Florida Family Policy
Session - Weeks 5 and 6 (of 9 weeks)
We hope this email finds you and your family
well and that you had a blessed celebration of the resurrection of our
Lord Jesus Christ this past weekend.
We are sorry that we missed sending you week
5 of our Insider’s Report, but we’ve included it in this week’s
report. The Legislature slowed down a bit in Week 6 because
of Passover and Good Friday, but for the days that the Legislature was
in session this week, each chamber began passing their version of the
budget and most of the normal committee meetings were canceled.
Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) met in Tallahassee this past
week and several local residents made statements at the public hearing
held at Florida A&M University. At every city the CRC has held
a public hearing in thus far, many citizen's have testified and
expressed concerned about Article 1, Section 23, Florida's Privacy
Clause which was enacted in 1980 by a vote of 60% of voters to protect
citizens from the government collecting private information.
But nine years after it was passed in 1989, the Florida
Supreme Court ignored the legislative intent and history of the
amendment and suddenly found a fundamental right to abortion for a
minor child in the clause in case of In Re: T.W. A Minor, 551 So. 2d
1186 (1989). There has been a strong show of support of
pro-lifers and constitutionalists asking the CRC to fix the privacy
clause. Planned Parenthood supporters are also appearing asking the CRC
to protect Florida's very strong right to abortion. Interestingly, none
of the mainstream media covering the hearings have reported this issue
accurately. We reported several weeks ago that our President,
John Stemberger was
appointed for the next year and a half to the CRC by Florida Speaker of
the House Richard Corcoran. The CRC only gathers every 20
years as per the Florida Constitution. For more information
on upcoming public hearings in Gainesville,
Jacksonville, Panama City and Tampa
check out the official website at FloridaCRC.gov.
Rep. David Richardson on the House
Credit: Scott Keeler, TB Times
During Week 5, there was a move by Rep. David
Richardson (D) to add non-discrimination language for
sexual orientation and gender identity to a bill regulating ridesharing
companies (i.e. Uber, Lyft). Rep. Richardson who is one of
two openly gay-identified legislators in Florida, filed two separate
amendments to the bill. The first stated that these services
are public accommodations and adding the non-discrimination language to
the law governing public accommodations (adding some of the most
controversial parts of the Competitive Workforce Act to statute). This
amendment failed in a voice vote. Rep. Richardson then moved to the
next proposed amendment which would require each company’s
non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender
identity. This also failed in a voice vote, but Democrats then forced a
roll call vote (meaning we know how each member voted). We
expect to see more of these types of moves in the future and will be on
the lookout for them.
The biggest news out of Week 6 in the
Legislature was in the House during Floor Debate on a controversial
bill which allocates $200 million to “Schools of Hope”.
Schools of Hope are charter schools which are established within 5
miles of perpetually failing schools; however, the organizations
establishing these schools must have a proven track record of success
within impoverished communities. Prior to the debate, Rep. Shevrin
Jones (D) held a press conference with Tallahassee mayor
and extreme left wing Democrat, gubernatorial candidate Andrew
Gillum opposing the bill. All told, the House
spent over five hours debating the measure this week before passing it
77-40 along party lines. The Senate then picked up the bill
but refused to pass the House language meaning it will be sent to
Now for the action report from Amber
Kelly, our Communications and Political Director, on the
bills that we're most closely monitoring...
ADOPTION / FOSTER
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 version was heard in its first committee during Week 5.
Despite the 5-0 vote in favor of the bill, senators expressed
concern about some of the provisions of the bill. Some of the senators'
concerns were based on a misunderstanding of the situations in which
the program operates. Specifically, some senators were concerned that
the program is for families dealing with troubled youth, which is not
the case. The Family Law section of the Florida Bar opposes
the bill; it appears their opposition is solely because
they believe lawyers need to be involved in the process and a
foster-care lite system should be implemented. Florida Family Action is
continuing to support the bill and encourage senators to support this
highly successful, worthwhile program. The Senate Judiciary
committee will be hearing the bill next Wednesday.
full House heard this bill in second reading on Tuesday and passed it
in a 96-16 vote on Wednesday. The nay votes primarily centered around
concerns over notifying a non-custodial parent that the custodial
parent was going to enter into a respite care agreement. Rep.
