Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Updates

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.

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DATE CHANGE – PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS The dates of next year’s CATHOLIC DAYS AT THE CAPITOL have been changed from March 18-19 to MARCH 25-26, 2014.

April 22 – April 26, 2013
EIGHTH 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
Bill to Protect Infants Born Alive Passes Final Senate Committee
On Tuesday, CS/CS/SB 1636 (Flores) was approved unanimously by Senate Appropriations, its last committee of reference, and is on the Senate Special Order Calendar for Monday, April 29. The bill provides that an infant born alive during an attempted abortion is required to be transported to the nearest emergency medical facility for immediate treatment. The measure also requires abortion providers to report infants born alive to state health officials. CS/CS/CS/HB 1129 (Pigman) was passed unanimously by the House last week.

House Passes Measure to Accelerate Death Penalty; Senate Amendments Fail
CS/CS/HB 7083 (Criminal Justice Subcommittee) was passed by the House (84-34) on Thursday, then taken up by the Senate on Friday in place of CS/CS/SB 1750 (Negron) and rolled to third reading. The bill aims to reduce delays in carrying out the death penalty by limiting the post-conviction appeals process. The FCCB is concerned that an accelerated process may result in the wrongful killing of an innocent person. An amendment offered by Senator Darren Soto would have required a 10-2 vote by the jury in order to recommend a sentence of death, as opposed to the simple majority (7-5) in current law. Another amendment by Senator Thad Altman would have replaced a provision in the bill that states the Governor “shall” issue a warrant for execution with “may” issue a warrant. Both amendments failed on a voice vote.

SOCIAL CONCERNS

Juvenile Sentencing Bill Advanced by Senate Committee; Good Amendments Rejected
On Tuesday, CS/SB 1350 (Bradley) was passed by Appropriations (13-4) and is on the Senate Special Order Calendar for Monday, April 29, 2013. Two amendments by Senator Arthenia Joyner failed to be adopted by the committee. One amendment would have reduced the minimum required sentence for juvenile offenders in homicide cases from the proposed 50 years to 30 years. The second would have provided for a re-sentencing hearing after 25 years. Sheila Hopkins, FCCB director of social concerns/respect life, expressed support for both amendments at the meeting and urged opposition to the bill in its current form in a letter to members of the Appropriations Committee.

The measure requires juveniles convicted of a nonhomicide offense to serve a prison term of up to 50 years and a juvenile convicted of a capital offense to be sentenced to at least 50 years if the judge determines that a life sentence is not appropriate. Companion CS/HB 7137 (Criminal Justice Subcommittee) has been placed on the House Calendar on second reading.

Measure Creating Burdensome Process for Employees to Collect Unpaid Wages Clears House
CS/CS/CS/HB 1125 (Goodson)
was passed by the full House (71-45). The bill, which pre-empts wage theft laws to the state, requires that claims be filed in the county court system while prohibiting recovery of attorney fees. An exemption is provided for existing wage theft ordinances in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Companion CS/SB 1216 (Bradley) would have to be withdrawn from committee in order for it to be heard on the Senate floor. The bill is considered dead for the session, unless the Senate changes their current rule on bill withdrawal.

Senate Passes “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense Independent Living Act”

After adoption of an amendment by Senate President Don Gaetz naming the act for Senator Nancy Detert, the Senate unanimously passed SB 1036 (Children, Families, and Elder Affairs). Prior to passage, the board was opened to allow co-sponsors, of which 38 were recorded. The bill allows foster children to remain in the foster care program up to the age of 21 and provides for a transition plan to self-sufficiency. Currently, there are 5000 children from 13 to 17 years old in the foster care system. CS/CS/HB 1315 (Perry) was temporarily postponed by the House, which will receive the Senate bill in messages.

Measure Providing Aid to Homeless Will Go to Governor
In place of CS/SB 402 (Joyner), the Senate substituted CS/HB 93 (Reed), which cleared the House earlier this month (113-1), and passed the bill unanimously. The measure, supported by the FCCB, requires the motor vehicle registration and driver license application forms to include an option to make a voluntary contribution to aid the homeless and establishes a homelessness prevention grant program.

