitals for uncompensated care. The House did not include an appropriation for either proposal in its version of the budget and has staunchly rejected any expansion of Medicaid in Florida, as well as a claim put forth by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the two issues are linked.

Governor Rick Scott has weighed in by filing a lawsuit to stop the Obama Administration from linking federal LIP funding to the State's potential expansion of Medicaid.


  Senate Fails to Act on Conscience Protections for People of Faith  
  After passing the House two weeks ago (75-38), HB 7111 (Health & Human Services Committee, Brodeur) never received a vote in the Senate despite a lengthy hearing in the Rules Committee last week. FCCB is concerned that without the clear conscience protections this bill provided for private adoption and foster care agencies, litigation over child placement policies will be forthcoming. The failure of HB 7111 to pass leaves uncertain whether people of faith will maintain the freedom to serve the children and families of our state in accord with both the convictions of faith and the requirements of law.
The FCCB wishes to express its gratitude to all those, who in response to our call to action, urged the advancement of these important religious liberty protections.


  Vulnerable Populations Provided Protections from Predatory Guardians  
  Aimed at safeguarding the elderly and other vulnerable populations from abusive guardians, HB 5 (Passidomo) / SB 318 (Diaz de la Portilla) received final passage with a unanimous vote in the Senate on Tuesday. The bill, which had earlier cleared the House, will be sent to Governor Rick Scott for action.

A ten-fold increase in the number of professional, for-profit guardians and extensive media coverage of alleged abuses has resulted in this legislation to increase judicial and regulatory oversight of guardianship proceedings. Committee hearings throughout the session included public testimony regarding the lack of transparency of judicial proceedings, excessive fees for personal and legal services, isolation of wards from family members, disregard of religious preferences, and conflicts regarding health matters between the court-appointed guardian and the ward's designated health-care surrogate.

Additional proposals addressing guardianship proceedings, SB 1226 (Detert), SB 366 (Stargel), and HB 1225 (Ahern), saw movement this session but did not achieve final passage in both chambers.


May 1, 2015

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Week 9 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 concluded Friday, May 1.

Previous Weekly E-Updates:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8


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