Lori Berman (D) proposed two amendments to require notification prior
to an agreement, which does not always work in crisis situations
requiring immediate care or changing the notification period from five
days to two. Both amendments failed.
969 / SB
1130 Pregnancy Support Services
Sponsors: Rep. Jackie Toledo (R) and Sen. Aaron Bean (R)
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
full House heard this bill in second reading during Week 5 and passed
it in a 79-38 vote, but not before House Democrats spent both days
grilling bill sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo (R). Claiming that
they were concerned with center standards and rising costs, Democrats
opposed this bill. Perhaps the most shocking statements were made
regarding ensuring that women had access to abortions and their
opposition to providers who were pro-life. If you have a few
extra moments, be
sure to thank Rep. Toledo for her sponsorship of this bill
and standing strong during the hours she was questioned on the House
Senate version of this bill is scheduled to be heard in its second
committee stop (of three) next Tuesday. While time is running short,
this bill can still pass this legislative session.
Kelly presenting Sen. Tom Lee (R)
the "Champion of the Family" award
1391 / SB
1556 Clarifying Homeschool Requirements
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 during week 5 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. FFA requested that the committee chair schedule
the bill for a vote, but it has not yet been granted.
833 / SB
692 Revising Student Eligibility for Virtual
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 final committee unanimously and
is now on 2nd reading in the House. It
has not yet been put on the Special Order calendar to be
Senate version was heard in an Education Committee workshop but has not
yet been voted on to pass it to the next committee. A similar
868, which includes provisions regarding open enrollment and
Florida Virtual School is scheduled to be heard next Tuesday in its
second (of three) committee.
Amber Kelly with Rep. Jennifer
15 / SB
1314 Expanding the Florida Tax Credit
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 final committee and is scheduled to be
heard in the full House next Tuesday. During its final committee stop,
the bill was amended to once again include an expansion of the Gardiner
Scholarship Program (which had been removed during its first committee
stop due to funding concerns).
Senate version was scheduled to be heard by the Education Committee
wasn’t during week 5. It is once again scheduled for
consideration 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
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
House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee passed its version of the
bill unanimously, but it has not yet been scheduled to be heard in
Education (the final stop). The Senate bill still has not
been scheduled for a vote in its first committee (although it has been
Mike LaRosa (R) closing on HB 7037
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 was scheduled to be heard by the full House during week 5. Upon
the introduction of the bill, the House picked up the Senate gambling
bill (SB 8) and amended it to conform it to HB 7037. During
both the 2nd and 3rd reading,
while some members chose to participate in questions and debate, it was
largely understood that a conference committee would be convened to
negotiate the vast differences between the chambers’ bills.
The bill was passed 73-40, along party lines. The Senate
refused to concur and a conference committee has been announced with
the following members: Sen. Galvano (Alternating Chair - R), Rep. J
Felix Diaz (Alternating Chair -R), Sen. Benacquisto (R), Sen. Braynon
(D), Sen. Flores (R), Rep. Geller (D), Sen. Hutson (R), Rep. La Rosa
(R), Rep. Metz (R), Rep. Moskowitz (D), Rep. Nunez (R).and Sen.
Thurston (D). It remains to be seen whether the House and
Senate will be able to come to terms regarding gaming this
year. FFA continues to encourage the House to stay strong on
its bill to restrict the expansion of gaming long-term.
937 / SB
1370 Warnings for Lottery Games
Sponsors: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R), Sen. Keith Perry (R), House
Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee
bill would require a warning placed on lottery tickets that lottery
games can be addictive.
bill was heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee (first of
three committees) and passed 7-3. Sen. Gibson (D) opposed the bill
because she does not believe the lottery is gambling. There was no
action on the House version of the bill.
