Florida Family Policy Council’s Legislative Insider’s Report: Legislative Session Week 7 of Week 9
The 2023 Legislative Session Week 7 is finished, and the end of the session is in sight!
The major highlight of this week was on Wednesday when the House passed three critical bills protecting children and Floridians in the state of Florida.
First, the Safety in Private Spaces Act was presented by freshman Rep. Rachel Plakon, (wife of former veteran House member Scott Plakon). It was clear that a star was born when she gave a powerful defense for the bill, which dictates that private spaces such as restrooms, lockers, showers, and certain sleeping quarters, among other categories, are to be kept separated by biological sex for the purposes of public safety and privacy. Two GOP reps, Reps. Paula Stark and Cindy Stevenson joined the Democrats to oppose the bill. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.
Just in the last several years, once in a McDonald’s on vacation in Jacksonville Beach and then in Winter Park at a Cheesecake Factory, my grade school daughters found an adult man in the girl’s bathroom and then ran out to tell us. The managers in both stores did nothing when the incidents were reported. This stuff makes my blood boil, but this bill brings an end to this nonsense. WE WILL FIGHT TO PROTECT CHILDREN till our last dying breath! Be sure of it.
Second, Rep. Randy Fine argued for SB 1438, a bill that prohibits private businesses from allowing children to have access to adult entertainment venues, including sexually explicit drag shows, and blocks local governments from allowing such performances on government property where children would be present. The bill passed the House, 82-32, on a party-line vote and now heads to the governor’s desk. Why LGBT activists want to expose children to sexually explicit trash in venues paid for with taxpayer dollars is beyond me. But this bill puts a halt to that abuse.
Finally, Reps. Randy Fine and Ralph Massullo presented SB 254, an act seeking to prevent anyone from subjecting minors to dangerous “sex change” hormone treatments or so-called gender reassignment surgeries. The bill was slightly amended and passed the House, 82-31, on a party-line vote. It returns to the Senate for a final vote on the amended version.
Below are the top bills that Florida Family Policy Council is tracking this session, along with the latest action on each. With the name and number of the bill is also a summary of each and links to each bill’s text. You can always keep track of all of our priority bills on our website, which will be updated as new priorities arise.
Our opponents (pro-abortion rights and pro-LGBT activists) continue to show up in mass protesting in rage and anger, lining the walls and halls of the legislature, trying to intimidate us and obstruct the process. These are some of the people Jesus calls “enemies” and teaches us to love and pray for. And we will pray for them and continue to try and be charitable. We will be people of goodwill even in the face of great opposition. But let that not be mistaken for a lack of will.
For real-time updates by our Legislative and Policy Director Aaron DiPietro, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or sign up for text alerts here.
Thank you again for your support,
SUPPORT 1. HB 7/SB 300 Heartbeat Protection Act (Rep. Persons-Mulicka/Sen. Grall)
Description: The proposal protects the unborn after 6 weeks, the time period at which a heartbeat can be detected, the strongest protections for the unborn in Florida post-Roe. Secondly, the legislation also prohibits state funding to be used for transporting mothers out of state to receive abortions. Thirdly, the bill prohibits the mailing of chemical abortion prescriptions and that a doctor must be present in person to prescribe such medications and to perform surgical abortions, cutting off the ability of clinics to use non-medical staff to conduct abortions or use telehealth to prescribe those abortion drugs. Finally, the bill expands support for the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, providing needed resources for mothers in unexpectant pregnancies.
Action: SB 300 passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis!
SUPPORT 2. HB 899/SB 870 Baby Box Act (Rep. Canady/Sen. Burton)
Description: This bill seeks to expand the locations to first responder facilities and other locations where baby boxes can be installed and monitored. This allows for new mothers to give up their newborn babies and to surrender parental rights to enable the child to be adopted.
Action: HB 899 previously passed the House floor, 111-0, and has been sent to the Senate. SB 870 is waiting for its final stop in the Rules Committee.
SUPPORT 1. HB 1403/SB 1580 Medical Conscience Protection Act (Rep. Rudman/ Sen. Trumbull)
Description: The bill would protect the rights of medical doctors, nurses, or other providers, as well as religious medical facilities, to practice their conscience convictions in their healthcare practices. Specifically, no medical professional or entity could be forced to recommend, participate in, and provide nonemergency medical procedures and actions that would violate their sincerely held convictions and beliefs. For example, no doctor would be forced to perform an abortion, and no nurse would be compelled to participate in a “sex-reassignment” surgery, among other actions that could violate their rights of conscience.
This proposal also provides protections to health care professionals from being penalized, reprimanded, or deprived of their licenses for exercising their freedom of speech by private medical certification boards.
Action: HB 1403 has passed all committee stops and has been scheduled to go before the full House for a final vote next week. On Wednesday, SB 1580 passed Rules Committee, 14-5, and now heads to the full Senate for a final vote there.
