Victory Report: Week 9 of 9 of Legislative Session

Florida Family Policy Council 

Insider’s Report

Legislative Session


Week 9 of 9 – March 11, 2022

Dear Friend,

The final week of the Florida legislative session is finished for the year and what a year it was! The 2022 Florida Legislative Session was one of the most productive and victory-filled sessions in Florida Family Policy Council’s history.

Here is the final report on the 2022 session!

Monday afternoon, the Parental Rights in Education Act, (aka the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill ) (HB 1557) was heard on the full Senate floor. After nearly two hours of amendments filed by Democrat senators meant to undermine the bill, (all defeated by the other senators), bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley began his defense of a parent’s right to be informed and involved in their children’s education. Baxley tag-teamed with Sen. Manny Diaz and Sen. Danny Burgess to respond to the fiery questions and attacks on how the bill would be applied to education policy. The three senators did a powerful job countering objects and laying out the case for school districts to be transparent with parents. They stressed parental involvement when official policy changes occur in the treatment of children within those districts. They also mentioned the importance of establishing standards for official instruction on sexual issues with K-3 students.

Tuesday morning, the Senate again took up HB 1557 for final debate and a final vote. Opponents strongly criticized the bill as an attack on LGBT identifying youth, completely ignoring the actual text of the bill. Senators standing firm in debate for parental rights included Sens. Ileana Garcia, Danny Burgess, Ray Rodrigues, Manny Diaz, and Debbie Mayfield. Bill sponsor Dennis Baxley closed out the debate with a final call to empower parents by giving them the tools to protect and educate their children as they know best.

The bill passed in the Senate 22-17 with all of the Democrat Senators voted no in opposition to parental rights. Two Republican senators, Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Jeff Brandes, voted against the bill as well. During the process, both senators stated that their opposition to the bill was based on the negative public perception (founded on inaccurate media narratives). In summary, they opposed the bill based on what opponents perceived was in the bill, rather than voting based on what was clearly laid out in the bill text.

I personally did several media interviews on this bill and “flipped” the false “Don’t Say Gay” narrative by saying the bill should really be called a “Don’t turn my son into a daughter” bill.  This cut so deep to the heart of the debate two different pro-gay, pro-trans legislators referred to my argument on two separate occasions to criticize it.  You can see one of these TV interviews here: VIDEO: John Stemberger Talks about Disney’s CEO Condemning the Parental Rights in Education Bill.

LGBTQ activists did everything they could to try to stop this commonsense bill, but they all failed.  They staged massive protests at the capital.  They had a school “walk out” over the bill. They even ran TV ads across Florida asking people to call DISNEY WORLD because the Disney Corporation had not spoken out against the bill. See that ad here: VIDEO: Commercial Urging Disney to Oppose Parental Rights in Education Bill.

Disney finally responded by bowing down to the golden calf, saying they would recommit themselves to LGBTQ issues but ironically never actually came out against the bill.  

Finally, in responding to a snarky reporter, Governor DeSantis did a full-blown WWE “Dusty Rhodes” smack down when defending the parents rights bill.  The powerful clip went viral and exploded on social media.Check it out here: VIDEO: Gov. Ron DeSantis Lights Disney on Fire After Its Outrage Over Parental Rights Bill.

Wednesday afternoon, HB 7, the Individual Freedom Act, the bill restricting the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools and other places, was heard on the full Senate floor.  Sen. Manny Diaz, the bill sponsor, skillfully defended the bill for nearly four hours, deflecting attacks on the bill, answering opponents’ hypotheticals, and defending the principles within the bill, aided in great part by Sen. Danny Burgess.

The bill, up for debate the following morning, passed on a party line 24-15 vote. Opponents argued that the bill would forbid the teaching of key portions of American history on slavery, segregation, and other evils from American history, which was not true and blatantly in contradiction to the intent and text of the bill.

Highlights in support of the bill include Sen. Kelli Stargel, who asserted that historical revisionism showing only one side of history to push political agenda clouds the complete truth of history being shared. She shared the story of her grandfather, a former sheriff, who stood against lynch mobs to ensure that a young African American man received a fair trial, even though it cost him greatly politically. She affirmed that she and her family could be proud of her grandfather’s stand, contrary to politically driven false stereotypes painted by historical revisionists. With passion, she declared that attempting to make children today feel guilty and personally responsible for the sins of others in the past belonging to their ‘race’ was exactly the kind of harmful teaching the bill sought to prohibit.

Bill sponsor Sen. Manny Diaz gave a powerful close, sharing the story of his family fleeing from Cuba and its authoritarian government. As highlighted by Diaz, there was no free of thought or debate, and education was really government indoctrination telling students what to think, not how to think, a concern that seems to be creeping into America as well. America may have serious faults, Diaz acknowledged, but still is the greatest nation of opportunity and freedom in the world. The bill passed on a party line vote immediately after, 24-15.

