Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Summary of Legislative Sessions

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CS/HB 1129 (Pigman) was passed by the Civil Justice Subcommittee (10-2). The bill provides that an infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same medical care as any child born alive…

 

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March 25 – March 29, 2013
FOURTH WEEK OF THE 2013 REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Each Friday afternoon during the 60-day Session, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) provides a summary of activity on priority bills and other items of interest at the Capitol. For additional legislative action on bills closely monitored by the Conference, see the legislative bill report, which is updated on a daily basis.

Highlighted Activity for the Week
LIFE AND DEATH
Infants Born Alive Measure Continues to Move in House
On Wednesday, CS/HB 1129 (Pigman) was passed by the Civil Justice Subcommittee (10-2). The bill provides that an infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same medical care as any child born alive in the course of child birth. The measure defines a child “born alive” as a human infant at any stage of development who, after complete expulsion or extraction from the mother, breathes or has a beating heart, or voluntary movement of muscles. Companion SB 1636 (Flores) has been referred to Senate Health Policy. During the meeting, Sheila Hopkins, Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life, indicated support for the bill. For more on this proposal, see the Catholic Days information sheet.

Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act Passes First Committee of Reference
HB 845 (Van Zant), which protects unborn children from prenatal discrimination by prohibiting sex-selection or race-selection abortions, passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee (8-5) on Wednesday. During the meeting, Sheila Hopkins, Director for Social Concerns/Respect Life, expressed support for the bill. SB 1072 (Evers) waits to be heard by its first committee, Senate Health Policy.

Watch a brief video summerizing this past week’s activity on the life bills.

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SOCIAL CONCERNS
ACTION ALERT: Urge a NO vote on SB 1350 – Juvenile Life Without Parole
For over six years, the FCCB has been working to pass legislation that would eliminate life without parole sentences for juveniles under the age of 18 and allow for periodic review to determine if those sentenced could be released back into society. SB 1350 (Bradley) fails the test of offering a meaningful opportunity of review by requiring a juvenile to serve a term not less than 50 years if the judge determines that a life sentence for the juvenile is not an appropriate sentence for a capitol felony. Please act immediately, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee is meeting on Monday, April 1 at 12:15 p.m. and will take action on this bill. Click here to take action.

House Committee Votes to Protect Unborn Victims of Violence
By a vote of 8-4, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed HB 759 (Ahern). This bill, supported by the FCCB, provides that a person who engages in criminal conduct that causes the death of or bodily injury to an unborn child commits an offense to be charged separate from offenses against the mother. Companion SB 876 (Stargel) was passed by its first committee of reference last week and is now in Senate Criminal Justice.

Transactions in Fresh Produce Markets Passes Committees in both House and Senate
On Wednesday morning, HB 631 (Fullwood) was passed unanimously by the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, followed by passage of CS/SB 778 (Thompson) in Senate Appropriations (18-0), on Thursday. This proposal permits certain owners of farmers’ markets to operate electronic benefits transfer (EBT) systems for the purchase of goods, allowing for additional SNAP beneficiaries to use their EBT cards to purchase fresh produce. The FCCB supports this measure that provides access to healthy, nutritional food through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, to low-income families.

Distribution of Materials Harmful to Minors Ready to be Heard on Floor of House and Senate
SB 86 (Flores)
, which prohibits an adult from distributing pornography to minors on school grounds, passed its final Senate committee, Appropriations (19-0). Companion HB 113 (Diaz, M.) has passed all committees of reference and been placed on the House Calendar on second reading. The FCCB supports this measure.

Measure to Ensure Normal Life Experiences for Foster Children Gets Final Passage

detertNancy3Having already passed the House, CS/HB 215 (Albritton) was passed (38-0) by the Senate in place of CS/SB 164 (Detert). By establishing a “reasonable and prudent parent” standard for children in foster care, the bill gives foster parents, not bureaucrats, increased decision-making authority regarding age-appropriate extracurricular and social activities for foster children in their care. The FCCB supports this measure, which goes next to the governor. Pictured left: Sen. Nancy Detert.

HEALTH CARE
Alternatives Offered for Expanded Health Care Coverage
The Florida legislature has determined not to expand Medicaid in the manner outlined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but is considering alternative approaches that would extend coverage through private health plans to additional uninsured Floridians.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Joe Negron, has submitted SB 7038, a proposal that would cover individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($31,809 for a family of four in 2012). The program named “Healthy Florida” would be administered by the Florida Healthy Kids Corp., which is already in place providing subsidized insurance for children of low-income families. If the plan receives federal approval, Florida would qualify for about $51 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years with the state contributing about $3 billion to insure an additional estimated one million people.

It is anticipated that the Senate Health Policy Committee, chaired by Senator Aaron Bean, will offer another approach to expand coverage to low-income Floridians, without relying on federal subsidies provided under PPACA.

The Church has long supported expanding access to quality, affordable health care to individuals and families currently without health insurance, and these proposals under consideration would advance that goal. At the same time, the bishops have opposed those provisions of the Affordable Care Act that mandate coverage of objectionable services, such as sterilization, contraception and abortifacients, which violate deeply held moral and religious convictions.

