Florida Family Policy Council’s Insider’s Report
Week One of Nine in the Florida Legislative Session
This week was the first week of Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session. We are excited to bring to you FFPC’s first Legislative Insider’s Report for this year. But before we do, we want to remind you of an exciting opportunity coming up in January—our 3rd Annual Pro-Family Lobbying Days at the Capitol and Legislative Prayer Breakfast, January 25-26.
Registration is only $50 for this life-changing event, and discounted to only $25 for full-time pastors or full-time ministry leaders. Register now HERE or contact our office at 407-251-5130 or by email at [email protected].
You will learn more about Florida’s legislative process; be briefed on important issues facing the Legislature in 2016; learn how you can best impact the process; meet like-minded pro-life, pro-family advocates from around the state; lobby your legislators; and be challenged and inspired hearing from Christian leaders and legislators at the legislative prayer breakfast.
Monday, January 25, will consist of a legislative briefing on bills facing the Legislature in 2016 and training on how to lobby your legislators, ending with an evening prayer service at the Capitol. Tuesday, January 26, will begin with the Legislative Prayer Breakfast, with key legislative speakers and ministry leaders from around the state. The day will end with personal legislative visits with legislators in your district. We encourage all pastors, leaders, students, homeschoolers, and college students to participate in this day of impact.
Franklin Graham Visits Florida Capitol
On the opening day of Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session, Franklin Graham and theDecision America Tour held a rally on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol, drawing thousands. Citing Nehemiah, Rev. Graham called for attendees to repent for the state of our nation and shared the gospel message.
He also shared how critical this election is for America, and how we as believers must actively engage, pray, and vote our principles. Tallahassee was the second stop on Franklin Graham’s Decision America Tour, scheduled to travel to all 50 states in 2016. Here are some photos from the event. PHOTOS
2016 Legislative Priorities: Good/Bad Bills
Below you will find a major summary of the good & bad bills we are tracking in 2016.
HB 1/SB 602 Requiring Abortionist Doctors to Have Hospital Admitting Privileges Rep. Hill (R)/Sen. Stargel (R)
This bill would require a physician performing or inducing an abortion to maintain hospital admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed, as a continuum of care plan in case of complications threatening the mother’s health. Effective: July 1, 2016.
HB 233 Abortion Clinics Rep. Trujillo (R)
Requires that abortion clinic facilities abide by the same safety and accessibility requirements as hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and mobile surgical facilities. Certain building code requirements would apply when constructing clinics. Effective: July 1, 2016.
HB 401 Protection of Religious Freedom Rep. Gonzalez (R)
This bill provides legal protections for health care facilities and providers; individuals; small businesses; religious institutions; businesses owned or operated by religious institutions; and private child-placing agencies; who, because of their sincerely-held religious beliefs, refuse to perform certain actions that would force them to violate these beliefs.
The actions protected by this bill are defined as actions that are contrary to religious or moral beliefs AND one of the following: administering, recommending, or delivering medical treatments or procedures; producing, creating, or delivering products or services; or performing, assisting, recommending, consenting to, or participating in placing children in homes. Effective: July 1, 2016.
HB 43/SB 110 Pastor Protection Act Rep. Plakon (R)/Sen. Bean (R)
Provides that churches or religious organizations, related organizations, or certain individuals may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for related purposes if such action would violate sincerely held religious belief; prohibits certain legal actions, penalties, or governmental sanctions against such individuals or entities. Effective: July 1, 2016.
This bill was passed out of the Civil Justice Subcommittee favorably during legislative committee weeks in October 2015, before the start of session. The bill is currently in the Judiciary Committee, but is not on the agenda yet.
SB 86/HB 527 Relating to Scrutinized Companies Sen. Negron (R)/ Rep. Workman (R)
Prohibits state and local government entities from investing in or awarding contracts to companies that boycott Israel. Exceptions provided
Requires the State Board of Administration (SBA) to create “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List” and update it quarterly. Companies listed would be notified and provided 90 days to clarify their position regarding Israel. Effective: Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
SB86 has passed all its assigned committees and has been placed on the Special Order calendar, which means it will soon be voted on by the full Senate.