SUPPORT 1. HB 1421/SB 254 Gender Interventions on Minors Act (Rep. Fine/Sen. Yarborough)
Description: The bill seeks to bans anyone from subjecting minors to dangerous “sex change” hormone treatments or so-called gender reassignment surgeries. It also establishes provisions for affected minors to have opportunities to seek damages from the individuals and entities that subjected them to the harmful treatments in the first place.
Action: SB 254 passed the full Senate by a vote of 27-12, with Sen. Gayle Harrell being the only no vote in the GOP caucus. On Wednesday, the House also passed SB 254, with amendments, 82-31, on a party line vote. The amended version heads back to the Senate for a final vote there.
SUPPORT 2. HB 1423/SB 1438 Protecting Children from Adult Entertainment Act (Rep. Fine/Sen. Yarborough)
Description: The bill establishes penalties for private businesses that allow children to have access to adult entertainment venues, including sexually explicit drag shows. Penalties range from serious fines for initial offences, to loss of business license for repeat offences.
Action: After SB 1438 passed the full Senate on a 28-12 party line vote, on Wednesday, it also passed the full House, 82-32, also on a party line vote, and now heads to the governor’s desk.
SUPPORT 3. HB 1521/SB 1674 Safety in Private Spaces Act (Rep. Plakon/Sen. Grall)
Description: The bill aims to codifying that certain private spaces such as restrooms, lockers, showers, and certain sleeping quarters, among other categories are to be kept separated by biological sex for the purposes of public safety and privacy. It also establishes penalties for both individuals and businesses that violate the provisions of the statute.
Action: SB 1674 passed the first stop and is waiting for the final committee stop. On Wednesday, HB 1521 passed the full House floor, 80-37 and has been sent to the Senate. Two GOP reps, Reps. Paula Stark and Cindy Stevenson, joined the Democrats to oppose the bill.
Description: This bill expands the Florida Education Scholarships to all students statewide, allowing the tax dollars to follow the child to the school of the parent’s choice, allowing parents to determine how their children are educated. This act will revolutionize school choice here in the state of Florida and allow parents, who would otherwise be forced to have their children in public schools, the freedom to choose other options. The bill exempts traditional home education from the bill’s oversight for those homeschoolers who decline to use the funds and establishes a separate category in state statute for those who choose to homeschool and receive the funds, under the category of personalized education plans.
Victory Alert: The governor has signed HB 1!
SUPPORT 2. HB 1223/HB 1069/SB 1320 Parental Rights in Education Act (Rep. Anderson/Rep. McClain/Sen. Yarborough)
Description: The proposal seeks to further build on Parent’s Rights in Education law by expanding the prohibition on classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to cover PreK-8th grades. The bill also seeks to protect students and school employees from being forced to use preferred pronouns when those pronouns do not correspond with biological sex realities. The bill also mandates any teaching in higher grades be tied to teaching biological sex as the basis of gender. It also eliminates the sex ed supplemental materials loophole which unintentionally allowed explicit material if the material was considered “supplemental”, ensuring that all materials in the classroom must meet the same standards. And finally, the proposal adds additional rights for parents to have access to materials in the classroom and rectify violations of the provision.
Action: HB 1069, (which also includes the language of HB 1223) passed the House and has been sent to the Senate. SB 1320 passed all committees and is awaiting a full Senate vote.
SUPPORT 3. HB 379/SB 52 Student Social Media and Devices Safety Act (Rep. Yeager/Sen. Burgess)
Description: This proposal seeks to protect young students in their usage of electronic devices while in public school. Public school servers must block access to certain inappropriate websites and block access to all social media platforms for students using those servers. In addition, strict standards on electronic device usage in the classrooms are required to be set and select educational staff are to undergo training on recognizing and addressing the dangers of social media.
Action: HB 379 passed the House floor, 110-0, and also passed the Senate floor, 39-0, with an amendment. The amended version was returned to the House for one additional final vote.
SUPPORT 1. HB 1013/SB 252 COVID Non-Discrimination Health Act (Rep. Griffitts/ Sen. Burton)
Description: The proposal prohibits business entities, governmental entities, and educational institutions from mandating masking, Covid testing, or Covid vaccination requirements upon their customers or employees, to ensure their rights of religious freedom, conscience, and medical choice are protected. The legislation also requires that hospitals allow their doctors to provide a variety of treatments to address Covid cases and prohibits the hospitals from penalizing the doctors in any way for doing so.
Action: On Thursday, SB 252 passed Fiscal Policy, 13-5, and now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote. HB 1013 passed is awaiting the final stop, the Commerce Committee.
SUPPORT 2. HB 367/SB 610 Registration of Residential Child-caring Agencies and Family Foster Homes (Rep. Plakon/ Sen. Yarborough)
Description: This bill repeals an outdated section of law that established a monopoly in the certification of group homes in the state of Florida. This bill simply allows competition for other groups to apply to the state to be certified to also license faith-based child care agencies.
Action: Both bills have been assigned to three committees each, with HB 367 previously passing its first committee. SB 610 is awaiting a hearing in the final stop.