Florida Family Policy Council would like to take this opportunity to strongly commend Florida Senate and House leadership for addressing some very challenging issues that had to be addressed, despite inaccurate media narratives and fierce opposition from leftist special interest groups. Because of the controversy surrounding these bills, serious time must be allotted for questions, amendments and debate that takes tremendous time from other agenda items – the legislature literally spent days if not weeks just to pass our five priority bills over the course of the session. This does not count the hours upon hours spent in committee.

By passing the priority bills listed below in this report below, Senate leadership under President Wilton Simpson and President Designate Kathleen Passidomo and House leadership under Speaker Chris Sprowls and Speaker Designate Paul Renner have established Florida as a nationwide leader on protecting unborn children, preserving religious freedom, and defending parental rights, among other victories! 

Below is a full list of the exciting wins from this session, with both the several good bills that were passed, and all the bad bills were defeated. We also included a brief overview of several good bills that didn’t make it this session, but that we made great progress on and hope to see introduced in future sessions.

Finally, Aaron DiPietro, our legislative director, did a remarkable job in his first year in Tallahassee.  He was a winsome and formable advocate for our causes, and because of this, he quickly won the respect of legislators, our allies, and legislative staff.  Aaron is quickly becoming a reliable authority in Tallahassee on all things related to life, family, and liberty issues.

Thank you for your financial support, engagement, and your prayers that enable our team to be the advocates for life, family, religious freedom, and liberty in Tallahassee. We could not be able to engage this intensely without your support!

Thank you all and God bless!


John Stemberger

2022 Session Victories!



HB 5/SB 146 Fetal and Infant Mortality Reduction Act (Rep. Grall/ Sen. Stargel)

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 the full House and Senate side and is awaiting the governor’s signature, which he has stated he will give!


HB 0215/SB 254 Religious Institutions Protection Act (Rep. DiCeglie/Sen. Brodeur)

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 passed SB 254, 88-29 and the Senate passed the bill 31-3. Florida Family Policy Council was instrumental in suggesting additional language to further strengthen equal protections under the law for religious institutions. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk!


HB 7/SB 148 CRT Ban in Public Schools and Corporations Act (Rep. Avila/Sen. Diaz)

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: HB 7 passed off the Senate floor 24-15 and passed the House 74-41. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk!


HB 1557/SB 1834 Parental Rights in Education Act (Rep. Harding/Sen. Baxley)

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 passed the full House floor 69-47, while the Senate passed HB 1557, 22-17 before the full floor. It now heads to Governor DeSantis, who has strongly voiced support for the bill and heavily criticized opponents for spreading false narratives about the bill. Florida Family Policy Council was strategically and deeply involved in advocating for 1557 on Capitol Hill through the entire process.


HB 1467/SB 1300 Education Act (Rep. Garrison/Sen. Gruters)

Description: This proposal adds term limits in state law for school board members for a max of 12 consecutive years (municipalities are allowed to enact tighter term limits). The bill streamlines the process for parents and concerned citizens to petition school districts on removing inappropriate materials from public school libraries. It also adds extra procedures for approving and reviewing materials that come into the library and extra reporting requirements to the state on materials removed by various schools across the state to increase transparency for school districts and accountability to parents and taxpayers.

Status:  HB 1557 passed the full House floor 79-41, while the Senate passed HB, 24-15 before the full floor. It now heads to Governor DeSantis!



HB 6023/SB 628 Abortion Clinic Regulations Act (Rep. Eskamani/Sen. Book)

Description: This pair of bills sought to reverse many key and recently passed protections for unborn children and their mothers: repealing the 24 hour waiting period law, which requires mothers preparing for an abortion to wait one day from their initial visit to an abortion clinic before having an abortion to have time to reflect and think over the decision; allowing state tax payer dollars to directly to abortions (it is currently not allowed); and removing safety protocols currently in place regarding abortion clinics.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 0205/SB 0374 Gay and Transgender Panic Legal Defenses Act (Rep. Smith (C)/Sen. Book)

Description: This act sought to add sexual orientation and gender identity as recognized categories in criminal defense law. Although there are some direct concerns about specific applications in real life, the main issue is the attempt of this bill to slide the subjective, undefinable, and legally fluid categories sexual orientation and gender identity into state law, despite being repeatedly rejected by the Florida legislature in other areas of law.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


 HB 0249/SB 0456 Driver License and Identification Card Gender Designation Act (Rep. Arrington/Sen. Torres, Jr.)

Description: The proposal sought to add the category of non-binary on ID and Driver’s License State-issued cards. This action would begin the dismantling of government recognition of the biological realities of male and female and set precedent for further undermining sex-specific areas of public law.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 0813/SB 1074 Sexually Transmissible Diseases Act (Rep. Robinson (F)/Sen. Pizzo)

Description: Currently, under state law, to knowingly donate blood, organs, or other bodily items that are contaminated by an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or to knowingly participated in intercourse while infected with an STD without informing the partner, is a felony. This proposal would have sought to lower that criminal action to a mere misdemeanor.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 6015/SB 0168 Marriages Between Persons of the Same Sex Act (Rep. Rayner/Sen. Polsky)

Description: This provision aimed to eliminate the language in state statute recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 6065/SB 0212 Unfairness in Women’s Sports Act (Rep. Arrington/Sen. Farmer, Jr.)

