Florida Catholic Conference Updates

In several key areas, the work of the Conference to engage legislators and encourage just decisions on behalf of the residents of our state was met with success during the March 8 through May 7 regular session of the Florida legislature. Three of the four issues advocated by participants at this year’s Catholic Days at the Capitol were passed this session.



 June 2011

Volume 4

Issue 2 



> 2011 Legislative Session Highlights

> Florida’s 2011-2012 Fiscal Year Budget

> FCC Advocacy Network Activity

> Conference Board of Directors Experiences Change

> Superintendents: Departures and Arrivals

> School Administrators Conference

> 2011 State Respect Life Conference

Archdiocese of Miami

Diocese of St. Augustine

Diocese of St. Petersburg

Diocese of Orlando

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Diocese of Palm Beach

Diocese of Venice

Florida Catholic Conference
201 W. Park Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 222-3803


2011 Legislative Session Highlights

In several key areas, the work of the Conference to engage legislators and encourage just decisions on behalf of the residents of our state was met with success during the March 8 through May 7 regular session of the Florida legislature. Three of the four issues advocated by participants at this year’s Catholic Days at the Capitol were passed this session.

Prolife legislation helps to ensure protections for unborn; safeguards health of women in Florida
The legislature passed five prolife bills. Three of the measures currently await the governor’s signature: CS/HB 1127 (Porter) requires an ultrasound be performed and reviewed with a woman prior to an abortion; HB 1247 (Stargel) strengthens parental notice of abortion provisions; and HB 501 (Baxley) provides for fees collected on the Choose Life license plate to go to Choose Life, Inc. for distribution. Recently signed by the governor, CS/HB 97 (Gaetz, M.) restricts the use of public dollars to pay for abortion in the health exchange established by federal health reform.

CS/HJR 1179 (Baxley) proposes an amendment to Florida’s Constitution to prohibit public funding of abortions and prohibit our State Constitution from being interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional amendments bypass the governor, and the proposal is expected to appear on the 2012 General Election ballot.

Religious Freedom Act to be placed before voters in 2012
CS/HJR 1471 (Plakon) proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to provide, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, that no individual or entity be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support. The proposal is expected to appear on the 2012 General Election ballot.

McKay Scholarship Program for students with disabilities expanded
CS/HB 1329 (Bileca), which has been signed by the governor, expands program eligibility to include students with mental or physical disabilities such as diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism, etc. on “504 accommodation plans”. The proposal streamlines the McKay entry process and helps parents with more than one child keep their children together at the same school when one child has a disability.

Punitive measures against immigrants fail
A Senate passed immigration bill died in the House, where it was not taken up for consideration. CS/SB 2040 (Judiciary) would have mandated state workforce centers to verify employment eligibility using the federal E-verify program, persons seeking public benefits to undergo screening to determine immigration status and local and state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of suspects following an arrest. A House version, CS/HB 7089 (Snyder), was passed in committee but not heard by the full House. See our Immigration Web page for activity in opposition to immigration legislation at the state level.

For the final status of additional legislation followed by the Conference,
see our legislative report and weekly session summaries.



Florida’s 2011-2012 Fiscal Year Budget – Items of Interest
On the last day of the session, the legislature passed a $69.7 billion budget. Before signing the final budget into law, Governor Rick Scott eliminated $615 million in spending. > Governor Scott’s veto message and list of line-item vetoes Throughout the session, the Conference encouraged Senate and House leaders and budget chairs to pursue fiscal policies that preserve life, promote families and protect the most vulnerable. The status of specific funding issues engaged by the Conference follows:
Pregnancy Support Services – A $2 million allocation for crisis pregnancy centers was included in the final budget. Funding for the program has been in the budget since 2006 and maintains a network of 50 crisis pregnancy centers that provide counseling, information and resources for pregnant women.

Programs for the Homeless – Funding at risk of being eliminated was restored, including the Office of Homelessness at the Department of Children and Families. An additional $366,000 was allocated for Homeless Transition Programs.

Agency for Persons with Disabilities – Funds were allocated to help resolve a $174 million deficit in the Medicaid program that serves about 30,000 developmentally disabled individuals.

Affordable Housing Trust Fund – Proposals to permanently redirect the Housing Trust Funds to general revenue failed. However, starting in fiscal year 2012-2013, there is a permanent redirection of $75 million per year to the State Enhancement Economic Development (SEED) Trust Fund. In addition, the legislature repealed the cap on the Sadowski Housing Trust Funds.

Health Care – The budget includes a 12 percent Medicaid rate cut for hospitals. Children’s hospitals will see a four percent cut and nursing homes 6.5 percent. Such substantial cuts are likely to result in job losses and paring down of services. Medically Needy and Medicaid for Aged and Disabled, significant programs which provide benefits to vulnerable populations, were preserved in the budget.


