SECOND 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 filed bills closely followed by Florida Catholic Conference staff, see the legislative bill report, which is updated on a daily basis.
Highlighted Bill Action This Week
CS/SB 202 (Flores), 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 with a Committee Substitute by the Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations (7-0) and is referred next to the Senate Budget Committee. Conference staff indicated support for the measure during the committee meeting. CS/HB 99 (Fresen) is now in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Restraint of Incarcerated Pregnant Women
HB 367 (Reed) prohibits use of restraints on a prisoner known to be pregnant during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery except in extraordinary circumstances. The bill was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute at a meeting of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (13-0), during which Conference staff indicated support of the bill. The measure is now in the Rulemaking and Regulation Subcommittee. Companion, SB 524 (Joyner), has already unanimously passed the Senate and is in messages to the House.
SB 1130 (Storms) was reported favorably with 1 amendment by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs (6-0). 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. The measure goes next to Senate Transportation. Companion CS/HB 531 (Reed) had its reference to the House Appropriations Committee removed and is now in the Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 227 (Stargel) was reported favorably with a Committee Substitute by the House Health and Human Services Quality Subcommittee (11-0) and is now in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. This bill creates the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. CS/SB 402 (Negron) goes next to Senate Budget. The measure is supported by the Conference.
Long Term Care Facilities
Termed the “patients before paperwork” bill, both Senate and House companions moved through committee stops this week. This measure deletes duplicative nursing home regulations and reduces paperwork for nurses and nursing assistants. SB 482 (Latvala) was reported favorably with 1 amendment by Senate Health Regulation (7-0) and goes next to Budget. CS/HB 621 (Frishe) was reported favorably by the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee (13-1) and is now in the Health and Human Services Committee. Conference staff stated support for the bill during the House subcommittee meeting.
Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program
Having received clarification on a testing provision in the bill (that allows for optional FCAT testing in the private school setting and paid for under the Florida Department of Education’s budget), the Conference has now taken a position in support of HB 859 (Corcoran). In addition to increasing the funding cap for the FTC Scholarship Program from $175 million to $250 million, allowing as many as 6500 more students from low-income families to access the program, the bill also eliminates the eligibility requirement that students in grades 2-12 have attended public school the prior year. The measure is now in the House Finance and Tax Committee.
Catholic Schools Week
Resolutions recognizing January 29 through February 5, 2012 as “Catholic Schools Week” in the State of Florida have been filed in both chambers. SB 932 (Altman) and HB 9025 (Kiar) acknowledge that the common good of the state of Florida is strengthened through the existence of Catholic schools. As designated by the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Schools week is celebrated annually by the Catholic school community. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.” The House resolution additionally recognizes Wednesday, February 1, 2012, as National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools in Florida.