FLCAN E-Update
Inside this issue
  Regular Session of the Florida Legislature Begins; Governor Delivers State of the State  

On Tuesday morning, March 5, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano and Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva called their respective chambers to order for the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. At the invitation of the Senate president, Father John Cayer of the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee offered the prayer to open the Senate session.
L to R: President Galvano, Speaker Oliva, Governor DeSantis

To a joint session of the House and Senate, Governor Ron DeSantis delivered his first State of the State Address. In his speech, the governor touted his administration's accomplishments since taking office and expressed optimism that the Legislature would advance reforms in a variety of areas. DeSantis outlined his vision on several issues including environment, economy/jobs, education, health care, and foreign affairs.

On the environment, the governor issued a call to act now to preserve our state's natural resources for generations to come. Among other recent actions taken, the governor has proposed $2.5 billion over the next four years for water resources projects and Everglades restoration.

During his remarks on education, the governor introduced two families seated in the gallery whose participation in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship for students with disabilities are in jeopardy due to waiting lists. The governor proposed eliminating the waitlists for both programs.

DeSantis also addressed recent legislative efforts in other states to legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy  and remove protections for children born alive after failed abortions. "I wholeheartedly reject the callous disregard for human life displayed by the Governors of Virginia and New York," stated the governor. "We won't allow that to happen in Florida."


  New Educational Resource on Florida's Privacy Clause  

A video is now available as a companion resource to our Culture of Life brochure addressing our state constitution's privacy clause. Due to an interpretation of this right to privacy, the Florida Supreme Court found in 1989 that a law requiring parental consent prior to a minor's abortion was unconstitutional, even though similar laws have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
We thank Senator Stargel and Representative Grall who have filed bills this session on this topic. Provisions in SB 1774 and HB 1335 address concerns raised by the court with the parental consent law passed in 1988. We look forward to the Florida Supreme Court upholding this version of a good law that ensures a parent provides consent before a minor terminates her pregnancy.


  Senate Advances New School Choice Opportunity  

Dasha Nixon (left) and Theresa Day (right) with three of her children.

An omnibus bill, SB 7070, that includes a school-choice expansion measure was passed (5-3) by the Senate Education Committee. The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program would create a new taxpayer-funded scholarship program for low-income students to attend private schools that meet their educational needs. As outlined in the governor's State of the State Address, the proposal would help to alleviate a nearly 13,000-student waiting list for the longstanding Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program. 

Among those testifying in favor of the bill were Dasha Nixon and Theresa Day, two Catholic school parents whose families benefit from the FTC program. "I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all education system," said Theresa Day. "Every child is unique and can benefit from an education focused on what each individual needs."

The FCCB also voiced support for the bill during the committee hearing.


  Proposal Simplifies Care for Terminal Patients  

A bill that exempts those caring for the terminally ill from checking the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was passed (9-0) by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The PDMP was established in 2009 as a registry to assist law enforcement in reducing abuse of prescription drugs. Its use became mandatory last year, and an unintended consequence was a significant burden placed on those requiring end-of-life care. Experience has shown the terminally ill do not engage in drug seeking among multiple physicians. SB 592 would simplify the process of care for these terminal patients. 

Marco Paredes, FCCB associate director for health, testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing. The FCCB strongly opposes both opioid abuse and assisted suicide. The best defense against the encroachment of assisted suicide is quality end-of-life care, including effective pain management.


  Senate Committee Passes Bill Restricting Retroactive Eligibility for Medicaid  
  An FCCB opposed bill that makes permanent a change in the retroactive eligibility of Medicaid was passed (6-4) by the Senate Health Policy Committee. SB 192 would cement a policy, which became active February 1, that restricts the period patients are eligible for Medicaid coverage to the calendar month before their application. The prior policy, which the Legislature changed last year as a cost cutting measure, allowed Medicaid coverage up to three months before the date individuals applied for coverage. The change disproportionately impacts the poor, people with disabilities and seniors, particularly those in nursing homes who rely on Medicaid to help cover the cost of their long-term care. It is estimated that this change would affect about 11,500 Floridians.  


  Catholic Days at the Capitol: Make the Trip, Make a Difference, March 26-27  

Because we are Catholic, we commit to live our faith in all areas of our lives, to pursue justice for our neighbors, and to protect and uphold the dignity of all human life. Each year during the legislative session, Catholics from across the state gather in Florida's capital city for an opportunity to fulfill these commitments.

Catholic Days activities include:
  • A legislative briefing on policy issues affecting human life and dignity
  • Pre-scheduled meetings with lawmakers
  • A luncheon for Catholic Days participants, Florida's bishops and legislators
  • Group photos of each diocesan delegation with their bishop
  • Tours of the current and historic capitol buildings
  • The opportunity to view the legislative process in action 
  • Annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit concelebrated by the bishops of Florida to pray for those working in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government
Join the bishops of Florida in Tallahassee for Catholic Days at the Capitol, March 26-27, 2019, and put your faith into action!

Register Today! Pre-Registration is required. Deadlines and registration forms are available on the FCCB website. Note: While the deadline to register has passed for some dioceses, others are still accepting registrations.


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


March 8, 2019

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E-Update: Week 1

The 2019 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature began March 5 and is schedule to conclude May 3.

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

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