Legislative Agenda

Florida Family Action, the legislative arm of the Florida Family Policy Council, is committed to protecting and defending life, marriage, family and religious liberty. One of the ways we influence culture in these areas is by engaging our elected officials in Tallahassee. Florida Family Action will engage the Legislature on both good bills and bad bills as it relates to our core values.

The 2018 Florida Legislative Session convened for 62 days, beginning Tuesday, January 9th and ended Sunday, March 11th.

We have worked hard to make sure that your voice is heard at the Capitol.  Below you will find a list of final bill actions on legislation that we either supported or opposed this session. 

Thank you for your continued support this session as we worked in Tallahassee to advocate for pro-family values!

Sincerely,

John Stemberger
President and General Counsel
Florida Family Policy Council

 

2018 FINAL BILL ACTIONS

Click here to download a PDF summary of the 2018 Legislative Victory Report.
Read below for the full report!

ADOPTION/FOSTER CARE
VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 357 / SB 576 Adoptee Birth Certificates 

Sponsors: Rep. Richard Stark (D), Sen. Dennis Baxley (R)

Status: Never heard in committee.

This bill mandates opening up birth records to birth parents and adult adoptees (even without the consent of the birth parents in adoptions after July 1, 2018) by requiring the Florida Department of Health to issue noncertified copies of unaltered, original birth certificates to adoptees and birth parents.

 

 

ABORTION
DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 1429 / SB 1890 Dismemberment Abortion

Sponsors: Rep. Erin Grall (R), Rep. Joe Gruters (R), Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R)

Status: Passed by House 72-42. Never heard in the Senate. 

Prohibits dismemberment abortion, where an unborn child is killed by an abortionist using instruments to cut or rip the child’s body apart piece by piece and then extracts the pieces from the mother.

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 1273SB 1718 Contraception Mandate
 
Sponsors: Rep. Holly Raschein (R), Sen. Lauren Book (D)

Status: Never heard in committee.  

Mandates employers provide insurance plans which pay for contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs. The exemption for employers is limited to religious objections by religious nonprofits or small, privately-held companies and it requires notification of objection to providing coverage. Insurance companies are still required to provide coverage of contraception to employees who work for an exempt organization.

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 189 / SB 320 Abortion Clinics
 
Sponsors: Rep. Amy Mercado (D), Sen. Linda Stewart (D)

Status: Never heard in committee.

This bill prohibits anyone from interfering with women attempting to enter abortion clinics. Sidewalk counselors or protesters could face fines, civil suits, and criminal penalties for simply calling out to a woman to not abort her baby. This bill goes beyond prohibiting criminal and inappropriate interference with abortion facilities and limits free speech. 

 

 

CULTURE
VICTORY – PASSED HR 157 / SR 480 Declaring Pornography a Public Health Risk 

Sponsors: Rep. Ross Spano (R), Sen. Kelli Stargel (R)

Status: Adopted by the House. Never heard in the Senate, but as it is a resolution it did not need to pass both chambers. 

Recognizes the public health risk created by pornography and acknowledges the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change to protect Floridians.

 

VICTORY – PASSED HB 839 / SB 1158 Display of State Motto in Public Schools
 
Sponsors: Rep. Daniels (D), Rep. Ponder (R), Sen. Perry (R)

Status: Passed by House 97-10. Never heard in the Senate. The language of the bill was added to HB 7055, an education omnibus bill, which was passed by the House 74-39 and the Senate 20-17. Signed by the Governor into law.

Requires each Florida school and each school district building to prominently display the state motto “In God We Trust.”

 

EDUCATION
VICTORY – PASSED HB 731 / SB 732 Home Education 

Sponsors: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R), Sen. Dennis Baxley (R)

Status: Passed by the House 113-0. Passed by the Senate 37-0. Signed by the Governor into law.

Clarifies that a home education program is not a school district program and parents who wish to homeschool their children must register with the district school superintendent only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements. It requires the district school superintendent to accept the parental notification and register the program upon receipt of the notice. The school district cannot require any additional information unless the student chooses to participate in their programs or services. The bill also stipulates that the content of a child’s portfolio shall be determined by the parent, not the school district. Finally, it allows school districts to provide homeschool students access to career and vocational courses and requires that industry certifications, national assessments, and statewide, standardized assessments offered by the school district be available to homeschool students. For homeschool students who are dual enrolled to earn college credit, the bill stipulates that course or program limitations may not exceed the limitations for other dually enrolled students.

 

VICTORY – PASSED HB 1 / SB 1172 Hope Scholarship Program
 
Sponsors: Rep. Byron Donalds (R), Sen. Bill Galvano (R)

Status: Passed the House 71-41, but only passed two out of three assigned Senate Committees. However, the Hope Scholarship program is part of a larger omnibus education bill (HB 7055) which was passed by the House 74-39 and the Senate 20-17. Signed by the Governor into law. 