Margarita Romo Recognized by Florida Legislature
SB 1870 (Simpson)
, a resolution recognizing the life work of Margarita Romo and celebrating her induction into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame, was adopted by the Senate on Wednesday. Ms. Romo previously served as a member of the Florida Catholic Conference Committee on Farmworker Justice and is the founder and executive director of Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc., an organization that facilitates the self-development of farmworkers and other underprivileged persons through education, advocacy and assistance programs. Click here to read the resolution.

HEALTH CARE

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved CS/CS/SB 1816 (Appropriations). This plan provides insurance to one million low-income Floridians. The committee also passed (12-6) CS/CS/SB 1844 (Health Policy), which aims to provide some health benefits for about 100,000 people with incomes at or below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Both bills are on the Senate Special Order Calendar for Monday, April 29.

On Thursday, Rep. Mike Fasano offered a strike-all amendment to CS/HB 7169 (Select Committee on PPACA) with provisions that closely resemble those in CS/CS/SB 1816 (Appropriations). After nearly five hours of debate, the amendment failed (45-74) and on Friday the bill passed the full House (71-45). The measure aims to cover 115,000 persons by providing health care subsidies of $2,000 to low-income parents.

A key difference between CS/CS/SB 1816 and CS/HB 7169 that   gave rise to the amendment, is the Senate plan provides a coverage option for   single adults with incomes to 100% FPL, while the House plan does not. The   House plan also uses state funds to provide the subsidies, which while   helpful still require monthly premiums from purchasers and do not cover the   full range of required benefits.

EDUCATION

Provision in Bill Overhauling Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) of Concern to FCCB
The full House took up and passed (89-26CS/HB 1279 (Metz). The bill includes a provision greatly reducing nonpublic school representation on the FHSAA board by leaving the nonpublic sector with just one designated member. For many years, nonpublic schools have had four elected members on the 16-member board of FHSAA. The original legislative intent when the board was structured some years ago was for the nonpublic schools to have a fair level of representation. At present, nonpublic schools account for 200 member schools among the approximately 800 schools in the FHSAA. CS/SB 1164 (Stargel) was passed by Senate Education (5-2) on Monday and has a final committee of reference, Rules.

Streamline of Agency Oversight for VPK and School Readiness Passes
CS/HB 7165 (Education) was passed by the House (114-0) Wednesday. The bill streamlines the State agency administrative roles for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education and School Readiness Programs from three down to two. The newly formed Office of Early Learning would administer the two programs at the state level as part of the Florida Department of Education. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) would maintain its role in overseeing some aspects of VPK and School Readiness such as requirements for training and credentialing of personnel. On Tuesday, companion CS/CS/CS/SB 1722 (Legg) was passed by Appropriations (16-0) and has been placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar for April 29, 2013, if received.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Measure Addressing Clawback of Charitable Contributions Receives Final Passage
CS/HB 95 (Holder), which was unanimously passed by the House last month, was taken up by the Senate in place of CS/SB 102 (Detert) and passed (35-2). The measure, supported by the FCCB, provides that a charitable contribution received in good faith by a qualified religious or other non-profit organization is not vulnerable under certain conditions to so-called “clawback” actions requiring the charity to refund the donation if it is found later that the donor was a perpetrator of fraud.

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

CS/CS/CS/SB 500 (Clemens) – Massage Practice – Favorable by Appropriations (16-0)
CS/SB 370 (Sachs) – Disposition of Human Remains – Favorable by Appropriations (16-0)

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.

Placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar for April 29, 2013
CS/SB 370 (Sachs) – Disposition of Human Remains
CS/CS/CS/SB 500 (Clemens) – Massage Practices
CS/SB 1350 (Bradley) – Juvenile Criminal Penalties
CS/CS/SB 1636 (Flores) – Infants Born Alive
CS/CS/CS/SB 1722 (Legg) – Early Learning
CS/CS/SB 1816 (Appropriations) – Health Care – If Received
CS/CS/SB 1844 (Health Policy) – Health Choice Plus Program 

Prior Summaries
Session Summary: Week 1
Session Summary: Week 2
Session Summary: Week 3
Session Summary: Week 4
Session Summary: Week 5
Session Summary: Week 6
Session Summary: Week 7