Florida Family Action is committed to strengthening marriage and family structures, protecting innocent human life and defending our religious liberties. One of the ways we influence culture in these areas is by engaging our elected officials in Tallahassee. The 2017 Florida Legislative session will convene for 60 days, beginning Tuesday, March 7, 2016 through Friday, May 5, 2016.
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Florida Family Policy Council’s Final Insider’s Report of Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session
MAJOR STORY: Florida Family Policy Council Plays Key Role in Guiding the Florida Legislature Through Passage of Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood and any Other Abortion Provider From Use of State Tax Dollars.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. We have reached the end of Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session! After 9 weeks of session, at 6:45 pm on Friday, the House and Senate jointly adjourned Sine Die (which means “without day”) signifying the official end of Legislative Session. Our own Amber Kelly worked as our chief lobbyist during this session and actively coordinated with our President John Stemberger during this time. Amber has prepared a brief 40 second wrap up and thank you video right after the session ended in front of the House Chambers. Just click on the image above to watch the video.
VICTORY REPORT PART 1
GOOD Bills Passed by the Legislature
1. Abortion Clinic Regulations/Public Funding Prohibition
STATUS: Passed House 76-40, Senate 25-15. Now awaiting Governor Scott’s Signature.
HB 1411 by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland)
The Florida Legislature passed HB 1411, cutting state taxpayer funding to all abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood. These funds can now be redirected to hundreds of deserving low-cost community health clinics and women’s health centers in Florida that provide a comprehensive range of health services. This bill specifically prohibits Florida’s managed care providers and local governments from entering into contracts with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In addition to the funding restriction, the bill also increases and improves inspections of abortion clinics, brings abortion clinic regulations into conformity with other ambulatory surgical centers, and ensures there will be no misuse of fetal remains. State Senator Kelli Stargel is one of the many heros who led the charge on this effort in the legislature and deserves all of our thanks and support. Stargel is seen in the middle of this photograph above with Amber Kelly on the left and Courtney Hosek on the right. Special thanks also goes to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for their invaluable research, legal advice and guidance through the process.
The Governor has until March 26th to sign or veto the bill. Our sources tell us that the Governor will sign this bill despite of his previous refusal to take this same action as Governor independently. Just to make sure, please call and email Governor Scott’s office and tell him to “Sign HB 1411 into law.” That contact information for the Governor can be found here:
2. Support for Israel
STATUS: Passed Senate 38-0, House 112-2. Signed into law by Governor Scott.
SB 86 by Senate President-Designate Negron (R-Stuart) and Rep. Workman (R-Melbourne), Rep. Rader (D-Delray Beach), Rep. Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs)
Prohibits state and local government entities from investing in or awarding contracts to companies that boycott Israel.
3. Increased Human Trafficking Penalties
STATUS: Passed House 117-0, Passed Senate 39-0. Signed into law by Governor Scott.
HB 545 by Rep. Spano (R-Brandon) and Sen. Flores (R-Miami)
Increases penalties for traffickers and massage establishments who perpetuate/facilitate such activities, and clarifies victims under 18 should not be convicted for prostitution charges.
4. Pastors Protection Act
STATUS: Passed House 82-37, Passed Senate 23-15. Signed into law by Governor Scott.
HB 43 by Rep. Plakon (R-Longwood), Rep. Cortes (R-Maitland) and Sen. Bean (R-Jacksonville)
The bill, as written was designed to simply be an additional layer of protection, or a shield, for pastors to ensure the free exercise of their religion. FFA did not officially take a public stance on the bill because it was an unnecessary bill at this point in time. The bill became a major talking point for LGBT rights groups who were trying to further limit religious freedom in the state.
VICTORY REPORT PART 2
BAD Bills That Were Killed and Did Not Pass
1. “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”
STATUS: Voted on in first Senate Committee, died on 5-5 tie vote; Never heard in the House.
SB 120/HB 45 by Sen. Abruzzo (D-Wellington) and Rep. Raschein (R-Key Largo)
The bill would add new and subjective categories of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as protected classes to Florida’s Civil Rights Act of 1992. This action would place sexual orientation, gender identity or expression on the same level as and provide the same penalties for discrimination as race, religion, age, handicap, etc.
2. Seminole Gaming Compact
STATUS: Passed first Senate Committee, never heard in 2nd; Passed all committees in the House.
SB 7074/HB 7111 by Senate Regulated Industries and House Regulatory Affairs
This bill would have authorized the Seminole Gaming Compact agreed to by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Governor Scott in December 2015. The Compact would expand gaming in the state, authorize increases in slot machines and table games, blackjack authorized for Miami-Dade & Broward Counties pari-mutuels, video racing terminals and slots authorized for 2 new gambling facilities; and expand historic racing to all pari-mutuels.
