Florida Family Policy Council
Week 4 of 9 – February 4, 2022
The fourth week of session is finished. Though somewhat more tame than last week with its explosive outbreaks, week 4 was no less action- packed. Week 4 marked a critical juncture in the 2022 session. It separated the bills already moving and advancing through committees—many of which are well on their way to being made law—from those bills not moving at all. In short, bills not seeing any action by this week (and next week at the absolute latest), are most likely dead for this session.
Tuesday, HB 7, called the Individual Freedom Act, which restricts CRT in public schools, among other places, was heard in the State Affairs committee. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bryan Avila, once again presented it. Members in opposition to the bill maintained the bill limited the ability to teach true history, while supporters asserted that the bill was in fact designed to encourage the teaching of history, free of political ideology. FFPC Legislative Director Aaron DiPietro spoke out in favor of the bill, again encouraging the members to draw the line between teaching historical facts on the one hand and teaching concepts of systemic racism, white guilt, and “intersectionality” on the other, concepts which are ideological frameworks, not historical facts. The hearing, though impassioned, was distinctly less combative than the prior committee hearing, and the bill passed the committee.
Also on Tuesday, Rep. Nick DiCeglie gave testimony in House Judiciary in the final committee for HB 215, the Religious Institutions Act, raising the legal protections for churches and ensuring equal treatment under public emergencies under the legal standard of strict scrutiny. FFPC’s Aaron DiPietro spoke in favor of the bill, highlighting the bill as not giving government a blank check to restrict religious institutions in public emergencies, but instead placing strong limitations on state action by raising the standards of protections.
Finally, on Wednesday, Sen. Kelli Stargel, sponsor of the pro-life, 15-week, late-term abortion ban (SB 146), answered questions about her bill, making the case to defend the lives of the unborn. There was a strong turnout in support of the bill, greatly dwarfing the opponents’ numbers. I was there in person to testify and Legislative Affairs Director Aaron DiPietro also testified in support of the bill. I focused on the late-term abortion problem that would be addressed by this law, while Aaron focused on the dangers to mothers receiving those abortions. Aaron also spoke in a separate speaking slot against the attempt to allow abortion exceptions in the cases of rape and incest, arguing that while such actions were evil and deserved to be punished, the innocent child should never receive the death penalty for the crime of the father. You can watch our testimony at the hearing HERE. Many on both sides testified, including pregnancy care center volunteers, post-abortive mothers, and Planned Parenthood abortion doctors. The bill passed, heading to one more stop on the Senate side.
Below is an updated list of some of the top bills Florida Family Policy Council is tracking in this session, along with a summary of each and links to each bill’s text. The list has been updated based on the bills that are moving this session. You can always keep track of our legislative agenda on our website, which will be updated in the BLOG as new priorities arise.
Also, below some of the bills is an ACTION ALERT in Red, signifying upcoming bills that will be heard this week, providing opportunities for supporters to attend and show support for those bills. Next week is shaping up to be an action-packed week for some of our top-priority bills!
Our legislative affairs director Aaron DiPietro is doing a great job as our primary eyes and ears on the ground for us in Tallahassee. We’re excited to have him on our team.
We will 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 is now awaiting a hearing in its final committee stop, Health and Human Services. On the Senate side, SB 146 passed its first committee, Health Policy, Wednesday 6-4 and heads to its final Senate committee, Appropriations.
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 final committee Tuesday 15-4; it now heads to the House floor; the Senate version passed the full Senate floor 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.
ACTION ALERT: The House version (215) has been placed on the Calendar for a full House vote. Once passed, the bill will head to Governor DeSantis’s desk.
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.
ACTION ALERT: SB 1184 will be heard in its second committee meeting, Judiciary, on Monday, February 7th (the committee meets from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm) in 412 K in the Knott Building.
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 stops. It is awaiting movement in the Senate.
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 last of 3 committee Senate stops. The House version (HB 7) passed its first two committees, Judiciary and most recently, State Affairs 16-8; it now is in its final committee, Education and Employment, before heading to the full House Floor.
ACTION ALERT: HB 7 will be heard in its final committee meeting, Education and Employment, on Tuesday, February 8th (the committee meets from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm) in 17 H in the House Office Building.
Education and Parental Rights
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.
ACTION ALERT: SB 1834, the Senate version will be heard in its first committee meeting, Education, on Tuesday, February 8th (the committee meets from 9 am to 11 pm) in 412 K in the Knott Building.
Other Related Issues
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.
ACTION ALERT: HJR 663 will be heard in its second House committee meeting, Public Integrity and Elections, on Monday, February 7th (the committee meets from 11 am to 1 pm) in 404 H in the House Office Building.