HB 835/SB 1522 Relating to Education Rep. Eisenaugle (R)/Sen. Stargel (R)
Clarifies that homeschooling is not a school district program; requires testing to be available for homeschool students—not optional for district; expands access to special needs assistance for homeschool students; expands access for homeschool students to career/technical training course offerings of school district; school district to notify of dates/times/types of national/end year/certification/other assessments available to homeschool students; annual textbook reimbursement for homeschool students (small refund). In addition, the bill states a high school grade point average may not be required for home education students who meet the minimum score on a common placement test adopted by the State Board of Education which indicates that the student is ready for college-level coursework.
The bill prohibits a school district from further regulating, exercising control over, or requiring documentation from parents of home education program students beyond the requirements of this section unless the regulation, control, or documentation is necessary for participation in a school district program. Effective: July 1, 2016.
SB1522 was assigned to committees for debate this week.
HB 545/SB 784 Human Trafficking Rep. Spano (R)/Sen. Flores (R)
Increases the trafficking of any person (not just kids under 18) to be a first degree felony; even if victim is an unauthorized alien; including if they were transported from outside to within the state; adds noncommercial sexual offense against mentally disabled victims and child victims under 18 as a life felony—not just commercial crimes; healthcare practitioners and massage establishments in violation commit 3rd degree felony. Includes faith-based providers in optional education programs that judges can assign offenders to attend regarding sexual violence and prostitution.
Our team attended the House Justice Appropriation Subcommittee meeting where this bill was favorably passed out of committee unanimously.
HB 45/SB 120 Creating Special Rights for LGBT Citizens (Formally and deceptively named the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”) Rep. Raschein (R)/ Sen. Abruzzo (D)
Creates the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” which adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to Florida’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 as impermissible grounds for discrimination. This bill creates a new cause of action to sue employers and small businesses for discrimination by those in the LGBT community. Effective Date: July 1, 2016.
HB 137/SB 258 Banning Reparative Therapy Rep. Richardson (D)/Sen. Clemens (D)
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. Effective: July 1, 2016.
HB 4019/SB 512 Relating to Marriage/Issuance of Marriage Licenses to Persons of the Same Sex Rep. Williams (D)/Sen. Soto (D)
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. Effective July 1, 2016.
SB 1666/HB1275 Domestic Partnerships Sen. Sobel (D)
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. Effective: July 1, 2016.
“Florida Casino Gambling Expansion Act” aka Seminole Compact
The state’s renegotiated compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida will lead to the largest gambling expansion in state history, creating casinos to rival Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The Seminole Tribe casinos would be authorized to have the most slot machines in the world—“limited” to 6,000 machines at any one facility with an average of 3,500 machines across their seven facilities. The so-called “limit” on table games also rivals the Las Vegas Strip. The Tribe can have an average of 150 table games per facility with as many as 300 at any one facility. The compact would allow expansion of blackjack into the eight existing pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and allows other pari-mutuels around the state to offer “historic racing machines”, a new gambling game that plays the last eight seconds of a horse race after wagers are made. This compact also allows two new gambling facilities, one in Palm Beach County and another in Miami-Dade County that will have 750 slots and 750 video racing terminals.
This new compact was signed in December 2015 by Governor Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The compact will now come before the Legislature for approval. No bill is currently filed.
SB 1198 Creating a Department of Gaming Sen. Sachs (D)
This 184 page bill 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 5 gubernatorial appointees, un-elected by the people. These Gaming Commissioners would be appointed to 4-year terms for up to 2 terms. 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.
Creating a Gaming Commission to determine gambling decisions, takes these important decisions away from elected officials, who can be held accountable for their decisions. This would make it easier to expand gambling in the state. Effective Date: Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, this act shall take effect July 1, 2016.
HB 859/SB 1056 Sex Education in Public Schools Rep. Fullwood (D)/Sen. Bullard (D)
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. Effective Date: July 1, 2016.