Florida Family Policy
Session - Week 4 of 9
The Constitution Revision
Commission (CRC) conducting its first meeting in Orlando this week.
Photo is courtesty of the Orlando Sentinel.
delve into what happened in Tallahassee this week, we wanted to remind
you of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which held its first
public hearing this week. The CRC is convened every 20 years for the
purpose of reviewing the state constitution and proposing amendments
which are placed on the ballot in the next statewide election.
Despite the late notice of the meeting, the venue was packed,
and many progressive organizations were able to turn out their
supporters for the meeting. The
Gainesville Sun printed a recap of the meeting which you may
want to take a moment to read. Please make plans to attend
the CRC meeting in your area and bring ideas of what you want to see in
the Florida Constitution. Currently, the following meetings are
Miami-Dade County, Thursday, April 6 from 5-8
International University (FIU), Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St, Miami, FL
parking will be available)
Beach County / Boca Raton. Friday, April 7 from 9 a.m. –
Atlantic University (FAU), FAU Stadium Recruiting Room
(located indoors), 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL.
parking will be available)
website for the CRC is flcrc.gov.
If a meeting hasn't been announced in your area yet, please check out
the CRC website periodically and our Facebook
accounts for breaking news and information.
Now for what happened at the
Capitol Complex this week! We are almost halfway through
Legislative Session this year, and it ended up being a fairly busy week
for education bills, which is great news as legislators are looking to
give Florida's students as many educational options as possible.
Both the House
and the Senate
released their proposed budgets this week
and will begin to shift some of their focus to ironing out those
details. Some of the subcommittees had their final meetings
for the year, and so this is the point where bills begin to die if they
are not moving through the process. We are continuing to work
hard to see that good legislation is passed this year.
For a full list of bills that
Florida Family Action is
supporting or opposing this year, go check out
/ FOSTER CARE
363 / SB
200 Temporary Respite
Care for Families in Crisis
Sponsors: Rep. Frank White (R), Rep. Patricia Williams (D), Sen.
Kathleen Passidomo (R)
bill helps families in crisis by allowing parents to place their
children with respite care families temporarily while they work to
better the situation for the entire family (whether it is seeking
treatment for addiction, finding a job, etc.) This program is for
families where there are no allegations of abuse/neglect which would
cause DCF to remove the children from their home.
Senate bill will be heard by its first committee on Monday.
The full House will hear the bill on Tuesday with an expected
vote by the full House on Wednesday.
969 / SB
1130 Pregnancy Support Services
Sponsors: Rep. Jackie Toledo (R) and Sen. Aaron Bean (R)
Amber Kelly with Rep. Jackie Toledo
bill would require the Department of Health to contract with a network
of crisis pregnancy centers to provide support
services for women who suspect or know they are pregnant for the term
of their pregnancy through the first year of the child's life.
The services provided cannot be noncoercive nor
contain religious content.
the fact that Planned Parenthood sent some of its supporters to oppose
this bill, it cleared its final House committee on Thursday in an 11-5
vote. Opponents spoke against the bill, which in no way
mentions Planned Parenthood or limits a woman's right to an abortion,
on the basis that religious counseling may occur (which is prohibited
in the bill), staff credentials, and questions over whether audits of
the facilities were conducted (the contract with the Department of
Health requires them). What was clear is that Planned
Parenthood is only pro-choice if you make their choice - an abortion.
Crisis pregnancy centers offer support and valuable services,
not just when a woman is pregnant, but even after she has her baby (for
the first year of its life).
House version is scheduled to be heard by the full House next Tuesday.
The Senate bill is still in the committee process - the
second committee stop is the Appropriations Subcommittee on
Health and Human Services which is not scheduled to meet again until
week was very busy for education bills in both the House and the
Senate. Besides the bills listed below, committee bills were
rolled out in the House which would make significant changes to
education - namely one that would allow charter school organizations
with high success rates in poverty-stricken communities to build
schools near perpetually failing schools and one that would provide
funding for charter schools. Neither of these proposed bills were
without controversy. Opponents of both bills wanted to see additional
tax dollars given to traditional schools in hopes that they would
improve rather than allow charter schools to compete or receive funding
taxpayer dollars. While charter schools are public schools,
opponents saw them as competition rather than an additional tool in the
public school arsenal to help educate Florida's youth.
