Florida Family Policy Council
Week 3 of 9 – January 28, 2022
The third week of the nine-week session is complete as we come to the end of January. With Pro-Life, Pro-Family Days occurring Monday and Tuesday, this was our most action-packed week with advocating for our bills and training allies on priority legislation. And legislative activity this week took the term “explosive” to a whole new level—complete chaos broke out in the committee during the hearing on the major pro-life bill. Read more on this and watch a video clip below.
This week saw over 150 pro-life, pro-family supporters gather in Tallahassee to be inspired, informed, and empowered to engage the Florida legislature; the theme was #LifeWins. FFPC Legislative DirectorAaron DiPietro and Communications Director Melissa Woodford, along with Florida Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Bill Bunkley, trained attendees on priority legislation, lobbying tactics, and updates on the state of the legislature.
Monday evening, Reps. Joe Harding and John Snyder shared their passion for engaging in the civic arena in Tallahassee, U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack shared her powerful pro-life testimony of how her mother chose life and her work to defend life in Washington, and former Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life leader Abby Johnson shared her story and strategies on how to win the pro-life battle in Florida and across America.
Tuesday morning, Abby Johnson and Congresswoman Cammack joined Rep. Dana Trabulsy and Gov. Ron DeSantis in addressing the group before everyone headed out to lobby their representatives on Capitol Hill. The group was addressed later at the Capitol by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and at the Supreme Court by Justice Carlos Muñiz.
Attendees were also able to rally tremendous support in the first House committee hearing for the Medical Rights of Conscience Act. Rep. John Snyder, the bill sponsor, did an extraordinary job defending the bill and the reality that no health care provider should be forced to violate their sacred oath “to do no harm” by violating their conscience. FFPC’s Aaron DiPietro and Melissa Woodford testified, sharing testimonies of doctors supporting the legislation.
Wednesday started off with fireworks as the House Judiciary Committee debated HB 7, called the Individual Freedom Act, or the proposed ban on Critical Race Theory in public schools. Debate heated up as emotions ran high, with Chair Erin Grall stepping in to restore calm in the fierce conflict. The bill passed soon after.
In the other body, the Senate Health Policy Committee was having its own intense discussions as the members conducted the confirmation hearing for Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo. Afterwards, it considered, debated, and passed the Free Speech for Medical Professionals Act, run by Senator Doug Broxson. FFPC’s Aaron DiPietro testified in support, maintaining that “freedom of speech is a constitutional right; medical providers are no exception….Diversity of thought and the free exchange of ideas is critical in preserving free speech and should absolutely apply to medical professionals.”
On Thursday, the heightened tensions erupted in the Health Appropriations Subcommittee during hearings over the pro-life, 15-week, late-term abortion ban that later passed. After leadership closed public comment due to time and debate constraints, pro-abortion advocates erupted in loud chants and protests (despite more than ample testimony from their side), forcing Capitol police to clear the entire chambers to restore order. Check out a video clip of this chaos here. FFPC’s Aaron DiPietro was present at the hearing. The Sergeant at Arms officers allowed some members of the public to reenter as the committee completed debate. Key highlights included debate from Reps. Dana Trabulsy and Michelle Salzman making the case to defend unborn babies through this law. The bill passed, in spite of the serious interruptions.
Below is an updated list of some of the top good and bad bills Florida Family Policy Council is tracking in this session, along with a summary of each and links to each bill’s text. You can always keep track of all of the good and bad bills on our website, which will be updated as new priorities arise.
This year, we’re being represented by our new Legislative Affairs Director Aaron DiPietro who is our eyes and ears on the ground for us in Tallahassee. We’re excited to have him on our team.
We will continue to provide updates weekly throughout session.
Now, for this week’s update on our core legislative agenda!
Description: The act, based in part on the Mississippi law recently heard by the Supreme Court in the Dobbs case set to potentially undermine and/or reverse Roe v. Wade, prohibits abortions after 15 weeks; if enacted, it would be the strongest protection for the unborn post-Roe. In addition, the bill mandates stricter reporting requirements on abortion clinics, providing needed data on chemical abortions in the state.
Status: HB 5 passed it second House committee stop, Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee, on Thursday 10-5; it now heads to its final committee stop, Health and Human Services. On the Senate side, SB 146 has two committees to pass.
Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Conscience
Description: The Religious Institutions Bill attempts to stop discriminatory government mandates against religious organizations in times of emergency. This issue came to the forefront during the COVID pandemic when governors from across the nation placed churches and houses of worship under unique restrictions than harsher than those of businesses and other organizations. (For example, in several states, governors allowed most businesses to operate at 50% occupancy, while only allowing 10 or 50 people in a church service, regardless of the size of the church, creating a double standard that discriminated against religious organizations.) Thankfully, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not pushed such policies, but future administrations could reverse course. This bill proactively protects religious institutions by requiring equal treatment under the law under during state emergencies.
Status: The House version (215) passed its second committee Wednesday 15-7; it now has 1 committee left; the Senate version passed the full Senate floor Thursday 31-3 and has been sent to the House. Florida Family Policy Council was instrumental in suggesting additional language to further strengthen equal protections under the law for religious institutions.
Description: This proposal provides protections to health care professionals from being penalized, reprimanded, or deprived of their licenses for exercising their freedom of speech on social media. In light of recent pro-life and pro-family censorship against pro-life and pro-family, it requires anyone who attempts to accuse a health care worker of saying something incorrect on social media to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If anyone falsely accuses a health care worker for saying something incorrect on social media, that person will face serious penalties.
Status: Wednesday, the Senate version passed its first committee, Health Policy, 6-3 and has two more committee stops; the House version has yet to be heard.
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 non-emergency 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 demanded to participate in a “sex-reassignment” surgery, among other actions that could violate their rights of conscience.
Status: The bill passed its first committee, Professions and Healthcare, Tuesday 12-6; it now moves on to its second of three committee stops.
Education/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Description: This proposal would ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Florida public schools and provide standards for enforcement and guidelines for education policy. It also would prohibit corporations doing business in Florida from mandating CRT training for their employees.
Status: SB 148 is in Rules committee as the final Senate stop. The House version (HB 7) passed its first of 3 committees, Judiciary, 14-7; it now goes to State Affairs.
Education and Parental Rights
Description: This bill aims to crack down on graphic and sexually explicit Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) material in Florida public schools. It requires schools to receive written parental consent before a child is allowed to participate in any reproductive health classes; allows parents and citizens procedures to review such materials and call for their removal; and overall, increase transparency and public oversight over sex education.
Status: No movement yet.
Description: This proposal seeks to further build on the education provisions of the state’s Parent’s Bill of Rights by allowing greater parental access to school information on their minor children; forbidding school districts from withholding information on children from their parents; prohibiting school districts from encouraging discussions of sexuality and gender identity for younger students; and laying out ground rules for how school districts are to respect parental rights.
Status: HB 1557 has passed its first committee 15-5 and now heads to its final House stop, Judiciary. No movement has occurred on the Senate side yet.
Other Related Issues
Description: The ordinance intends to establish a Gambling Prevention Commission to study gaming addictions and proving solutions on how to counteract the problem.
Status: No movement yet.
Description: The joint resolution would seek to place an amendment on the ballot in 2022 to amend the constitution to allow for the recall of all local county and municipal elected officials. This provides an extra method of keeping locally elected officials accountable for their actions and policy decisions.
Status: The House version passed its first committee, Local Administration and Veterans Affairs, 14-0; the Senate version has not moved yet.