The House and Senate chambers approved an $88.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. HB 5001, the General Appropriations Act, passed the House (95-12) and the Senate (31-5). The budget will go to Governor Rick Scott who has line item veto authority.

The final status of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops priorities in the state budget include:

  • Pregnancy Support Services – Funding remains at its current level. $4 million is allocated to the Florida Pregnancy Care Network 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.
  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund – The legislature has appropriated $123.6 million of affordable housing trust fund dollars. $198 million of available housing funds was swept to general revenue for other projects. The FCCB has long supported full funding of housing trust funds to assist vulnerable populations with housing needs.
  • Medicaid Hospital Funding – The Health and Human Services (HHS) budget removes $50 million in non-recurring general revenue from Florida Medicaid hospital funding. Because state dollars are matched by federal Medicaid dollars, the cut amounts to a $130 million reduction in funding for Medicaid. The budget, however, includes $318 million in enhanced payments to 28 not-for-profit hospitals in Florida.
  • Medicaid Nursing Home Funding – Nursing homes will receive an increase of $130 million in Medicaid funding as well as $10 million to help support nursing centers as they transition to a new payment system in October. Also, residents who live in those facilities will receive a $25 increase in a monthly stipend they can use for personal needs.
  • Gardiner Scholarship Program – An additional $25 million has been allocated for Gardiner Scholarships for children with special needs, bringing total funding for the program to approximately $128.3 million. The additional funding will help the program meet rising demand. There are approximately 1,300 students on the wait list for the scholarships and thousands more have expressed interest.
  • 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 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. Links are provided to final House and Senate votes.


  • Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
    HB 41 (Toledo) / SB 444 (Bean): SUPPORT
    Codifies the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program in Florida Statutes – Catholic Days Backgrounder
    House: Passed 73-29
    Senate: Passed 21-12
    Governor: Presented to governor; must act by 3/24/18


  • HB 7101 (Approps) / SB 7026 (Rules): SUPPORT
    Raises the age from 18 to 21 and imposes a three-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms; bans bump-stocks; authorizes law enforcement to seize firearms and ammunition of a person who poses a danger to himself or herself or others; prohibits a person who has been subject to involuntary examination and commitment from owning or possessing a firearm; provides for additional public school hardening; increases funding for mental health services in public schools; establishes an optional “guardian” program for sheriff’s offices and school boards that allows trained public school employees to carry guns; appropriates $400 million to implement bill provisions
    House: Passed 67-50
    Senate: Passed 20-18
    Governor: Signed by Governor Scott
    (The National Rifle Association immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the new law.)


  • HB 7055 (Education): MONITOR
    Addresses a broad range of education issues, including strengthening state oversight of K-12 scholarship programs, such as the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) and McKay programs; improves access for nonpublic school students to dual enrollment courses offered by public colleges or universities; adds new funding source for Gardiner and FTC scholarships; establishes the “Hope Scholarship Program” for public school students who have been victims of bullying or violence and wish to transfer to another public or participating nonpublic school – Testimony offered to Senate Education Committee
    House: Passed 74-39
    Senate: Passed 20-17
    Governor: Signed by Governor Scott


  • HB 1197 (Ahern) / SB 1392 (Brandes): SUPPORT
    Allows expunction of first-time misdemeanor offense for juveniles upon completion of a diversion program; encourages local prearrest diversion programs for certain adult offenders
    House: Passed 116-0
    Senate: Passed 36-1
    Governor: Not yet presented to governor


  • HB 857 (Grant, J.) / SB 920 (Bradley): OPPOSE
    Allows new product for payday loans up to $1000 that charges higher fees and interest rates than existing products – Letter to Senator Bradley, bill sponsor; Op-ed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami on the practice of unscrupulous lending
    House: Passed 106-9
    Senate: Passed 31-5
    Governor: Not yet presented to governor


  • HB 21 (Boyd) / SB 8 (Benacquisto): SUPPORT
    Imposes a three-day limit on prescriptions for treatment of acute pain; allows physicians to prescribe up to seven-day supplies of controlled substances if deemed medically necessary; exempts cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, palliative care patients and those who suffer from major trauma from the limits; requires physicians or their staff to check with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing or dispensing drugs
    House: Passed 99-0
    Senate: Passed 37-0
    Governor: Not yet presented to governor


  • HR 157 (Spano): SUPPORT
    Resolution that recognizes public health risk created by pornography and acknowledges need for education, prevention, research and policy change to protect citizens of this state
    House: Adopted on a voice vote
    (Resolutions only require passage by one chamber and do not require action by the governor.)

Bills That Died During the Session


  • Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue
    HB 6031 (Geller) / SB 1416 (Farmer): Support
    Repeals provisions providing for the death penalty for capital felonies – Catholic Days Backgrounder
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee
  • SB 870 (Bracy): Support
    Provides legislative intent regarding the retroactive application of Hurst v. State; finds that partial retroactivity of unanimous jury requirement in death penalty cases results in a miscarriage of justice
    Senate: Passed 33-3
    House: Died in messages


  • HB 1429 (Grall) / SB 1890 (Mayfield): SUPPORT
    Prohibits a physician from knowingly performing a dismemberment abortion of a live fetus
    House: Passed 72-42
    Senate: Died in committee


  • HB 9 (Metz) / SB 308 (Bean): OPPOSE
    Requires local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration policy without providing resources and funding, undermining local law enforcement efforts – Letter to Rep. Metz, bill sponsor
    House: Passed 71-35
    Senate: Died in committee
  • HB 475 (Jacquet) / SB 882 (Campbell): SUPPORT
    Urges Congress to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee


  • HB 555 (Olszewski) / SB 642 (Baxley): SUPPORT
    Establishes a maximum annual percentage rate (APR) for payday loans
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee

Catholic Days at the Capitol Issue

  • HB 829 (Plasencia) / SB 1080 (Baxley): SUPPORT
    Removes the prior-public-attendance requirement for kindergarten to 5th grade students seeking to participate in the McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities; allows a licensed physician or psychologist to diagnose the child and provide documentation to parents – Catholic Days Backgrounder
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee


  • HB 1339 (Pigman) / SB 474 (Brandes): MONITOR
    Establishes Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Program within Department of Health; authorizes specified personnel to withhold or withdraw cardiopulmonary resuscitation if presented with a POLST form that contains an order not to resuscitate the patient; facilitates shared decision-making between a patient and his or her health care professional that generate actionable medical orders
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee
  • HB 497 (Stone) / SB 724 (Garcia): MONITOR
    As amended, creates new definitions for “community palliative care”, “hospice program” and “seriously ill”; allows hospice providers the option to provide community palliative care services to seriously ill patients and their families, which would be limited to services by a physician, ARNP, social worker and chaplain
    House: Died in committee
    Senate: Died in committee

Via FCCB e-update – March 11, 2018