Today is the final day of the 2021 Florida Legislative Session, and Florida Family Policy Council is pleased to report a number of important legislative “wins” this year! Usually, we are lucky to walk away with just one good bill each year. I have been observing Florida legislative sessions for almost 25 years and I cannot remember a year that we have had more great bills pass in the same year than what we have seen in 2021.
First, the passage of the Parents’ Bill of Rights marks a significant step towards returning control and oversight of children to parents. It has become all too common for parents to be left in the dark on issues arising at school that affect the health and well-being of their children.
The withholding of information related to education and mental and physical health of children by schools and school officials from parents violates a parent’s fundamental right to direct his child’s upbringing, education, and welfare.
The Parents’ Bill of Rights outlines the rights that parents have in relation to their child’s education and what happens to them at school. It directs schools to establish specific methods by which parents are to be informed of and to consent in writing to issues that would affect the education, health, or well-being of their child. The text of the final bill headed to the Governor’s desk can be found here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=70313
Safety of Religious Institutions, a bill that has failed in previous sessions – was also passed this year. Currently, people licensed to concealed carry are allowed to carry in churches and other religious institutions as long as those churches allow it. However, it remains a crime to carry on school property in Florida where many churches meet. Because many religious institutions rent, lease, or utilize school property, it is a crime for attendees of those churches to conceal carry in churches that meet in schools.
This bill amends the statute to permit concealed carry at churches that share a space with a school as long as the church or religious institution allows it. This provision will allow churches to be better protected from potential violence by active shooters. The text of the final bill headed to the Governor’s desk can be found here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=70355
The Women’s Sports Bill which bans men from participating in women’s sports narrowly passed the finish line this year when it was amended at the last minute onto a bill addressing Charter Schools (SB 1028). After a remarkable late-night debate in the Senate, the bill passed!
The “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” portion of the bill finds that the state has an interest in making sure sports contests are fair for women and that men (most of whom claim to be transgender) are not permitted to compete on a women’s athletic team. For purposes of enforcement, the standard for admission on the team as a woman requires that a person’s biological sex be confirmed by the sex listed on her birth certificate. This is a major victory and one which we were not sure would make it.
The debate by mostly Democrats in the Florida Senate at best was shamefully off-point and appealing to emotion. At worse it was just dishonest and ridiculous. It’s totally sad how these legislators just lap up whatever nonsense the far left comes up with and are willing to completely ignore objective reality, biology, common sense, and the collective wisdom of human history in order to appease the mob. The text of the final bill headed to the Governor’s desk which he said today publicly he would sign can be found here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=71209&SessionId=90
The Sex Education “Opt-In” Bill which, as originally written, required schools to let parents review sex education curriculum and then “opt-in” if they wanted the curriculum taught to their child was amended and passed as amended.
In its current form, the bill still requires parents to have access to review a school’s sex education curriculum, but instead of opting in, parents are required to send in a written request to have their children excluded from the education or class. This is still a major and meaningful reform. The text of the final bill headed to the Governor’s desk can be found here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=70863
Another good bill, Moment of Silence, which requires every public school to begin each day with a moment of silence passed and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. Under current law, a moment of “prayer or meditation” in public schools is merely optional. Making it mandatory will give students a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the school day and allow them an opportunity to start their day with prayer if they so choose.
It also affords parents the opportunity to talk with their children about the importance of starting the day focusing on the more important things in life – particularly for parents who are followers of Christ. The text of the final bill headed to the Governor’s desk can be found here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=70821
FFPC is pleased to report that all the bad bills we were watching this year failed to pass and were dead on arrival.
However, one exception is the Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) program was moved over into the budget and given some funding. It is speculated that LARCs can cause early abortions by preventing the implantation of an embryo in the uterus. There is debate on that issue among pro-life doctors, but the possibility exists. This is a very complex issue and even pro-life doctors come to different conclusions. The Florida Catholic Conference (FCC) is asking pro-life doctors to contact the Governor to perform a line-item veto of this funding: The FCC argues:
“Nexplanon is a HLARC that is implanted under the skin in the arm. Its prescribing information in the hyperlink also highlights in section 12.1 that the mechanism includes alterations in the endometrium. It does not address ovulation like the IUDs’ prescribing document (other than to say that ovulation is suppressed), but section 14.1 mentions that a small number of women became pregnant using that HLARC. However, here is a study on Norplant (which, while not available in the US, has a similar mechanism). The study found that sonographic and hormonal evidence of ovulation were observed in one third of Norplant users.”
Overall, FFPC is pleased with these 2021 Legislative accomplishments and would like to thank you all for your support and prayers.
Specific details of the bills highlighted above and other priority bills are listed below:
FINAL BILL ACTIONS:
VICTORY! Parental Bill of Rights, HB 241 by Grall and SB 582 by Rodrigues
This bill emphasizes the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children. This fundamental right includes the right of parents to be notified of anything affecting the health, well-being, and education of their child while the child is in the custody of the school district. This bill would establish a mechanism by which schools must notify parents of information related to the health and well-being of their children.
PASSED! On the way to the Governor’s Desk
VICTORY! Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity, SB 2012 by Stargel (Compare to Sex-Specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports, HB 1475 by Tuck) This bill would require that athletic teams sponsored by educational institutions be designated on the basis of a student’s biological sex. It would prohibit males from competing on female teams and females from competing on male teams. The bill specifies conditions under which a person who transitions from male to female is eligible to compete on the female team.