Additional Bills Seeing Action This Week
For descriptions of these bills, please see the Legislative Report.

CS/HB 607 (Rogers) – Canned or Perishable Food Distribution – Favorable by Judiciary Committee (18-0)
CS/HB 7005 (Criminal Justice Subcommittee) – Massage Establishments – Favorable with CS by Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (12-0)
SB 284 (Negron) – Student Safety/School Emergencies – Read Second Time in the Senate

What to Look for Next Week
The following bills are on the schedule for next week. For descriptions of these bills, please see the Legislative Report.

SB 552 (Braynon) – Human Trafficking – Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 548 (Detert) – Florida Kidcare Program – Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 196 (Sobel) – Domestic Partnerships – Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 1740, SB 1750 (Negron) – Postconviction Death Penalty Proceedings – Judiciary, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 646 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs) – Assisted Living Facilities – Judiciary, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 1036 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs) – Independent Living – Judiciary, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 370 (Sachs) – Disposition of Human Remains – Judiciary, 04/01/13, 3:15 pm
SB 812 (Gibson) – Youth In Solitary Confinement – Criminal Justice, 04/01/13, 12:15 pm
SB 1350 (Bradley) – Juvenile Criminal Penalties – Criminal Justice, 04/01/13, 12:15 pm
SB 1216 (Bradley) – Wage Theft – Criminal Justice, 04/01/13, 12:15 pm
SB 102 (Detert) – Charitable Contributions – Commerce and Tourism, 04/01/13, 12:30 pm

Prior Summaries
Session Summary: Week 1
Session Summary: Week 2
Session Summary: Week 3

 

April 1 – April 5, 2013
FIFTH WEEK OF THE 2013 REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Each Friday afternoon during the 60-day Session, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) provides a summary of activity on priority bills and other items of interest at the Capitol. For additional legislative action on bills closely monitored by the Conference, see the legislative bill report, which is updated on a daily basis.

The 2013 Legislative Session reached its halfway point on Wednesday of this week.

Highlighted Activity for the Week
LIFE AND DEATH
Bills Protecting the Unborn Continue to Move Through Committees
CS/HB 845 (Van Zant), known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, passed its second and final committee of reference, Judiciary (8-5). The bill protects unborn children from prenatal discrimination by prohibiting sex-selection or race-selection abortions. Abortion providers are required to sign an affidavit stating they have no knowledge the pregnancy is being terminated based on the child’s sex or race and is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 for failing to report known violations. During the meeting, FCCB staff expressed support for the bill. SB 1072 (Evers) waits to be heard by its first committee, Senate Health Policy.

CS/CS/HB 1129 (Pigman) was unanimously passed by the Health and Human Services Committee after an amendment, agreed to by the sponsor, removed language that related to the surrender of the child by the mother. The bill provides that an infant born alive during an attempted abortion is entitled to the same medical care as any child born alive in the course of child birth. FCCB staff expressed support for the bill. Companion SB 1636 (Flores) is on the agenda for its first committee of reference, Senate Health Policy, on Tuesday, April 9.

HB 759 (Ahern) passed the House Judiciary Committee (12-4) on Wednesday, and has been placed on the House Calendar, on second reading. This measure, supported by the FCCB, provides that a person who engages in criminal conduct that causes the death of or bodily injury to an unborn child shall be charged with an offense separate from any charges for offenses against the mother. Companion SB 876 (Stargel) is scheduled to be heard in its first committee, Criminal Justice, on Monday, April 8.

Senate and House Committees Take Action to Speed Up Death Penalty Process
On Monday, SB 1740 (Negron)and SB 1750 (Negron), a proposed constitutional amendment and accompanying bill that aim to reduce delays in carrying out the death penalty by limiting the post-conviction appeals process, were passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-3 and 7-2 vote, respectively. SB 1750 (Negron) was also passed on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice (10-2). A similar bill in the House, HB 7083, submitted by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, was passed by the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee (8-3). The FCCB is monitoring these proposals closely and letters have been sent to both Senator Joe Negron and Representative Matt Gaetz urging that consideration of the measures be delayed until after a recent Supreme Court appointed Capital Post-Conviction Proceedings Subcommittee has completed its recommendations. The FCCB is concerned that an accelerated appeals process will result in the wrongful killing of an innocent person.

SOCIAL CONCERNS
Juvenile Life Without Parole Bill Not Taken Up; Rescheduled for Monday, April 8
Last week the FCCB issued an action alert to urge members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to vote on SB 1350 (Bradley). The bill does not provide for a meaningful review of a juvenile’s sentence and requires juvenile offenders to serve a prison term of not less than 50 years if the judge determines that a life sentence is not appropriate for a capital offense. Time ran out at Monday’s meeting of the Criminal Justice Committee before the bill could be heard, and it has been rescheduled for Monday, April 8. If you have not already responded to the action alert on this bill, please do so now. A similar bill, HB 7137 (Criminal Justice Subcommittee), is now in the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

Onerous Wage Theft Measure Acted on by First Committee of Reference
On Monday, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 1216 (Bradley) (5-1). The bill pre-empts wage theft laws to the state and requires that claims be filed in the court system, making collection of unpaid or underpaid wages a burdensome process for the employee, especially low-wage earners. While the proposed legislation includes an exemption for an existing wage theft ordinance in Miami-Dade County, an amendment to add a similar accommodation for Broward County was defeated. During the meeting, FCCB staff stated opposition to the bill. Companion CS/HB 1125 (Goodson) is now in the House Local and Federal Affairs Committee.

