Inside this issue
  Bishops Applaud New Law Establishing Reflection Period Prior to Abortion; Legal Challenge Filed  
  On Wednesday, June 10, HB 633 was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. This new law ensures that a woman who seeks an abortion in Florida receives 24 hours to reflect on information provided by a physician before proceeding with the termination of her pregnancy. This good legislation gives women one day to reflect upon the risks of abortion, one day to view the image of her unborn child's ultrasound, and one day to consult with friends, family and faith.

In a news release issued this week, the bishops commend Governor Scott for signing the bill and praise legislative leaders for advancing this life-affirming legislation, especially Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami) and Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) for their courageous sponsorship of this pro-life measure. 

You can send thank you messages to Governor Scott and the bill sponsors by clicking here.

Legal Challenge Immediately Filed
Less than 24 hours after HB 633 was signed, a legal challenge to the new state law was filed Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights in a Leon County circuit court. The lawsuit claims that the 24-hour reflection period violates the right to privacy as provided in the Florida Constitution. The plaintiffs in the case are Bread and Roses Women's Health Center and Medical Students for Choice.


  Bill Striking Adoption Ban Becomes Law Without Conscience Protections  
  HB 7013 was signed into law by Governor Scott on Thursday, June 11. In addition to providing adoption incentives for state employees, HB 7013 strikes from Florida law a long-standing prohibition on adoption by homosexual persons without providing conscience protections for religious agencies that prefer to place children with a mother and a father.
A 2010 ruling by Florida's Third District Court of Appeal opened the door to adoption by same-sex couples to become the practice throughout our state. However, considering the redefinition of marriage by the courts, striking the ban in statute without also passing conscience protections will leave religious agencies vulnerable to legal challenges.
Recognizing that children are best served when raised by a mother and a father is not meant to denigrate the dignity of those who are making necessary and often heroic sacrifices to raise children in other circumstances. However, society must reaffirm the right of children to the greatest extent possible to grow up in a family with a mother and a father with unique abilities capable of creating the most beneficial environment for the child's development and emotional maturity.
Conscience protections ensure that people of faith maintain the freedom to serve the children and families of our state in accord with both their religious convictions and the law, while adding no new barriers to the adoption process. Without such a policy, Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, Illinois and California have had no choice but to severely restrict or discontinue their child-placement services.

In his letter to the secretary of state, Governor Scott wrote:

"It is my hope and expectation that the Legislature will take future action to make clear that we will support private, faith-based operators in the child welfare system and ensure that their religious convictions continue to be protected. Florida's laws must protect the free exercise of religious liberty and faith while protecting Floridians from illegal discrimination. These are not, and never should be, mutually exclusive pursuits."

Click here to let Governor Scott know you are disappointed that he has signed HB 7013 into law without protections for religious agencies.


  Additional Bills Acted on by Governor Scott  
  In addition to HB 633 (24-Hour Reflection Prior to Abortion) and HB 7013 (Adoption), the following bills engaged by the FCCB during the 2015 regular legislative session have been signed into law by Governor Scott:
  • SB 378 - Juvenile Civil Citations - Supported by FCCB
  • HB 269 - Experimental Treatments for Terminal Conditions - Monitored by FCCB
  • HB 5 - Guardianship Proceedings - Monitored by FCCB
  • HB 153 - Literacy Jump Start Pilot Project - Monitored by FCCB
  • HB 465 / HB 467 / HB 469 - Human Trafficking - Supported by FCCB
  • HB 889 - Health Care Representatives - Monitored by FCCB
For a full report of bills followed by the FCCB during the 2015 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature, see our legislative bill report.


  Special Legislative Session Continues  
  Due to an impasse stemming from opposing positions on health care funding between the House and Senate, the Florida legislature failed to pass a state budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year during this spring's regular session. The constitutional requirement for the legislature to pass an annual budget necessitated a special legislative session, scheduled June 1 - June 20.

Negotiations Underway to Address Differences in House and Senate Budgets
Starting last weekend and continuing through Tuesday, budget conference committees met to negotiate the differences between House and Senate spending plans. Unresolved issues where agreement could not be reached were "bumped" to the House and Senate appropriations chairmen, Representative Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes) and Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon), for the next phase in negotiations. 

Senate and House leadership have stated that they expect negotiations to be completed in time for lawmakers to vote on the budget by June 19, a day before the scheduled end of the special session. Final budgets must be provided to all legislators 72-hours before a vote can take place.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Scholarships
It appears there will be no increase to VPK scholarships with the House accepting the Senate position to level-fund VPK allocations. FCCB and Catholic Days participants advocated for a $240 increase in per-pupil scholarships for the school-year program, which would have raised the scholarship value from $2,437 to $2,677 per-child and restored it to 2007-2008 levels.
Affordable Housing
Budget conferees appear to have reached an agreement to fund affordable housing trust funds at $175 million, while sweeping $81 million of the full $256 appropriation to general revenue.

Joining members of the Sadowski Housing Coalition, FCCB advocated for full funding of affordable housing trust funds. Funds 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.


June 12, 2015

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Words of Wisdom

"We need to build up society in the light of the Beatitudes, walking towards the Kingdom with the least among us."

-- Pope Francis
Twitter, June 4, 2015


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