2023 Florida Legislative Session Concludes

The Regular Session of the Florida Legislature came to a close (sine die) at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 5. The motion to adjourn sine die, Latin for 'without day,' is the last action of a session of the Florida legislature.

End of week summaries for the 60-day session are available on the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) website.

Bishop Wack Leads Opening Prayer for Senate Session 

As legislators began their final week at the Capitol, Bishop William A. Wack, CSC of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee was invited to offer the opening prayer before the Senate session on Monday. 

We share Bishop Wack's prayer below: 

"As the season of spring brings forth new growth and new possibilities, so you give to your beloved children the gift of hope and new life. We thank you for the beauty of creation and the wonder of our very being. Pour out your blessings upon us. May we be good stewards of all the gifts you have given us - in our own lives, in our families, our communities, and throughout the state of Florida. Open our eyes and our hearts to the needs of others, that we may be aware of our blessings and help others in their need. Now we ask you, O God, to be with the members of this legislative body. Guide their hearts and their decisions. Let their conversations and deliberations be productive, so that justice may reign on earth. Inspire them and work through them, so that you will is accomplished in all things. For you live and reign, forever and ever. Amen."

Final Status of FCCB Budget Priorities and Concerns 

The Legislature passed a $117 billion state budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year that starts July 1. The budget will go to Governor Ron DeSantis, who has line-item veto authority, for his approval.

Pregnancy Support Services
Total funding for the Florida Pregnancy Care Network (FPCN) for the fiscal year is $29.5 million. $4.5 million was appropriated in this year's budget, and SB 300 appropriated $25 million in recurring funds for program implementation. FPCN pregnancy care centers 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. 

Affordable Housing Trust Fund 
The Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be fully funded, receiving $511 million appropriated in the Live Local Act. The FCCB has long supported full funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which funds housing construction and rehabilitation, down payment assistance and rental development to assist the disabled, elderly, veterans and others in need of housing assistance.

Health Care Access for the Underserved
The budget includes a $500,000 allocation to support the outstanding work of St. John Bosco Clinic to provide free primary care services to underserved and uninsured individuals in the Miami-Dade community. Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, the clinic was formally a collaboration of Mercy Hospital and St. John Bosco parish in Little Havana and is now located at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)  
The Legislature increased the VPK per-student allocation by $138 to $2,941. This 5% increase is not nearly as large as last year (12.75%) but still a solid increase and good to have an increase for two years in a row. VPK funding has seen a net decrease over the course of the program's 18 years. Florida's Catholic schools have successfully served children in the program since its inception in 2005-2006. 

Immigration Enforcement 
$12 million was appropriated in SB 1718 to the Division of Emergency Management within the Executive Office of the Governor for the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program to remove undocumented individuals from the state. FCCB opposed this legislation that unnecessarily and unfairly targets the migrant community in Florida.

Bills Actively Engaged by FCCB

The following highlights bill provisions and provides links to final House and Senate votes. Full bill texts and all legislative actions can be found on the websites of the Florida House and the Florida Senate. Bills passed by the legislature are presented to Governor DeSantis 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. 


Heartbeat Protection Act
HB 7 (Persons-Mulicka) / SB 300 (Grall) 
Prohibits abortion in Florida after six-weeks gestation, with exceptions; includes $25 million in funding to provide pregnancy and parenting support to women and their families; also prohibits state funds from assisting women traveling out of state to obtain an abortion and telehealth from being used to provide abortion services. 
Catholic Days Backgrounder; FCCB press release.
House: Passed 70-40; Senate: Passed 26-13; Signed by the Governor: April 13, 2023

Expansion of Educational Choice 
HB 1 (Tuck) / SB 202 (Simon) 
Expands state scholarship programs so that education savings accounts (ESAs) are available to all students eligible to attend a public school in Florida, including homeschool students; also expands access to larger scholarships for students with disabilities by increasing the enrollment cap. 
Catholic Days Backgrounder; FCCB press release. 
House: Passed 83-27; Senate: Passed 26-12; Signed by the Governor: March 27, 2023

Protections of Medical Conscience
HB 1403 (Rudman) / SB 1580 (Trumbull) 
Allows health care providers and payors the right to opt out of participation in, or payment for, any health care service on the basis of a conflict of conscience; creates whistleblower protections and a cause of action for violations of medical conscience protections; also protects individuals from disciplinary actions by medical boards or associations for speaking or writing publicly about a health care service provided that it is not medical advice or treatment provided to a specific patient.
House: Passed 84-34; Senate: Passed 28-11

Increased Options for Affordable Housing 
HB 627 (Busatta-Cabrera) / SB 102 (Calatayud)
Authorizes the governor to approve state or local projects to facilitate construction of affordable housing, allows local governments to offer property tax exemptions for affordable housing; maintains a high level of funding for Florida’s State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) for repair and rehabilitation of existing housing and first-time homeowner down payment assistance; fully funds the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program used to build new apartment units or rehabilitate existing apartments that house Florida’s low-income populations. 
House: Passed 103-6; Senate: Passed unanimous; Signed by the Governor: March 29, 2023

