Inside this issue
  Final Session Summary  
  The 2015 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature concluded Friday, May 1. During the Session, 1754 bills were filed, of which 231 passed both House and Senate chambers.

Due to an impasse stemming from opposing positions on the use of Medicaid funding to provide low-income Floridians with access to health care, the legislature did not pass a budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. The budget is the only constitutionally required duty of the legislature, and lawmakers will have to return to the Capitol for a special session to pass a budget and forward it the governor for his signature before June 30.

Without a final budget, several funding issues of concern to the FCCB are still pending:

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Scholarships
Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue

FCCB advocated for a $240 increase in per-pupil scholarships for the school-year program, which would raise the scholarship value to $2,677 per-child and restore it to 2007-2008 levels.

Affordable Housing
Full funding of affordable housing trust funds remains uncertain. Revenues generated from documentary stamps on real estate transactions provide down payment assistance for first time homeownership as well as funding to renovate and retrofit existing communities or build new communities to accommodate vulnerable populations.

Pregnancy Support Services
Funding for the program has been in the budget since 2006 and supports a network of crisis pregnancy centers that provide counseling, medically-accurate information and resources for pregnant women.

The following legislative proposals were actively engaged by the FCCB during the Session. For more information on these proposals and the final status of additional closely followed bills, see our Legislative Bill Report.


  Bills that Passed the Legislature  
  Bills passed by the legislature will be presented to Governor Rick Scott for final action. From the date the governor receives a bill, he has 15 days to either sign, veto, or let the bill become law without his signature. Votes are linked to House and Senate records, click on each vote to see how your legislators voted.

Reflection Period Prior to an Abortion
SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
SB 724 (Flores) / HB 633 (Sullivan) provides a woman the opportunity to reflect for at least 24 hours after receiving information about her baby's gestational age and the risks of abortion before proceeding with the termination of her pregnancy.
House Vote: 77-41
Senate Vote: 26-13

Juvenile Civil Citations
SB 378 (Garcia) / HB 99 (Clarke Reed) 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. Use of a civil citation is not limited to first-time misdemeanors and may be used for up to two subsequent misdemeanors. Officers also maintain the discretion to arrest the juvenile.
House Vote: 115-2
Senate Vote: 37-1
Human Trafficking
  • SB 1106 (Flores) / HB 465 (Spano) provides for increased penalties for traffickers and people who employ or solicit trafficked individuals for prostitution or similar crimes. 
  • SB 1108 (Flores) / HB 467 (Spano) protects the identity of trafficking victims through certain exemptions to public records laws. 
  • SB 1110 (Flores) / HB 469 (Spano) provides an exemption from public records requirements the location of safe houses, safe foster homes, and other residential facilities serving victims of sexual exploitation.
All final votes in the House and Senate were unanimous. 

Experimental Treatments for Terminal Conditions
SB 1052 (Brandes) / HB 269 (Pilon), designated the "Florida Right to Try Act", allows terminally ill patients to explore medications and treatments currently under clinical trial but not yet approved by the FDA. Following passage of an amendment to delete reference to Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), FCCB removed its opposition to SB 1052. FCCB urges further improvements to POLST before it is used more widely.
House Vote: 113-0
Senate Vote: 39-1
Health Care Representatives
SB 1224 (Joyner) / HB 889 (Wood) addresses situations in which a patient has designated a surrogate to make health care decisions and receive health information. The measure was amended to include FCCB-supported language 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.
Final House and Senate votes were unanimous.
Guardianship Proceedings
SB 318 (Diaz de la Portilla) / HB 5 (Passidomo) safeguards the elderly and other vulnerable populations from predatory guardians; increases transparency in guardianship proceedings and the involvement of family members; defines the role of the court appointed guardian in relation to the health-care surrogate.

Final House and Senate votes were unanimous.

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.

Literacy Jump Start Pilot Project
SB 1116 (Abruzzo) / HB 153 (Lee) establishes a five-year pilot project to help children from low-income families to develop the reading and vocabulary skills necessary for later academic success. The project in St. Lucie County would be operated by a local provider approved by the Office of Early Learning within the Florida Department of Education. It would serve 2 and 3 year olds from families who are eligible for federal child care programs and/or reside in subsidized housing. FCCB staff collaborated with the bill sponsors to clarify a provision allowing a faith-based provider to participate in the pilot. 

Final House and Senate votes were unanimous.

Adoption and Foster Care
OPPOSED BY FCCB - after amended in the House
SB 320 (Gaetz, D.) / HB 7013 (Brodeur) provides incentives for employees of state agencies who adopt a child from the child welfare system. As amended, strikes from Florida law a long-standing prohibition on adoption by homosexual persons.
House Vote: 68-50
Senate Vote: 27-11


  Bills that Died During the Session  
  Unanimous Jury Recommendation for Capital Sentencing
SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
SB 664 (Altman) / HB 139 (Rodriguez, J.) required that an advisory sentence of death be made by a unanimous recommendation of the jury.
Conscience Protection for Private Child-Placing Agencies
HB 7111 (Health & Human Services Committee; Brodeur) ensured that people of faith maintained the freedom to serve the children and families of our state in accord with both the convictions of faith and the requirements of law, while adding no new barriers to the adoption or foster-care process by qualified Floridians.
Charging Juveniles as Adults
SB 1082 (Altman) / HB 783 (Edwards) modified two of Florida's current methods by which juveniles are charged as adults: limited charging juveniles as adults through the process of indictment to youth 14 or older, where there is no current minimum; specified the offenses for which 14-17 year olds are transferred to adult court through the process of direct file.
Florida KidCare Program
SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
SB 294 (Garcia) / HB 829 (La Rosa) established immediate eligibility in the KidCare health insurance program for lawfully-residing immigrant children from low-income families.
Dual Enrollment Students
SB 874 (Stargel) / HB 713 (Perry) leveled the playing field with respect to school choice by exempting dual enrollment students from certain fees and requiring that instructional materials for dual enrollment courses be provided free of charge to home education program students and private school students in a manner similar to current law for public school students.
Students with Disabilities
SB 602 (Gaetz, D.) / HB 7095 (Education/Bileca) expanded eligibility for the Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA) Program to include all students on the autism spectrum as well as students with muscular dystrophy.


  Florida Catholic Advocacy Network Activity  
  In the weeks leading up to and during the legislative session, several action alerts were sent by the Florida Catholic Advocacy Network (FLCAN) pertaining to the following subjects:
  • Catholic Days at the Capitol 2015 Issues
  • 24-Hour Reflection Period Prior to Abortion
  • Unanimous Jury for a Death Sentence
  • Conscience Protections for Child Placement Agencies
  • Expanding Coverage for the Uninsured
  • Civil Citations for Juvenile Offenders
  • Affordable Housing Trust Funds
A tremendous response to our calls to action resulted in nearly 9,000 messages to lawmakers. The FCCB is grateful for the efforts of advocacy network subscribers and the Catholic community that helped to advance these proposals.


May 5, 2015

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Final Session Summary

The 2015 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began Tuesday, March 3 and concluded Friday, May 1.

Each Friday during the 60-day session, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) provided a summary of activity on priority bills and other items of interest at the Capitol.

Previous Weekly E-Updates:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9

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