Establishes the Hope Scholarship for students after an incident of battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, robbery, sexual offenses, harassment, assault, threat or intimidation. The student will have an opportunity to transfer to another public school or to apply for a scholarship to attend a private school. Scholarship funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

 

 

FREE SPEECH
VICTORY – PASSED HB 909 / SB 1234 Free Speech Zones on Campus

Sponsors: Rep. Rommel (R), Rep. Clemons (R), Sen. Baxley (R)

Status: The Senate version passed one out of two assigned committees, while the House version was ready for a vote by the floor until its language was added to SB 4, a higher education omnibus bill. SB 4 passed the Senate 33-5 and the House 84-28. Signed by the Governor into law. 

Protects the right of free speech outdoors on public campuses of higher education such as state colleges, universities, law schools, etc. Prohibits a public college, university, law school, etc. from creating “free speech zones” or restricting free expression except in cases that are reasonable and content-neutral. No student, faculty or staff member would be allowed to materially disrupt another individual or organization’s scheduled or reserved activities. If a violation occurs, the Attorney General or the person whose rights were violated may take the violator to court within one year of the violation for reasonable compensation. 

 

GAMBLING
VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 223 / SB 374 Fantasy Contests 

Sponsors: Rep. Jason Brodeur (R), Sen. Dana Young (R)

Status: Passed one out of three House committees and all of its Senate committees. The language was added to the Senate’s main gambling bill (HB 840) and the House’s gambling bill (HB 7067). While both HB 840 and HB 7067 passed their respective chambers, substantial differences between the bills remained. A joint conference committee to negotiate a compromise was convened, but after multiple offers were made, the committee was dissolved because it was clear that they would not be able to come to an agreement.  

Exempts fantasy gaming contests such as fantasy sports leagues from being subject to gambling penalties and regulations. In effect, legalizing fantasy gambling.

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED SB 840 Legalizing Fantasy and Designated Player Games/Expanding Slot Machines
 
Sponsor: Sen. Travis Hutson (R)

Status: The Senate amended the language from SB 840 onto the House gaming bill HB 7067, but the House refused to accept the Senate’s changes. A joint conference committee to negotiate a compromise was convened, but after multiple offers were made, the committee was dissolved because it was clear that they would not be able to come to an agreement. The Voter Control of Gambling Amendment (Amendment 3) will be on November’s ballot, which would require voter approval of any expansion of gambling. Polling shows that it is likely this amendment will pass, meaning that the issue of gambling will not be as big of an issue for the legislature in upcoming years. 

In addition to exempting fantasy gaming from state gambling regulations, this bill would remove the requirement that greyhound, thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness horse permit holders conduct live racing at their pari-mutuel facilities in order to be eligible for or keep their slot machine and cardroom licenses. This bill would allow these facilities to take wagers for intertrack races and simulcasts. It would also legalize designated player games (playing against a designated player rather than the house). 

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 1293 / SB 1802 Preview Games and Machines
 
Sponsor: Rep. Al Jacquet (D), Sen. Perry Thurston Jr. (D)

Status: Not heard in committee. However, language allowing preview games and machines was added to the Senate’s gaming bill SB 840. The House refused to accept the Senate’s language when amended onto their gambling bill (HB 7067). A joint conference committee to negotiate a compromise was convened, but after multiple offers were made, the committee was dissolved because it was clear that they would not be able to come to an agreement.  

Legalizes preview or pre-reveal machines, slot machines which draw individuals in by revealing the prize before the game is started. A Florida judge has already ruled the machines constitute gambling. 

 

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING
DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 167 / SB 1044 Civil Action for Human Trafficking Victims

Sponsors: Rep. Ross Spano (R), Sen. Lauren Book (D)

Status: Passed all of its committees in the House and one of two committees in the Senate. 

Allows a victim of human trafficking to bring a civil cause of action against a human trafficker or facilitator (a person or business who aids in or turns a blind eye to human trafficking activities). Under this provision, a victim of human trafficking could receive payment for medical bills, mental health services, repatriation, etc. as well as monetary damages for pain, loss, trauma, etc. A trafficker or facilitator would also be liable under this section to provide an additional $100,000 in damages to the Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking (established by HB 169/SB 1046) and, in some cases, additional damages to law enforcement to aid in future human trafficking rescue efforts. Punitive damages would be equally divided between the victim and the trust fund.

 

DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 169 / SB 1046 Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking
 
Sponsors: Rep. Ross Spano (R), Sen. Lauren Book (D)

Status: The House version passed all of its committees. The Senate version passed 38-0. 

Creates the Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking and Prevention within the Department of Law Enforcement.  This fund would be funded by penalties and damages obtained under as referenced in HB 167 / SB 1044 and other sources, including funds appropriated by the Legislature. The trust fund would be used to assist victims of human trafficking with medical and mental health exams and treatment, living expenses, lost wages and repatriation. The funds could also be used for a variety of education and prevention efforts, creating a survivor’s resource center, or for vacating convictions against trafficking victims incurred due to trafficking, etc.