Sponsors: Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R), Sen. Tom Lee (R)
bill seeks to ensure that school districts cannot interfere with a
family's decision to homeschool once they are provided proper notice
unless they receive corroborated outside evidence that the children are
not being educated properly.
House bill was very quickly passed out of its final committee on
Thursday morning in a unanimous vote by the Education Committee.
It is headed to the floor of the House, but the Senate
version has yet to pass its first committee. The Senate bill was heard
in a workshop this week but has not been scheduled for a vote next
week. If it is not heard the following week for a vote, it may be dead
for the year.
833 / SB
692 Revising Student Eligibility for Virtual School
Sponsors: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R), Sen. Dennis Baxley (R)
bill removes a requirement that 2nd through 5th graders be enrolled in
a public school in the year prior to enrolling in virtual school.
House bill passed favorably out of its second committee unanimously and
has one more stop before heading to the floor for a vote by the full
House. The Senate version was heard in an Education Committee
workshop on Monday but was not voted on. It will need to be
scheduled for a vote before it can move forward.
15 / SB
1314 Expanding the Florida
Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Sponsors: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R), Sen. Denise Grimsley (R)
bill expands the students who are eligible for the Florida Tax Credit
House bill passed out of its second committee this week in a 12-3 vote.
It has one more committee stop before heading to the floor
for a vote by the full House. The Senate version was heard in an
Education Committee workshop on Monday and has been scheduled for a
vote in that committee for next Monday. The Education Committee is the
first stop out of four total for the Senate bill so it must start
moving quickly if it is to pass this year.
549 / SB
906 Publication of State Assessment Tests for
Parental and Educational Review
Sponsors: Rep. Randy Fine (R), Sen. Greg
Steube (R), House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee
bill seeks to require the publication of certain state assessment tests
every three years. Currently, no one has access to the
questions on these exams, including the Department of Education nor any
government officials. Students are being told that they
cannot tell anyone the content of test questions, including their
Senate bill was heard in the Education Committee workshop this week but
has not been scheduled for a vote yet. The House PreK-12
Appropriations Subcommittee will hear the House version next Monday
morning for a vote before it heads to its final committee.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike La Rosa (R) and the Tourism & Gaming Control
bill will constrict or freeze gambling in Florida by requiring the
Governor to renegotiate the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe,
with terms for a 20-year contract.
bill passed out of its final committee on Thursday afternoon in a 19-11
vote along party lines. An amendment was filed to change a
provision which allowed charter schools to be funded through the
revenue-sharing agreement with the Seminole Tribe. The
amendment failed along party lines but was used by some members of the
Commerce Committee as an excuse as to why they were not supporting the
bill. Other detractors said the funding issue was not the
only problem they had with the bill. Florida Family Action supported
the bill in committee and called on the House to not back down from the
spirit of the bill when negotiating with the Senate on the state's
gambling issues. FFA continues
to believe the House bill is better policy and better for
Florida’s families, businesses, and our tourism brand than the massive
expansion of gambling that the Senate bill provides.
1383 / SB
852 Child Victims of
Sponsors: Rep. Jeanette Nuņez (R), Sen. Rene Garcia (R)
bill seeks to help children who have been the victims of sex
trafficking by requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF)
to maintain a database of services available for victims of commercial
sexual exploitation, increases the situations in which a
defendant’s confession may be used at trial, outlines procedures for
assisting victims, and requires officials to follow up with victims
within six months to evaluate services used and their effectiveness.
House bill was not heard this week, one of its originally assigned
committees of reference was removed. This is a good sign, as it
increases the chances that it will get to the floor for full House
consideration. There was no action on this bill in the Senate this week.
Kelly presenting Rep. Ross Spano (R) with the "Champion of the Family"
award in his office
1165 / SB
972 Florida Compensation Trust Fund for Survivors of Human
Rep. Ross Spano (R), House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee
bill allows victims of human trafficking to sue the individuals who
engaged in their trafficking.
