Inside this issue
  Legislature Passes Budget; Session Concludes  
  After a three-day extension, the Regular Session of the Florida Legislature came to a close (sine die) at 8:52 p.m. on Monday, May 8. The motion to adjourn sine die, Latin for 'without day,' is the last action of a session of the Florida legislature.

The House and Senate chambers approved an $82.4 billion state budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. SB 2500, the General Appropriations Act, passed the Senate (34-4) and the House (98-14). The budget will go to Governor Rick Scott who has line item veto authority. There is speculation that because of differences with the legislature over funding of priorities the governor may veto the entire budget, which would prompt a special session.

The final status of FCCB budget priorities include:

Pregnancy Support Services - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue: Despite a failure to pass a bill adding the Florida Pregnancy Care Network to statute, funding for this network of pregnancy help centers remains at its current level. $4 million is allocated in the budget to provide services such as counseling, referrals, material support, training, and pregnancy and childbirth education to pregnant mothers as they prepare to parent or place their babies for adoption. FCCB has been supportive of the program since its inception in 2005.

Criminal Justice Reform Task Force - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue: Despite the inability to pass legislation to establish a task force, $300,000 is in the budget to fund criminal justice reform research. Rather than continuing to address criminal justice measures each year in a piecemeal fashion, FCCB supports a comprehensive review of Florida's criminal justice systems. 

Affordable Housing Trust Fund: The legislature has appropriated $137 million of affordable housing trust fund dollars. $154.4 million of available housing funds was swept to general revenue. However, additional affordable housing dollars are included in other areas of the budget, bringing total available funding to $250 million. The FCCB has long supported full funding of housing trust funds to assist vulnerable populations with housing needs. 

Nursing Home Prospective Payment System (PPS): The legislature approved, but delayed implementation by one year, an FCCB opposed proposal that redistributes funds among nursing homes resulting in a disproportionate negative impact on higher quality, more efficient homes. A task force will be created to develop recommendations for the 2018 legislature regarding the design of the PPS model. The delay and the task force leave opportunity to propose remedies before implementation.

Hospital Reimbursement: Lawmakers cut $250 million in recurring general revenue for hospital Medicaid payments, with legislators agreeing to reduce those cuts by $50 million for the upcoming year only. Because state dollars are matched by federal Medicaid dollars, the cuts amount to a $520 million reduction in hospital payments. Medicaid funding contributes significantly to the system delivering care to all Floridians.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK): The VPK scholarship amount for the school-year program remains funded at the current level of $2,437 per child.

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


  Bills Passed by the Legislature  
  Bills that were 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. Final votes are linked to House and Senate records. You can click on each vote to see how your legislators voted.

Grieving Families Act
  • SB 672 (Bean) / HB 101 (Cortes, B.) allows parents whose pregnancies result in miscarriage after the 9th week but before completion of the 20th week of gestation to request nonviable birth certificates from the Department of Health. 
Senate Vote: 36-0
House Vote: 115-1
Governor: Bill not received yet

Death Penalty Sentencing
  • SB 280 (Bracy) / HB 527 (Sprowls) requires that a jury recommendation for a death sentence be unanimous. FCCB supports ending the use of the death penalty since the alternative sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole can keep society safe. However, for many years we have also supported unanimous jury legislation as an incremental improvement in the law as long as the State of Florida continues to impose death sentences.
Senate Vote: 37-0
House Vote: 112-3
Governor: Signed bill on March 13

End-of-Life Care
  • SB 474 (Grimsley) / HB 539 (Harrell) deletes the requirement of a spouse or legal representative to obtain a court order to access a medical record after a patient's death. Additionally, the measure allows for safer disposal of controlled substances after a patient's death and aligns state and federal quality measures for data gathering, analysis and public reporting. 
Senate Vote: 38-0
House Vote: 119-0
Governor: Bill not received yet

Parental Empowerment in Education
SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
  • SB 902 (Simmons) / SB 1314 (Grimsley) / HB 15 (Sullivan) establishes a higher per-child scholarship amount for middle and high school students in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and expands eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship Program for children with special needs to include students with visual or hearing-impairment and other children who qualify for individualized education programs.
Senate Vote: 27-11
House Vote: 101-11
Governor: Bill not received yet


  Bills that Died During the Session  
SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
  • SB 1130 (Bean) / HB 969 (Toledo) places the Florida Pregnancy Care Network in statute. HB 969 passed the House 79-38 but never received a vote by the full Senate. Note: FPCN continues to be funded at its current level ($4 million) in the 2017-2018 budget.

