Florida Catholic Conference: February 13-17, 2012

 

SIXTH 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.

CatholicDaysatCapitol

SIXTH 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.

Catholic Days at the Capitol group photos of participants by (arch)diocese are now available. Click here to view and print photos.

 

SAVE THE DATE:
Catholic Days at the Capitol, March 19-20, 2013
Red Mass of the Holy Spirit, March 20, 2013

Highlighted Legislative Action for the Week

LIFE AND DEATH
Abortion Clinic Regulations
SB 290 (Flores) is a comprehensive bill with several critical provisions including that a 24-hour waiting period occurs before an abortion can be performed, an infant born alive after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights as other infants, and abortion clinics be owned and operated by physicians with specified training. Shortly after an action alert was issued this week to urge Senate leadership to schedule SB 290, the bill was placed on the agenda for the Health Regulation Committee on Thursday. Since the bill’s sponsor, Senator Anitere Flores, was chairing another committee and could not be there to present the bill, it was temporarily postponed and is expected to be on the Health Regulation Committee agenda next Wednesday. Companion HB 277 (Burgin), having passed its first committee of reference, is now in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act
After a contentious debate regarding the definition of “unborn child” and whether this is opening the door to change in abortion law, SB 234 (Fasano) was temporarily postponed by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The bill defines the term “unborn child” to mean the unborn offspring of a human being at any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth. It remains uncertain if the bill will be re-scheduled for the committee next week. HB 137 (Ahern) is in the House Judiciary Committee.

SOCIAL CONCERNS
Human Trafficking
HB 7049 (Snyder)
was found favorable by the House Appropriations Committee (19-0) and placed on the House Calendar, on second reading. The bill strengthens state law by providing additional jurisdiction for the Office of Statewide Prosecution, increasing criminal penalties to first degree felonies for a person who engages in human trafficking and human smuggling, and enhancing penalties for those who traffic minors and persons not legally authorized to work in the United States. Companion CS/SB 1880 (Flores) is now in Senate Budget, its last committee of reference.

Sexual Exploitation
Cited as the “Florida Safe Harbor Act”, CS/HB 99 (Fresen) authorizes placement of children alleged to be dependent and sexually exploited in short-term safe houses. The bill was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by the House Health and Human Services Committee (17-0), its last reference. CS/SB 202 (Flores) is now in Senate Budget, its last committee of reference. The Conference supports this measure.

Inmate Reentry
CS/CS/HB 177 (Porth) directs the Department of Corrections to develop and administer a reentry program for nonviolent offenders that would allow judges to reduce the sentences of inmates who successfully complete the program and meet certain qualifications. The bill was reported favorably by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (13-1) and is now in Judiciary. Companion CS/SB 448 (Bogdanoff) is now in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations. This measure is supported by the Conference.

Restraint of Incarcerated Pregnant Women
CS/HB 367 (Reed) was also reported favorably by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (14-0). The bill prohibits the use of restraints on a prisoner known to be pregnant during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery. It is now in the Judiciary Committee. Companion SB 524 (Joyner) was passed unanimously by the full Senate last month and remains in messages to the House. This measure is supported by the Conference. 

Homelessness
CS/HB 531 (Reed) was amended and passed unanimously by the House. This bill, supported by the Conference, requires the motor vehicle registration
form and driver license application to include an option to make a voluntary contribution to aid the homeless and establishes a homelessness prevention grant program. Companion SB 1130 (Storms) is now in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations.

Homeless Youth
CS/HB 1351 (Glorioso) was passed unanimously by the House. The measure provides that a minor who is certified homeless shall have specified legal rights including the right to obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate and other identification documents needed for employment, education and other purposes. The measure is supported by the Conference. Companion CS/SB 1662 (Latvala) was placed on the Senate Calendar, on second reading.

Children
CS/CS/HB 227 (Stargel), which creates the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns, was passed unanimously by the House. Companion CS/SB 402 (Negron) goes next to Senate Budget. The measure is supported by the Conference.

Child Pornography
HB 1385 (Trujillo) was found favorable by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (14-0) and is now in its last committee of reference, Judiciary. The bill revises the definition of 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. Companion SB 1618 (Storms) has not been heard by its first committee of reference, Senate Criminal Justice. The Conference supports this measure.

Postsecondary Student Fees
SB 106 (Siplin), a bill that would have allowed undocumented students who met specific requirements to pay instate tuition at Florida postsecondary institutions, was reported unfavorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee (3-4), killing the bill for the year. The Conference had supported this measure. The House companion, HB 81 (Bullard, D.), has not been heard in committee.

HEALTH
Florida KidCare Program
SB 1294 (Garcia, R.)
, which allows lower-income, legal immigrant children to participate in the KidCare program, was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by the Health Regulation Committee (5-0) and is referred next to Budget. Conference staff stated support for the measure during the committee meeting. This bill does not have a House companion.

Nursing Homes and Related Health Care Facilities
CS/HB 621 (Frishe), termed the “patients before paperwork” bill, was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute by the House Health and Human Services Committee (18-0). This measure deletes duplicative nursing home regulations and reduces paperwork for nurses and nursing assistants. SB 482 (Latvala) is now in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations. The Conference supports this measure.

EDUCATION
Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program
CS/HB 859 (Corcoran) was found favorable with a Committee Substitute by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee (10-4) and is now in the Education Committee. This bill increases the funding cap for the FTC Scholarship Program from $175 million to $229 million. In addition, it eliminates the eligibility requirement that students in grades 2-5 have attended public school the prior year. The Conference also supports a similar but not identical bill, CS/SB 962 (Benacquisto). This bill increases the funding cap from $175 million to $250 million and is now in Senate Budget.

Youth Athletes
CS/HB 291 (Renuart) requires the adoption of policies relating to the nature and risk of concussion and head injury in youth athletes. The bill was found favorable by the Education Committee (15-0) and has been placed on the House Calendar, on second reading. Companion CS/SB 256 (Flores) is now in Senate Budget, its last committee of reference. This measure is being monitored by the Conference.

Student Safety
HB 273 (Kiar) was passed unanimously by the House. The bill requires emergency response agencies responsible for notifying public school districts of emergencies to also notify private schools in the district. Private schools can opt in to receive notices for local emergencies such as bank robberies, bomb threats, etc. A similar bill, CS/SB 494 (Negron) includes an additional provision that allows public and private schools to purchase from a wholesale distributor and maintain in a secure location a supply of epinephrine auto injectors. These could be used to save a child’s life if he or she has a severe allergic reaction. This bill was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute by Military Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security (5-0) and goes next to Budget. Conference staff stated support for the measure during the committee meeting.

Prior Legislative Summaries
Session Summary: Week 1
Session Summary: Week 2
Session Summary: Week 3
Session Summary: Week 4
Session Summary: Week 5