 

DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 7039 / SB 1502 Increased Penalties for Human Trafficking
 
Sponsors: House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Rep. Ross Spano (R), Sen. Lauren Book (D)

Status: Passed by the House 111-0. Senate bill never heard in committee.

Requires a 10-year minimum mandatory imprisonment sentence for any individual, who knowingly or recklessly without regards to the facts, engages in, attempts to engage in, or financially benefits from human trafficking. Removes fees to expunge certain portions of criminal records for victims of human trafficking as it relates to their trafficking. Redefines the term “Adult Entertainment Establishment” to include additional adult-style businesses.

 

 

LIFE
VICTORY – PASSED HB 41 / SB 444 Pregnancy Support Services

Sponsors: Rep. Jackie Toledo (R), Sen. Aaron Bean (R)

Status: Passed the House 73-29 and Senate 21-12. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. Signed by the Governor into law. 

Requires the Florida Department of Health to contract with the Florida Pregnancy Care Network (FPCN) to provide pregnancy support services for women who suspect or know they are pregnant. FPCN would then provide support to pregnant women and address their wellness needs. The bill requires FPCN subcontractors to promote and support childbirth only. All services provided must be voluntary and cannot include religious content.

 

 

LGBT
VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 347 / SB 66 Creating Special Rights for LGBT Citizens or “Florida’s Competitive Workforce Act”

Sponsors: Rep. Ben Diamond (D), Rep. Rene Plasencia (R), Sen. Darryl Rouson (D)

Status:  Never heard in committee.

The worst bill in the Florida Legislature because it violates the dignity and privacy of women and children and Floridians’ First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association. It 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.  Would allow men access to use women’s showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

A full list of House and Senate co-sponsors.

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 717 / SB 696 Banning Conversion Therapy
 
Sponsors: Rep. Evan Jenne (D) / Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D)

Status:  Never heard in committee.

This bill makes it unlawful for people in Florida who are licensed to provide professional counseling and others, like pastors who are licensed counselors, to counsel youth under the age of 18 struggling with their “sexual orientation and/or gender identity” to think and live in a heterosexual manner consistent with their biological gender, even if the child (as the patient) asks for their help to do so. 

 

 

MARRIAGE
DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 1323 / SB 1580 Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage  

Sponsors: Rep. Clay Yarborough (R), Rep. Danny Burgess (R), Sen. Kelli Stargel (R)

Status: Passed by two out of three committees in the House and one out of three in the Senate. 

Creates the Marriage Education Committee, which is tasked with developing the Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage, which is required to include resources on conflict management, communication skills, family expectations, financial responsibilities and management, domestic violence, and parenting responsibilities; current information from marriage education and family advocates to assist in forming and maintaining a long-term marital relationship; and information regarding premarital education, marriage enrichment education, and resources that are available to help restore a marriage that is potentially moving toward dissolution. Clerks will be responsible for posting the guide on their websites and individuals applying for a marriage certificate must certify that they have read it or similar resources.

 

VICTORY – DEFEATED HB 130 / SB 6027 Same-Sex Marriage
 
Sponsors: Rep. David Richardson (D), Sen. Gary Farmer (D)

Status:  Never heard in committee.

Removes the language in state statute which prohibited same-sex couples from marrying and the State of Florida from recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

 

 

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
DISAPPOINTMENT – DID NOT PASS HB 871 / SB 1290 Free Enterprise Protection Act 

Sponsors: Rep. Jay Fant (R), Sen. Dennis Baxley (R)

Status: Never heard in committee.

Prohibits any level of state government or individual acting on behalf of the state from discriminating against a business based upon their internal personnel or employee benefits policies or their exercise of free speech and religion as protected under the Florida and federal Constitutions. The state and its subdivisions would be prohibited from revoking tax exemptions and benefits; denying grants, certifications, licenses, etc.; and access and entitlement to property, facilities and speech forums, among other provisions.

The Senate bill was heard by the Senate Education Committee Tuesday. The bill was amended in committee by the sponsor Sen. Baxley (R-Lady Lake) to clarify liability language for public institutions and add increased accountability for student governments in charge of funding student campus organizations.

The bill was highly contested in committee, with some Senators even questioning the need for this legislation. The bill sponsor reminded the committee that restricting free speech to certain areas or groups on public campuses as some Florida universities (and many others around the country) are practicing is setting a dangerous precedent. Not only do these actions silence or alienate those with differing views leading to complete intolerance, but it also violates the First Amendment. 

One senator brought up the inflammatory example of the KKK as a reason to have waiting periods or restrictions on speech on college campuses. However, as one speaker pointed out, as much as this form of speech is not welcome by society, placing restrictions on any group and not on other groups is an unequal application of rules and is effectively content based discrimination. After further discussion, the bill was passed on party lines 7-4. The bill has one more committee, Judiciary, before it heads to the Senate floor.