Inside this issue
  Thousands "Rally in Tally" for School Choice  
  Tallahassee greeted busloads of students, parents, and school faculty as they arrived January 19 for what has been dubbed one of the largest school choice rallies ever held in the United States. The "Rally in Tally," spearheaded by Florida Voices for Choices, showcased the value of the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship program, which provides scholarships for children in low-income families.

The Rally in Tally began with the triumphant cadence of thousands of sneaker-clad feet marching from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center a few blocks to a designated area near the state capitol building. Of the 10,000-plus attendees, approximately 2,000 Catholic school students, representing dioceses across Florida, traveled from near and far. Carrying poster board signs touting messages such as Put Kids First, Save Our Scholarships and #dropthesuit, the exuberance of the young participants was a living proclamation of the power of faith's place in the public square and a moving testament to the importance of parental empowerment in education. Read more.


  Bill Tightening Abortion Facility Regulations Passes First Committee  
  HB 233 (Trujillo), which requires facilities performing post first trimester abortions to meet ambulatory surgical center licensing regulations, passed (9-4) in its first of three committees on Tuesday. The bill travels next to the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. A senate companion bill has not yet been filed. FCCB supports the bill.  


  Bad Immigration Bill Continues to Move in House  
  HB 675 (Metz), which requires that local law enforcement agencies enforce federal immigration policy, passed (11-4) its final House committee, Judiciary, on Thursday. FCCB Executive Director Michael Sheedy outlined concerns in a letter to the bill sponsor noting:
  • Immigration is a federal issue and states are precluded from regulating conduct in a field that Congress has determined must be regulated by its exclusive governance.
  • The bill is unnecessary in that federal policy already prohibits state and local government entities from restricting communications between Department of Homeland Security officials and state and local government officials.
  • Immigrants can already be prosecuted, since nothing in current law prevents any individual from being prosecuted and convicted for crimes.
The FCCB continues to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. The senate companion, SB 872 (Bean), has not yet been heard in committee.


  Proposal Expanding Coverage for ER Visits Advances  
  HB 221 (Trujillo) requires coverage for emergency services regardless of whether the service is furnished by a participating or nonparticipating provider. The bill reduces out-of-pocket expenses associated with an issue known as 'balance billing' that can occur when patients who need emergency care are treated by providers who are not part of their insurers' networks. The bill was approved unanimously by the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee (12-0). A companion measure in the Senate, SB 1442 (Garcia), was filed last week. FCCB is monitoring these bills.  


  Catholic Days at the Capitol Registration Deadlines Near  

Join us for Catholic Days at the Capitol and put your faith into action. You can effect positive change in Florida's laws and strengthen the presence of Catholic values in the public square by joining with Floridians from across the state to advocate for laws that protect and defend human life and dignity.

Pre-Registration is required. Register today, deadlines are near!

Learn more and find diocesan registration forms and coordinator contact information here. 

2016 Catholic Days at the Capitol concludes with the 41st Annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit, scheduled for February 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The Mass will be celebrated by the bishops of Florida to pray for those working in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. Msgr. David L. Toups, S.T.D., Rector/President, St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach will serve as this year's homilist.


  Recent News from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  

January 21, 2016: Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, urged Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice to take renewed action to build on steps toward peace in the Middle East.

January 20, 2016: On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Orthodox and Catholic Christians will join in prayer and public gathering to express their long-standing belief that all life is sacred.

January 15, 2016: The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 21-Friday morning, January 22, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Pope Francis celebrated Mass during his recent visit to Washington.

January 14, 2016: In his Roe v. Wade anniversary statement, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, calls on pro-life movement to spread 'a vision of life and love,' encourages participation in '9 Days for Life' campaign.


  Follow Us on Social Media  
  Are you following the Catholic bishops on social media? Look for updates and opportunities throughout the session to take action on proposed legislation. Also, as we celebrate this Year of Mercy, look for #MercyMonday posts.

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January 22, 2016

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Florida Bishops' Statement on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
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E-Update: Week 2

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 FCCB priority bills, see our legislative bill report.

The 2016 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began Tuesday, January 12 and is scheduled to conclude Friday, March 11.

E-Update:Week 1
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