Inside this issue
  Pro-Life Abortion Bill Continues to Move in House  
  On Tuesday, HB 1411 (Burton) passed its second committee of reference, House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee (9-4). The bill addresses several areas of concern with regard to abortions that occur in Florida. Provisions include:
  • Requiring that abortion clinics have transfer agreements and physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges with hospitals within 30 minutes by emergency vehicle.
  • Prohibiting public funding for an organization that owns, operates, or is affiliated with a licensed abortion clinic, with some exceptions. 
  • Strengthening the prohibition on the sale or transfer, and clarifying criteria for proper disposal, of fetal remains obtained through abortion.
Ingrid Delgado, FCCB associate for social concerns/respect life, testified in support of the bill during the committee meeting.

Companion bill SB 1722 (Stargel) is expected to be heard by its second committee, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, next week.


  House Committee Takes Up Capital Sentencing  
  On Tuesday, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee addressed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hurst v. Florida that found Florida's system for sentencing a person to death unconstitutional. In addition to remedying the court's concern that a judge, not a jury, decide whether the circumstances of a crime warrant a sentence of death, the subcommittee's proposal, filed as HB 7101, requires that:
  • a jury must agree unanimously on the existence of an aggravating circumstance prior to deliberating on a sentencing recommendation;
  • 9 of the 12 jury members recommend death in order for a death sentence to be imposed.
FCCB urges the bill be amended to require a unanimous jury decision in order to recommend the death penalty. A unanimous jury requirement promotes more thoughtful deliberation among jurors and ensures a more reliable sentencing process. Unanimity is already required in every other circumstance when a jury is summoned in Florida.

The Senate version of the measure, SB 7068, was filed this week by the Criminal Justice Committee and requires unanimity by the jury throughout the sentencing process. This bill will be taken up by the committee on Monday, February 8.

In a related matter, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an indefinite stay of execution for Cary Michael Lambrix, who was scheduled to be executed February 11. The order came after the court heard oral arguments that focused on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hurst decision.


  Immigration Bill Opposed by FCCB Passes Florida House  
  On Wednesday, the full House passed (80-38) HB 675 (Metz), which requires that local law enforcement agencies enforce federal immigration policy. FCCB opposed the bill during its committee hearings noting that 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 FCCB continues to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 872 (Bean), has not received any committee hearings.  


  Health Coverage for Immigrant Children Approved by Final House Committee  
  On Thursday, the House Health and Human Services Committee passed (15-0) HB 89 (Diaz, J.). The bill eliminates the five-year waiting period for low-income, lawfully-residing immigrant children to participate in the KidCare insurance program, while maintaining an exclusion of eligibility for undocumented immigrants of any age. During the committee meeting, Mike McQuone, FCCB associate for health, expressed support for this perennial priority of the FCCB. By allowing for health insurance coverage and preventive care during the first critical years of a child's development, the measure reduces emergency room visits and the cost of uncompensated care across the whole health system. Senate companion bill SB 248 (Garcia) has yet to be heard by its second committee of reference, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.  


  Transition-to-Work for Students with Disabilities Clears Final House Committee  
  HB 837 (Bileca) develops a 'transition-to-work' program for recipients of the McKay Scholarship. The program, jointly offered by private schools and businesses, would include academic instruction, work skills training and a paid or volunteer work experience for young adults aged 17-22 with disabilities. Prior to unanimous (17-0) approval by the House Education Committee on Thursday, James Herzog, FCCB associate director for education, expressed support for the bill at this final committee of reference. HB 837 will now head to the full House chamber. The Senate companion bill, SB 1088 (Stargel), has two more committee stops.  


  World Day of the Sick: Opportunity to Plan for Advance Care  
  The 24th World Day of the Sick, February 11, is an opportunity to consider Catholic advance care resources. 
  • A Catholic Introduction to End-of-Life Planning, a new brochure, provides guidance when discussing the subject with health care providers and loved ones.
  • The Catholic Declaration on Life and Death (CDLD), approved by the bishops of Florida, combines a designation of health care surrogate and living will into one document.
  • Understanding the Catholic Declaration on Life and Death (UCDLD) is a guide to assist you as you complete the CDLD.
All documents are available on the FCCB website for downloading and printing in both English and Spanish.


  Recent News from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)  

February 4, 2016: National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities "to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage," said the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

February 2, 2016: Two bishops who head U.S. dioceses bordering Mexico, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will officially represent the USCCB during the February 12-17 visit of Pope Francis to Mexico. 

February 2, 2016: The USCCB Office of General Counsel filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, February 1, on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference and several Christian partners in support of a Texas law mandating health and safety standards protecting women who undergo abortions.


  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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February 5, 2016

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E-Update: Week 4

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
E-Update: Week 2
E-Update: Week 3

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