Description: This ordinance would have reversed current state law protecting women’s sports and force females to play women’s sports with biological males who subjectively identify as female.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 6077/SB 0810 Postsecondary Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act (Rep. Hinson/Sen. Polsky)

Description: The proposal would have removed free speech protections for college students, as well as the ability of students to film lectures or presentations in class. It also eliminated free speech reviews conducted to ensure state colleges and universities are promoting an environment protecting and encouraging the free exchange of ideas.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 0549/SB 1884 Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Act (Rep. Omphroy/ Sen. Powell)

Description: This proposed statute would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state of Florida.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.


HB 6003/SB 1854 Legal Rights of the Natural Environment Act (Rep. Eskamani/ Sen. Farmer)

Description: The proposal would have granted human rights-status to the natural environment.

Status: The bill was never heard and died in committee.



 HB 167 Private Action Heartbeat Act (Rep. Barnaby) – No Senate Companion

Description: This bill sought to restrict abortion after a human heartbeat is detected. However, unlike most pro-life proposals in which the state government enforces the law to protect the unborn, this proposal prohibits the state government from enforcing the law. Instead, the proposal allows private citizens the right to sue abortion clinics and doctors for damages on abortions done after a detectable heartbeat, with the intent to financially weaken abortion clinics. The bill did not have a Senate companion, though, and is dead for this session.

Status: The bill died in committee due to no Senate companion bill; the focus in the legislature was on HB 5, a separate pro-life bill that passed into law.


HB 0687/SB 1184 Free Speech of Health Care Practitioners Act (Rep. Drake/Sen. Broxson)

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 the censorship against pro-life and pro-family It also creates a high bar to penalize health care workers for their social media speech to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their speech caused direct harm to one of their direct patients, and further provides serious penalties for false accusations against health care workers for speaking out on social media free speech.

Status: The Senate version passed two committees, but unfortunately wasn’t heard in the final stop; the House version also passed one committee, but failed to be heard in the final committee. We look forward to working on this bill in a future session.


 HB 0747/SB 1820 Medical Conscience Protection Act (Rep. Snyder/ Sen. Baxley)

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 demanded to participate in a “sex-reassignment” surgery, among other actions that could violate their rights of conscience.

Status: The bill passed the first House committee, but unfortunately stalled due to lack of movement on the Senate. We strongly commended House sponsor Rep. John Snyder for his leadership and work on this crucial issue and look forward to working on this bill next session.


HB 211 Youth and Sexual Identity Act (Rep. Sabatini) – No Senate companion

Description: The bill sought to bans anyone from subjecting minors to “sex change” hormone treatments or so-called gender reassignment surgeries. The bill did not have a Senate companion, though, and is dead for this session.

Status: The bill is dead for the session due to having no Senate companion bill.


HB 0057/SB 0242 Racial and Sexual Discrimination Ban Act (Rep. Fine/Sen. Gruters)

Description: This bill would have prohibited state and municipalities from requiring Critical Race Theory (CRT) employee training. Specifically, “Race or sex scapegoating” based training would be banned; this “means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to a member of a race or sex because of his or her race or sex. The term included any claim that, consciously or subconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, a member of any race is inherently racist or is inherently inclined to oppress others, or that a member of a sex is inherently sexist or is inherently inclined to oppress others.”

Status: The bill failed to advance in either house as a similar piece of legislation, HB 7, was the priority focus of leadership. HB 7 passed both houses and is heading to the governor’s desk.


HB 1305/SB 1842 Sex Ed Materials Harmful to Minors Act (Rep. Borrero/Sen. Baxley)

Description: This bill aimed to crack down on graphic and sexually explicit Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) material in Florida public schools. It required schools to receive written parental consent before a child is allowed to participate in any reproductive health classes; allowed parents and citizens procedures to review such materials and call for their removal; and overall, increased transparency and public oversight over sex education.

Status: Due to many other high-profile bills listed above taking much of the time in the process, this bill did not move this session, but we strongly support making this a priority next session.


 HB 0405/SB 0936 Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Act (Rep. Plakon/Sen. Baxley)

Description: The ordinance intended to establish a Gambling Prevention Commission to study gaming addictions and provide solutions on how to counteract the problem.

Status: The bill failed to advance in either house and is dead for session.


HB 0663/SB 1004 Recall of County Officers and Commissioners (Rep. Williamson/ Sen. Gruters)

Description: The joint resolution sought 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 would provide an extra method of keeping locally elected officials accountable for their actions and policy decisions.

Status: The bill passed several committees in the House, but failed to advance in the Senate.