3. Remove Live Racing Requirement at Parimutuels/Add Slot Machines
STATUS: Introduced by Senate Regulated Industries; Agenda item in 1st committee but was postponed and never heard
SB 7072 by Senate Regulated Industries
This bill relates to pari-mutuel facilities and would heavily expand gambling in the state. It does this by removing the requirement that pari-mutuel facilities have live races in order to offer other forms of gambling, such as slot machines.
4. Relating to Parimutuels
STATUS: Introduced by Finance & Tax and Regulatory Affairs; Passed all committees in the House.
HB 7109 by Finance & Tax Committee and Regulatory Affairs Committee and Rep. J. Diaz (R-Miami)
Provides for amendment to & ratification of Gaming Compact between Seminole Tribe & State of Florida; revises provisions for pari-mutuel wagering permitholders, pari-mutuel operating licenses, cardroom & slot machine operations licenses, transfer or assignment of pari-mutuel permit, relocation of permits, tax on handle & other taxes, live racing requirements, purse requirements, adoption of & injury to greyhounds, intertrack wagering & simulcast signals, limited intertrack wagering licenses; provides for thoroughbred purse supplement program, fantasy sports contests, multijurisdictional simulcasting & interactive wagering totalisator hubs, additional slot machine license, house-banked blackjack table games, designated player poker games, new facility guarantee fee; prohibits new pari-mutuel permits, relocation of facilities, conversion of pari-mutuel permits; directs division to revoke certain pari-mutuel permits.
5. Creating a Department of Gaming
STATUS: Never heard by Senate; no House equivalent.
SB 1198 by Sen. Sachs (D-Delray Beach)
Creates a new state agency, the Department of Gaming, consolidating all legal gambling oversight into one agency—rather than 3. This Department, would be led by a Gaming Commission of five gubernatorial appointees, unelected by the people. This bill would give the Department of Gaming the full authority and power to make, adopt, amend, or repeal rules relating to gaming operations and regulate authorized gaming activities in the state, including rules that specify the types of games that are authorized, the times during which such games are authorized, and the places at which such games are authorized.
6. Conversion Therapy Ban
STATUS: Never heard in committee.
HB 137/SB 258 by. Rep. Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Sen. Clemens (D-Lake Worth)
Prohibits persons licensed to provide professional counseling & various practitioners who perform counseling as part of their professional training from engaging in conversion therapy with person who is younger than 18.
Sen. Clemens attempted to add this conversion therapy ban on to the Senate version of the Pastors Protection Act. The amendment was never heard because the Senate picked up the House version of the bill when discussed by the full Senate.
7. Alters the Definition of Marriage in State Statute
STATUS: Never heard in committee.
HB 4019/SB 512 by Rep. Williams (D-Tallahassee) and Sen. Soto (D-Kissimmee)
Deletes requirement that a marriage license only be issued to one male and one female; deletes a provision specifying that the term “marriage” in statute or rule means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and that the term “spouse” applies only to a member of such a union.
8. Domestic Partnerships
STATUS: Never heard in committee. No House companion.
SB 1666 by Sen. Sobel (D-Hollywood)
Requiring the clerk of the circuit court to collect a filing fee for domestic partner registrations; including a domestic partner as a legally authorized person who may object to the use of unclaimed remains of a deceased person for medical education or research; adding “domestic partner” to the definition of the term “patient representative” as it relates to the Florida Electronic Health Records Exchange Act; requiring assisted living facilities to allow domestic partners to share a room, etc.
9. Expands Scope of Sex Education in Public Schools
STATUS: Never heard in committee.
HB 859/SB 1056 by Rep. Fullwood (D-Jacksonville) and Sen. Bullard (D-Culter Bay)
Removes abstinence only education from public schools (FL Statute 1003.46) and requires a broader teaching of sex ed, to include applicable to all genders and sexual orientation. Included in the bill is the option for a parent to exempt their child from this instruction and an option to review the instructional materials upon request. This bill would require school districts (not an option) to give wide array of sexual education–with the understanding that adolescents will be sexually active/normalizing it, rather than dissuading this activity. This would also give parents the right to petition if the school district or school did not comply with the requirements of this bill.
STATUS: Passed first committee in House, not heard in 2nd; never heard in Senate.
HB 1151/SB 1542 by Rep. Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Sen. Soto (D-Kissimmee)
The bill sought to remove all references to gender in referencing a child’s parents, including on a child’s birth certificate, which FFA opposed. Rep. Richardson later amended the bill, which then allowed parents to choose whether they want the birth certificate to read mother, father, or parent on the appropriate lines.
11. Lottery Sales Available at Gas Pumps
STATUS: The Senate bill passed through all of its committees, but was never heard by the full Senate; the House bill passed its first committee, but not heard in 2nd.
SB 402/HB 415 by Sen. Richter (R-Naples) and Rep. Raschein (R-Key Largo)
This bill would authorize the Department of Lottery to allow the sale of lottery tickets at gas pumps.