House and Senate versions of the bill will be heard next Monday.
It will be the first time it is heard in the Senate.
303 / SB
436 Religious Liberty
in Public Schools or “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious
Sponsors: Rep. Kim Daniels (D), Rep. Patricia Williams (D), Sen. Dennis
This bill codifies the current state of
religious liberty in public schools. It prohibits
a school district from discriminating against students, parents, or
school personnel on the basis of religious viewpoints or expression and
clarifies that a school cannot penalize or reward a student’s religious
expression in their coursework, artwork, or other specified
assignments. It provides equal access to all religions and
non-religions before, during, and after school.
bill was placed on the calendar for the 2nd reading in the House on
Tuesday, with expected passage on Wednesday. There are some differences
between the House and Senate versions, so it remains to be seen whether
the House will adopt the Senate version as-is or amend it to be
identical to the House version and send it back.
281 / SB
574 Opposing United
Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334
Sponsors: Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D), Sen.
Kevin Rader (D)
Resolution pronounces that the Legislature opposes and requests the
repeal or fundamental alteration of UN Resolution 2334, which stated
that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a flagrant violation of
international law, has no legal validity and is a major obstacle to the
vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
It calls on the US to ensure that the UN Resolution
is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel and authorizes
all final-status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved
through direct, bilateral negotiations between the parties involved.
Tuesday, the House adopted this resolution, and the Senate passed out
of its final committee in a 9-1 vote. It is scheduled to be
heard by the full Senate next Tuesday.
623 / SB
Special Rights for LGBT Citizens or “Florida’s Competitive Workforce
Sponsors: Rep. Ben Diamond (D), Rep. Rene Plasencia (R), Sen. Jeff
CWA adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to
Florida’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 as impermissible grounds for
discrimination. This bill provides a new way for LGBT individuals to
sue employers and small businesses for discrimination and would allow
men access to use women’s showers, locker rooms, bathrooms, women's
domestic violence shelters, etc.
bill which we have described as the worst bill proposed in the Florida
Legislature due to its effect on public safety and religious liberty
has not been scheduled to be heard in committee. We continue
to educate legislators on the dangers of this piece of legislation, and
it continues to be dead on arrival despite some liberal Republican
Sponsor: Sen. Bill Galvano (R)
The massive gambling expansion bill was
heard in 2nd reading on Wednesday and then passed by the full Senate on
Thursday in a 32-6 vote.
On the floor on Wednesday, additional amendments were added
to the bill which were specific carve outs for various gambling
interests. The bill sponsor, Sen. Galvano, stated that
passing the bill was merely getting the Senate in posture for
negotiations with the House. We are sure that gambling interests
throughout the state (with the exception of the Seminole Tribe) are
over the moon with this bill because it expands gambling in every arena
possible. The Senate sponsor may believe that this will improve the
Senate's position at the negotiating table with the House - which seeks
to restrict gaming in the state for the next 20 years. Sen. Galvano did
concede on the Senate floor that a compromise between the House and the
Senate may not be possible this year.
the bill was met with
little discussion or resistance on the floor, and after Thursday's
vote, the bill was immediately certified and sent to the House for
would like to recognize and thank those senators who voted against this
harmful measure: Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), Sen.
Aaron Bean (R), Sen. Denise Grimsley
(R), Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D), Sen.
Kelli Stargel (R), Sen. Victor Torres
(D), and Sen. Tom Lee (R) (whose vote was
recorded after the official vote).
bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for the full House
to hear next Tuesday along with HB 7037 which is the House's gaming
81 / SB
Liquor in Grocery Stores
Sponsors: Rep. Bryan Avila (R), Sen. Anitere Flores (R)
"Whiskey and Wheaties," this bill would allow
grocery stores and large retail stores to sell hard liquor in their
main store rather than building or renting a separate store to sell
In a bit
of intrigue this week, this bill was pulled from the Special Order
Calendar on Wednesday during the floor session of the House.
The differences between the House and Senate versions of the
bill seemed to have caused some difficulties on the final passage.
A compromise may have been reached as the bill is back on the
House floor schedule for next Tuesday.