1383 / SB
852 Child Victims of
Sponsors: Rep. Jeanette Nuņez (R), Sen. Rene Garcia (R)
This 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.
The House bill passed out of its final
committee unanimously and is on 2nd reading for
consideration by the full House. The Senate version was
passed out of its final committee, was placed on the Special Order
calendar, and is scheduled for 3rd reading and
final vote next Tuesday.
1165 / SB
972 Florida Compensation Trust Fund for Survivors of
Sponsor: Rep. Ross Spano (R), House Civil Justice and Claims
This bill allows victims of human
trafficking to sue the individuals who engaged in their trafficking.
The House version has passed out of its
final committee and will be placed on the 2nd reading
calendar next week. The Senate version had been scheduled to
be heard in its first committee during week 5, but was
postponed. The bill is scheduled to be heard in its first
committee next week and will also be heard in its second committee
(Judiciary) if the first committee passes it favorably. We
thank Sen. Greg Steube (R), who chairs Senate Judiciary, for placing it
on his agenda this week.
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.
This bill was placed on the Special Order
Calendar in week 5. Once the bill was read, the Senate version was
picked up and amended to conform to the House version of the
bill. With very little fanfare, the bill was passed 114-3 and
sent back to the Senate to either concur or refuse (sending it to
conference). It remains to be seen what will happen with the bill,
although Senate President Negron opened session stating that this bill
was a priority for him.
281 / SB
574 Opposing United
Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334
Sponsors: Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D), Sen. Kevin Rader (D)
This 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.
The Senate adopted the Resolution by voice
vote during week 5.
623 / SB
666 Creating Special
Rights for LGBT Citizens or “Florida’s Competitive Workforce
Sponsors: Rep. Ben Diamond (D), Rep. Rene Plasencia (R), Sen. Jeff
The 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.
This 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 support.
8 Gaming Expansion
Sponsor: Sen. Bill Galvano (R)
This bill was amended by the House to
conform to its good gambling bill. The Senate refused to concur and the
two chambers will convene in conference to iron out their differences.
The following legislators were named to the conference committee:
Sen. Galvano (Alternating Chair - R), Rep. J Felix Diaz
(Alternating Chair -R), Sen. Benacquisto (R), Sen. Braynon (D), Sen.
Flores (R), Rep. Geller (D), Sen. Hutson (R), Rep. La Rosa (R), Rep.
Metz (R), Rep. Moskowitz (D), Rep. Nunez (R).and Sen. Thurston
(D). It remains to be seen whether the House and Senate will
be able to come to terms regarding gaming this year. FFA
continues to encourage the House to stay strong in its resolve to
restrict the expansion of gaming long-term.
149 / SB
592 Fantasy Gaming
Sponsors: Rep. Jason Brodeur (R), Sen. Dana Young (R)
The bill effectively legalizes fantasy
sports contests in Florida and states that it is not gambling.
This bill unanimously passed the House Ways
& Means Committee (second of three committees) during Week 5.
This bill has met with no resistance in the House to date. While the
Senate companion has not moved, the larger Senate gaming bill (SB 8)
does address fantasy gaming. If the two chambers are able to
come to an agreement on a gambling bill, we wonder if this might be
part of the package.
Amber Kelly with Rep. Scott Plakon (R)
81 / SB
Liquor in Grocery Stores
Sponsors: Rep. Bryan Avila (R), Sen. Anitere Flores (R)
Dubbed "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 liquor.
This bill was placed on the Special Order
Calendar for the 2nd time and then
postponed once again while the House was in session. Rep.
Scott Plakon (R) proposed two amendments to the bill which opponents
say are meant to kill the bill. One of the measures would require all
store employees in a retail store selling hard liquor to be at least 21
years of age. Rep. Plakon believes this is good public policy
and expands the choices that retailers currently have; it allows them
to sell alcohol in their main store but ensures that those who are
underage won’t be responsible for liquor sales.
With two postponements and the fact that it
hasn’t been scheduled for the third time, we believe this bill is dead
for the year.