Florida Catholic Conference

January 30-February 3, 2012

FOURTH WEEK OF THE 2012 REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION Each Friday afternoon during the 60-day Session, the Conference highlights legislative action on priority bills and provides a summary of activities of interest at the Capitol. For additional filed bills closely followed by Florida Catholic Conference staff, see the legislative bill report, which is updated on a daily basis.

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Highlighted Action This Week
LIFE AND DEATH
Prenatal Non-Discrimination
HB 1327 (Plakon), which requires a doctor to sign an affidavit stating that he or she is not performing an abortion because of the child’s sex or race, was found favorable by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee (7-5) and is now in the Health and Human Services Committee. Conference staff indicated support for the measure during the committee meeting. Companion SB 1702 (Siplin) has been referred to Senate Health Regulation.

Postfertilization Age of Unborn Child
HB 839 (Davis) prohibits an abortion if the postfertilization age of an unborn child is determined to be 20 or more weeks except in cases that could result in the death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of the woman. Conference staff stated support for the bill during the meeting of the Civil Justice Subcommittee where it was found favorable with a Committee Substitute (8-5). The measure is now in Health and Human Services Committee. Presently, there is no Senate companion for this bill.

Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act
HB 137 (Ahern) was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (9-5). The bill, for the purposes of vehicular homicide, defines the term “unborn child” to mean the unborn offspring of a human being at any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth. Conference staff indicated support for the measure at the committee meeting, and it is now in the Judiciary Committee. Companion SB 234 (Fasano) awaits a hearing by its first committee of reference, Criminal Justice.

SOCIAL CONCERNS
Juvenile Justice

Sec. Walters, on left, with Sheila Hopkins

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Dept. of Juvenile Justice press conference

On Tuesday, a press conference was held by Wansley Walters, Secretary, Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), who spoke about the role of the Department to assist troubled youth as they transition to a productive adulthood. Secretary Walters was joined by DJJ staff and four young ladies representing those who have been served by the juvenile justice system.

Sexual Exploitation
CS/HB 99 (Fresen), cited as the “Florida Safe Harbor Act”, authorizes placement of children alleged to be dependent and sexually exploited in short-term safe houses and provides for a presumption that such placement is necessary. The bill was found favorable by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee (14-0) and is now in the Health and Human Services Committee. Conference staff indicated support for the measure during the committee meeting. CS/SB 202 (Flores) is now in Senate Budget, its last committee of reference.

Human Trafficking
SB 1880 (Flores) provides additional jurisdiction for the Office of Statewide Prosecution relating to human trafficking and increases the criminal penalty for a person who knowingly engages in human trafficking from a second degree felony to a first degree felony and for human smuggling from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony. The bill was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by Criminal Justice (6-0) and is now in Senate Budget. Conference staff indicated support for the measure during the meeting. Companion HB 7049 (Snyder) is now in the House Appropriations Committee.

Homeless Youth
SB 1662 (Latvala)
was found favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs (6-0) and is now in Judiciary. Companion HB 1351 (Glorioso) was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by Civil Justice Subcommittee (15-0) and is on the agenda for Health and Human Services, 02/07/12, 1:30 pm. This measure provides that a minor who is certified homeless may obtain a certified copy of his or her birth certificate and other identification documents and shall have specified rights as long as they retain that status. Members of Conference staff were present at both Senate and House committee meetings to state support for the bills.

Child Pornography
HB 1385 (Trujillo) was found favorable by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (15-0) and is now in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill revises provisions related to child pornography to include visual depictions in which it appears that a minor is engaging in sexual conduct and provides that proof of the identity of a minor is not required. Conference staff stated support for the bill. Companion SB 1618 (Storms) has been referred to Senate Criminal Justice.

Individuals with Disabilities / Service Animals
CS/HB 1077 (Kriseman) provides individuals with a disability who are accompanied by a service animal certain rights with regard to public or housing accommodations. The bill was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute by the Civil Justice Subcommittee (13-0) and is on the agenda for Health and Human Services, 02/07/12, 1:30 pm. Conference staff stated support for the bill during the subcommittee meeting. Companion SB 1382 (Bennett) has been referred to Children, Families, and Elder Affairs in the Senate.

Destination Casino Resorts
HB 487 (Fresen), which expands casino gambling in Florida, was temporarily postponed by the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee. This action means the bill is likely dead for the 2012 Session. Companion CS/SB 710 (Bogdanoff) passed its first committee of reference earlier this year and has been referred to Senate Budget. The Florida Catholic Conference has issued astatement opposing the expansion of casino gambling due to its victimization of the poor.

EDUCATION

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James Herzog

High School Athletics
SB 1704 (Wise) creates the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association to govern private-school athletics. The bill was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by Senate Education Pre-K-12 (4-1) and is now in the Budget Subcommittee on Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations. During the meeting, James Herzog, associate director for education, gave testimony in opposition to the bill. A related but not identical bill, HB 1403(Stargel), was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by the House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee (11-4) and is referred next to the Education Committee.

Read Mr. Herzog’s full testimony


Catholic Schools Week

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Students in front of the Capitol

On Wednesday, SB 932 (Altman), a resolution recognizing January 29 – February 4, 2012 as “Catholic Schools Week” in the State of Florida, was adopted by the Senate. On the floor of the chamber, Senator Altman, a product of Catholic school education, recognized that the state of Florida is strengthened through the existence of Catholic schools. He also acknowledged 30-plus students from Trinity Catholic School in Tallahassee seated in the Senate gallery with parents and staff to witness the adoption of the resolution. HB 9025 (Kiar), a similar resolution recognizing Catholic Schools Week, was adopted by the House.

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Students pictured with Senator Altman, back row, second from left

 

Read the full 
Senate and House resolutions.

 

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Students on the floor of House chamber