  • SB 786 (Bean) / HB 697 (Metz), so called "sanctuary" bill, requires local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration policy without accompanying funding. On March 13, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, outlined concerns in a letter to Rep. Metz. HB 697 passed the House 76-41 but had no hearings in the Senate.
  • HB 427 (Santiago) requires state to withdraw from coordination of the federally-funded refugee resettlement program. January 25 correspondence from Sheedy urged continued state coordination of the program.
  • SB 120 (Hutson) / HB 83 (Eagle) provides that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes will be sentenced more harshly solely because of their immigration status. On January 24 and March 14, Sheedy expressed concerns with SB 120 and HB 83 in letters to the bill sponsors.

SUPPORTED BY FCCB - Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
  • 458 (Brandes) / HB 387 (Peters) creates the Florida Criminal Justice Reform Task Force for the purpose of conducting a comprehensive review of the state's criminal justice, court and corrections systems. Note: $300,000 is allocated in the 2017-2018 budget for criminal justice reform research.

  • SB 192 (Powell) modifies the process of direct file of a minor to adult court; establishes minimum age at which a child can be charged as an adult.
  • SB 196 (Flores) / HB 301 (White) requires officers to issue to juvenile offenders civil citations for certain first-time nonviolent misdemeanors; allows for data collection regarding the transfer of juveniles to the adult justice system.
  • HB 205 (Ahern) provides for automatic expungement of a juvenile's first-time misdemeanor after the offender completes a diversion program; allows for discretionary use of civil citations for adults. As originally filed, the bill was a companion to SB 196.

  • SB 302 (Brandes) / HB 1017 (Ingram) prohibits suspension of driver license for failure to pay fees or other charges related to traffic citations if the inability to pay demonstrated.


  Status of Other Issues of Interest  
  Gambling: House and Senate negotiators were unable to reach a compromise on gambling legislation or the renewal of the compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Expansion of casino gambling is opposed by FCCB.

Medical Cannabis: The legislature failed to pass legislation to implement Amendment 2 largely due to a disagreement on the number of dispensaries in the state. This will leave implementation of the November 2016 voter-approved amendment to the Florida Department of Health.

Substance Abuse: The legislature passed higher criminal penalties for the trafficking of fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid often mixed with other drugs such as heroin. On May 3, Governor Scott called a state public health emergency to combat the opioid epidemic. The order will allow Florida to immediately draw down $27 million in federal money that can be used for prevention, treatment and recovery services. There were more than 3,900 opioid deaths in Florida in 2015.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): An FCCB opposed bill that would have established a POLST protocol without proper patient safeguards failed to get a hearing during the session.

Payday Lending: FCCB supports capping the annual percentage rate (APR) for payday lenders. Neither good nor bad legislation that would have protected or harmed poor and vulnerable families passed this session.

Water Pollution: Governor Scott has been sent legislation that creates a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that could help to alleviate polluted discharges from the lake that have plagued waterways on the Treasure Coast. The governor has until May 11 to act on this legislation.


  Catholic School Students Visit the Capitol  

Fifth grade students from Little Flower Catholic School in Pensacola were in Tallahasee last week. While in town they were able to tour the Capitol and Historic Capitol buildings and were recognized in the visitors' gallery from the Senate floor by Senator Debbie Mayfield.


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

May 4, 2017After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out the harmful provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration.

May 4, 2017: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a response to President Donald J. Trump's executive order pertaining to religious freedom.


May 8, 2017

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E-Update: Week 9 / Final Session Summary

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 vote records and current status of FCCB priority bills, see our legislative bill report.

The 2017 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began Tuesday, March 7 and concluded Friday, May 5.

E-Update: Week 1
E-Update: Week 2
E-Update: Week 3
E-Update: Week 4
E-Update: Week 5
E-Update: Week 6
E-Update: Week 7
E-Update: Week 8
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