HB 1475 was amended onto SB 1028 and PASSED! It is headed to the Governor’s desk.
VICTORY! Safety of Religious Institutions, HB 259 by Byrd and SB 498 by Gruters This bill would allow people with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on the property of religious institutions like churches and synagogues. Such a measure would provide much-needed security and protection for church attendees.
PASSED! On its way to the Governor’s desk
VICTORY! Sex Education Opt-In Bill (Materials Harmful to Minors), SB 410 by Rodriguez (AM) and HB 545 by Chaney Among other provisions, this bill would require that schools notify parents and receive written permission from parents before being permitted to teach lessons/classes involving sex education. A school would be prohibited from exposing a student to sex education without the written permission from parents.
PASSED with the caveat that the bill was amended to require the school to notify parents of the sex education curriculum and their right to submit a written request for an exemption for their child. The “Opt-in” requirement was cut out of the bill. It is on the way to the Governor’s desk.
VICTORY! Moment of Silence in Public Schools, HB 529 by Fine and SB 282 by Baxley The bill directs the principal of each school to require first-period classroom teachers in all grades to set aside 1 to 2 minutes for a moment of silence. The bill prohibits a teacher from making suggestions about the nature of a student’s reflection during the moment of silence. Instead, teachers must encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children and to make suggestions to their children about how they should use this time.
PASSED! On the way to the Governor’s desk
BILL NOT HEARD AT ALL: BUT VERY IMPORTANT. TRY NEXT YEAR: The Vulnerable Child Protection Act (Youth Gender and Sexual Identity), HB 935 by Sabatini: This bill would prohibit a practitioner from performing any procedure on a minor for the purpose of changing the minor’s sex or affirming the minor’s perception of the minor’s sex if that is inconsistent with the minor’s actual sex. The bill also prohibits anyone who is not of the female sex from participating in sports teams designated for girls only. “Sex” in the bill is defined as “the biological state of being female or male based on sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles.”
Failed to make it through committees this year.
ALMOST MADE IT. NEXT YEAR TRY AGAIN. Baby Boxes (Surrendered Newborn Infants), SB 122 by Baxley and HB 133 by Beltran and Harding: The Legislature has made provisions related to the abandonment of newborn infants called “safe haven” laws, which allow parents to relinquish infants in designated safe places to prevent abandonment of infants in unsafe locations. This bill increases the age that an infant can be legally relinquished from seven days to thirty days. It also authorizes the placement of surrendered infants in safety devices located at hospitals, emergency medical services stations, or fire stations – if the facility is staffed 24 hours a day.
Did not pass this Session.
NEXT YEAR TRY AGAIN. Protection of a Pain-Capable Unborn Child from Abortion, HB 351 by Gregory and SB 744 by Rodriguez (AM): This bill would prohibit abortion at the point that a child can feel pain in the womb. The science is clear that by at least 20 weeks gestation an unborn child can feel pain. The state has an interest in preventing an unborn child from feeling the pain inflicted by abortion, and this bill prohibits abortions at or after 20 weeks gestation. Currently, Florida allows abortions to be performed up until viability, which is approximately 24 weeks post-fertilization.
Failed to make it through committees this year.
PASSED HOUSE NOT SENATE. TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR. Disability Abortion, HB 1221 by Grall and SB 1664 by Rodriguez (AM) This bill would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion on an unborn child if the reason for that abortion is that the child has been diagnosed with a physical or mental disability in utero.
Did not pass this Session.
SB 1986, Medical Rights of Conscience (Medical Ethics and Diversity Act) by Baxley This bill establishes a right for health care practitioners, institutions, and insurance to refuse to perform or pay for any health care service which they decide is objectionable to their conscience. Thus, if a physician or hospital refuses to perform abortions, for example, based on the fact that abortion violates the principles dictated by their conscience, they cannot be penalized or forced to perform the procedure. This bill has no House companion bill.
Did not pass this Session.
DEAD: Crimes Evidencing Prejudice, SB 194 by Berman and HB 43 by Geller This bill would expand the grounds for reclassification of crimes to include prejudice based on gender or gender identity.
DEAD: Prohibition on Conversion Therapy (Prohibited Counseling Services), HB 301 by Grieco and SB 690 by Polsky This bill would prohibit counselors from counseling minors who are struggling with sexual identity issues using any type of counseling or language that could be considered “conversion therapy”- or therapy meant to encourage adherence to the minor’s biological sex. This would infringe on the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children and the rights of counselors to practice according to their conscience.
DEAD: Marriages between Persons of the Same Sex, SB 558 by Polsky and HB 6017 by Rayner This bill would codify the removal of language in statute that marriage is between one man and one woman by interjecting language that marriage is also between persons of the same sex. Although, in practice, Florida must issue marriage licenses to persons of the same sex, this bill removes that prohibition from statutory language.
Hormonal Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) Program SB 1154 by Bean/HB 925 by Williams: This bill would establish a program for administering Long-acting reversible contraception to women through the health department. However, “LARC’s” can function as abortifacients.
This bill FAILED to pass, however, funding for the program has been put into a line item in the 2021-2022 budget.
Thank you again for your support of our work and for standing with us. If you are able to support the unique and important with an online gift you can give here: https://www.flfamily.org/