Senate Committee Narrowly Approves Domestic Partnership Bill
The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on Monday passed SB 196 (Sobel) on a close 5-4 vote. The bill establishes a statewide domestic partnership registry and gives domestic partners certain legal rights granted only to married couples. Several local communities in Florida have already created similar registries. FCCB staff expressed opposition to the bill during the meeting. The measure is not anticipated to advance through its remaining references. Companion HB 259 (Pafford) has yet to be heard in its first committee of reference. Read a letter to Senator Sobel re concerns prompting opposition to SB 196.

HEALTH CARE
Senate Health Policy Committee Offers Alternative to Medicaid Expansion
SB 1844, a second Senate alternative to expanding Medicaid, was submitted by the Health Policy Committee (7-3) on Tuesday. The proposal championed by Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean expands coverage to low-income Floridians, without relying on federal subsidies provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

To help pay for health care services, the proposal would create the Health Choice Plus Program, a health benefits fund that would receive contributions from both enrollees and the state. The plan is aimed at adults whose incomes are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($23,550 for a family of four). Health Choice Plus would be administered by Florida Health Choices, a virtual state health care marketplace.

Watch a brief video outlining the public policy discussion about expanding access to care for uninsured Floridians.

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Committee Approves Bill that Facilitates Access to Care for Children
SB 548 (Detert) was passed unanimously by Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs and allows children under 19 years of age applying to the Florida KidCare Program through a qualified provider to be presumptively eligible for the program. Companion CS/HB 689 (Harrell) is now in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

EDUCATION
School Emergencies Bill Passes Full Senate
With the 2012 Session coming to an end before a similar measure could be acted on by the full Senate, unanimous passage of CS/SB 284 (Negron) Thursday in the Senate chamber marks a significant step for an issue advocated by Catholic Days participants the past two years. The bill requires agencies responsible for notifying public schools about certain local emergencies to also notify private schools in the area if they opt-in to receive such alerts. In addition, the measure includes a provision to allow both public and private schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors for use if a student is having an anaphylactic reaction. The bill now goes to the House where its companion, CS/HB 369 (La Rosa) also saw action this week, passing the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday (17-0). For more on the amended bill, see an updated information sheet.

Hundreds Rally for School Choice

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Pictures left panel: Sen. John Legg (left) with James Herzog, Associate Director for Education / Pictured right panel: Commissioner Tony Bennett speaks to the crowd gathered at the Capitol.

School choice organizations held a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday to raise awareness of education options for children in Florida. Several hundred school children joined parents, elected officials and other advocates to promote the role of parents in meeting the educational needs of their children. Governor Rick Scott, Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett, and past and present legislators were among those who spoke to attendees.

Additional Bills Seeing Action This Week
For descriptions of these bills, please see the Legislative Report.

CS/CS/HB 113 (Diaz, M.) – Distribution of Materials Harmful to Minors – House Passed (115-3)
SB 1036 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs) – Independent Living – Favorable by Judiciary (9-0)
CS/SB 500 (Clemens) – Massage Establishments – Favorable with CS by Community Affairs (9-0)
SB 552 (Braynon) – Victim Testimony – Favorable by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs (9-0)
CS/SB 646 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs) – Assisted Living Facilities – Favorable by Judiciary (8-0)
CS/SB 102 (Detert) – Charitable Contributions – Favorable by Commerce and Tourism (10-1)
CS/SB 370 (Sachs) – Disposition of Human Remains – Favorable by Judiciary (6-0)

What to Look for Next Week
The following bills are on the schedule for next week. For descriptions of these bills, please see the Legislative Report.

SB 876 (Stargel) – Unborn Victims of Violence – Criminal Justice, 04/08/13, 1:00 pm
SB 974 (Sobel) – Florida Victim’s Relief Act – Criminal Justice, 04/08/13, 1:00 pm
SB 1350 (Bradley) – Juvenile Criminal Penalties – Criminal Justice, 04/08/13, 1:00 pm
SB 282 (Richter) – Consumer Finance Charges – Commerce and Tourism, 04/08/13, 1:00 pm
CS/CS/SB 58 (Hays) – Application of Foreign Law – Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, 04/08/13, 4:00 pm
CS/SB 102 (Detert) – Charitable Contributions – Rules, 04/09/13, 9:00 am
SB 402 (Joyner) – Homelessness – Rules, 04/09/13, 9:00 am
CS/CS/SB 778 (Thompson) – Transactions in Fresh Produce Markets – Rules, 04/09/13, 9:00 am
SB 1636 (Flores) – Infants Born Alive – Health Policy, 04/09/13, 1:30 pm
CS/SB 500 (Clemens) – Massage Establishments – Health Policy, 04/09/13, 1:30 pm

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