Countering the Harms of Gender Ideology

~ Gender Clinical Interventions
HB 1421 (Fine) / SB 254 (Yarborough)
Prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures on minors; requires written consent before such procedures are performed on adults; provides that a physician's license be revoked if he or she proceeds with prohibited interventions; and establishes a cause of action for those who violate this law. 
House: Passed 83-28; Senate: 26-13 

~ Child Protection in Public Schools
HB 1069 (McClain) / SB 1320 (Yarborough)  
Prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades PreK-8; prohibits an employee, contractor, or student from being required to refer to a person using personal titles or pronouns that do not correspond with that person’s sex; provides parents with the ability to restrict the type of books or instructional content their child can access. 
House: Passed 77-35; Senate: Passed 27-12 

~ Facility Requirements Based on Sex 
HB 1521 (Plakon) / SB 1674 (Grall) 
Authorizes persons to enter a restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex only under certain circumstances; provides that persons who enter facilities of the opposite sex and refuse to depart when asked to do so commit the criminal offense of trespass. 
House: Passed 80-36; Senate: Passed 26-12

~ Protection of Children from Obscene Performances 
HB 1423 (Fine) / SB 1438 (Yarborough) 
Prohibits children from being admitted to lewd and sexually explicit adult live performances; includes provisions to fine, suspend, or revoke the license of any public lodging or public food service establishment that knowingly admits a child to an obscene adult live performance. 
House: Passed 82-32; Senate: Passed 28-12

Florida Kidcare Program Eligibility 
HB 121 (Bartleman) / SB 246 (Calatayud)  
Revises the income threshold for families to qualify for Florida KidCare to be raised from 200% to 300% of the federal poverty level. 
House: Passed unanimous; Senate: unanimous

Human Trafficking Victims
HB 841 ( Hawkins) / SB 1210 (Burgess) 
Expands an existing public records exemption relating to human trafficking victims seeking expunction of records related to an offense.
House: Passed unanimous; Senate: Passed unanimous

Grants for Non-Profit Organizations 
HB 1615 (Fine) / SB 1480 (Calatayud) 
Directs the Division of Emergency Management to establish a security grant program for nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship and community centers, that are at high risk for violent attacks or hate crimes.
House: Passed unanimous; Senate: Passed unanimous

Surrendered Newborn Infants 
HB 899 (Canady) / SB 870 (Burton)
If passed, would have expanded circumstances authorizing a parent to legally surrender a newborn infant under 30 days of age.
House: Passed unanimous; Senate: Died in committee

Compensation for Wrongfully Incarcerated Persons 
HB 43 (Koster) / SB 382 (Bradley) 
If passed, would have revised compensation requirements and eligibility for wrongfully incarcerated persons.
House: Died in messages; Senate: Passed unanimous


Expanding Application of the Death Penalty

~ Eliminating Unanimous Jury Requirement 
HB 555 (Jacques) / SB 450 (Ingoglia)
Repeals current law that requires a jury to be unanimous in recommending a death sentence; instead requires that a recommendation by only 8 of 12 jurors is necessary to impose a sentence of death.
Catholic Days Backgrounder; FCCB press release
House: Passed 80-30; Senate: Passed 29-10; Signed by the Governor: April 20, 2023 

~ Capital Sexual Battery 
HB 1297 (Baker) / SB 1342 (Martin)
Provides that the crime of sexual battery against a minor under the age of 12 is eligible to receive the death penalty. (There is US Supreme Court precedent against executions in these cases.)
House: Passed 95-14; Senate: Passed 34-5; Signed by the Governor: May 1, 2023

~ Capital Crimes Involving Controlled Substances 
HB 365 (Plakon) / SB 280 (Brodeur)
Revises capital offense of murder to include a death caused by a controlled substance unlawfully distributed by a person 18 years of age or older. 
House: Passed 85-28; Senate: Passed 31-6

Immigration Enforcement
HB 1617 (Michael) / SB 1718 (Ingoglia) 
Increases human-smuggling penalties for transporting a minor or five or more individuals without legal status into Florida; also mandates E-Verify for private employers with 25 or more employees; directs hospitals to collect data on patient's immigration status; prohibits local community ID programs and invalidates out of state drivers' licenses issued to undocumented immigrants; and prohibits undocumented immigrants from becoming attorneys.
House: Passed 83-36; Senate: Passed 27-10

Consumer Finance Loans
HB 1267 (Fernandez-Barquin) / SB 580 (Gruters) 
Increases maximum interest rates from 18%-30% up to 36% on Chapter 516 loans for low-income consumers.
House: Passed 96-18; Senate: Passed 22-9