FCC Advocacy Network Activity
When it is important for elected officials to hear from their constituents, our FCC Advocacy Network members never hesitate to answer the call to action. In response to six state and three federal alerts since the start of 2011, nearly 12,000 electronic messages were sent through our online system urging lawmakers to take the steps necessary to protect human life and dignity and promote the common good.


State alerts:
March 21, 2011: Urge Governor and Legislators to Continue Funding for Homeless Programs
March 30, 2011: Urge Florida Senate to Save the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
April 6, 2011: Urge Senate to address Agency for Persons with Disabilities Deficit
April 16, 2011: Urge Your State House Member to Vote No on HB 7089, Regarding Immigration
April 25, 2011: Pro-Life Measures Scheduled for Florida House Tomorrow
April 28, 2011: Urge Expansion of McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

Federal alerts:

February 8, 2011: Urge Your U.S. Representative to Support and Co-sponsor Three New Pro-Life Bills
March 3, 2011: Urge U.S. Senate to Reject Cuts in Funding for Refugee Assistance and Resettlement
April 9, 2011: U.S. House to Vote Soon on No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

The FCC Advocacy Network provides an excellent opportunity for Catholics in Florida to carry out their responsibility to participate in political life. Over the past year, diocesan and parish efforts to promote the network have helped to more than double our database, which now totals nearly 18,000 network members. Please encourage your family and friends to join by visiting www.flacathconf.org.

Conference Board of Directors Experiences Change


> More on Bishop Ricard

With grateful appreciation and warmest
regards upon your retirement

Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop Emeritus of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Retired March 11, 2011

> More on Bishop Galeone

Bishop Victor B. Galeone
Bishop Emeritus of St. Augustine
Retired April 27, 2011



> More on Bishop Estévez

With congratulations and hope
for a blessed future

Bishop Felipe J. Estévez
Tenth Bishop of St. Augustine
Installed June 1, 2011


Superintendents: Departures and Arrivals

Sr. Joan Dawson

The Florida Catholic Conference offers a fond farewell to Sister Joan Dawson, O.S.F. After 32 years of service to the education programs of the Florida Catholic Conference, and 20 years of service to the Diocese of Palm Beach as Superintendent of Schools, Sr. Joan is retiring. Sr. Joan is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany and celebrated 50 years of religious life in 2010. She has spent her ministry in education, serving as a high school teacher in New York, New Jersey and Florida, and high school administrator in Fort Myers. She served as superintendent of schools in the Diocese of St. Petersburg before moving to the Diocese of Palm Beach in 1991. As superintendent, Sr. Joan served on the Florida Catholic Conference Schools Executive Committee and Accreditation Committee.

Mr. Gary Gelo

Effective July 1, 2011, Mr. Gary Gelo will join the Diocese of Palm Beach as Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Gelo has served as an educator on both the elementary and secondary levels, as principal, and as superintendent of schools in Shreveport, Louisiana and Charleston, South Carolina.

Mr. Henry Fortier

Effective the end of June 2011, Mr. Henry Fortier, who is replacing the retiring Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, will fill the position of Secretary of Faith Formation / Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Orlando. Mr. Fortier has been serving as Associate Superintendent for Public Policy and Student Services in the Archdiocese of New York and previously served in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Dr. Kim Pryzbylski

Effective July 1, 2011, Dr. Kim Pryzbylski will serve as the the Senior Director of Faith Formation and Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Miami, replacing Brother Richard DeMaria, now serving his Christian Brothers’ community in South Africa. Dr. Pryzbylski has spent her entire professional career within Catholic school systems, from teacher to principal to superintendent of schools in Gary, Indiana and, most recently, Monterey, California.

All three new superintendents will serve on the Florida Catholic Conference Schools Executive Committee.


At a recent meeting of the FCC Schools Executive Committee, pictured left to right: James Herzog, Associate for Education; Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich; Sr. Joan Dawson; Bishop Gerald Barbarito of Palm Beach, episcopal moderator of education; Sr. Rosemary Hickman; and Br. Angelo Palmieri.

Sister Rosemary Hickmann, O.P., Associate Superintendent for the Diocese of Orlando, will be relocating to the Archdiocese of Chicago to serve as Assistant Superintendent. Brother Angelo Palmieri, acting Superintendent for the Archdiocese of Miami, will be returning to the classroom at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.



Catholic Schools
FCC Administrators’ Conference

Building on Our Legacy

October 5-7, 2011
Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando

> Conference Brochure
> Administrators Registration Form
> Vendors Registration Form


Keynote Speaker:
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City

Guest Speakers Include:

Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director, Bryan, TX, Author of unPLANNED

Dale Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain to Florida’s Death Row, Author of Now I Walk on Death Row

Sheila Hopkins, Florida Catholic Conference, Associate Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life
Celebrating Success of Prolife Bills in Florida Legislative Session

Sponsored by:
Florida Catholic Conference
State Pro-Life Coordinating Committee

Hosted by: Diocese of Venice in Florida

> conference brochure
> register online

Registration deadline: September 15, 2011