By Faith and Freedom Staff
After two months of committee meetings, Florida’s lawmakers will begin the official legislative session next week on Tuesday, March 2. Members will have 60 days to push their priority bills through the legislature. While there are plenty of good bills, and even more bad ones, only a small percentage will actually pass the legislature and be signed by Governor DeSantis.
In advance of the big kickoff, and in order to promote our shared values, the team at Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition published its legislative agenda this week. Below is a brief summary of our priorities this session. The list is not in order of importance—all are priority items.
Florida continues its march of election reform. Over the last twenty years, our state has led the nation in working to ensure that we have free and fair elections. Senator Dennis Baxley has introduced SB 90, a bill limiting the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election. The idea behind the bill is to prevent ballots from being mailed to residences where the voter no longer lives—a great idea in an era when the population is highly mobile and changes their home address frequently.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Domestic violence is a major problem in our state and has only become worse during the coronavirus pandemic. SB 68 by Senator Ileana Garcia exempts personal identifying and location information of current and former staff and volunteers of domestic violence centers certified by the Department of Children and Families from public records requirements. It also exempts personal identifying and location information of spouses and children of such personnel. There have been many problems with staff of domestic violence centers being targeted by abusive spouses whose significant other sought help at a shelter. This bill would help to alleviate that problem.
Other important legislation in this area includes two bills on human trafficking. SB 554 by Senator Perry Thurston provides for human trafficking education in schools, revising the health education requirements to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking and specifying the minimum requirements of the human trafficking education portion of the comprehensive health education curriculum. Another bill, HB 523 by Representative Jackie Toledo boosts the rights of victims of human trafficking and requires that communication between victim advocates and victims of human trafficking victim remain confidential. A final bill in this area is SB 1384 by Senator Ray Rodrigues, which provides for the involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators.
Senator Ray Rodrigues is also sponsoring a key piece of abortion legislation—the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Doctors who abort a fetus after more than 20 weeks of gestation could be charged with a felony. It requires physicians performing or inducing abortions to determine the probable gestational age of the unborn child. The legislation is based on studies that show the fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks.
In the education realm, Senator Manny Diaz has introduced SB 48, strengthening Florida’s school choice scholarship programs. Representative Grall is promoting her bill, HB 241 to strengthen parental rights related to a minor child’s education, upbringing, & health care.
FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY
Senator Manny Diaz proposed a resolution the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition strongly supports—SB 150 on Individual Liberty and Democracy. This resolution renounces democratic socialism in favor of the true American values of individual liberty and democracy.
Rest assured that your team at the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition will be actively communicating with legislators to advance our agenda. We urge you to contact your legislators in the Florida House and Senate and tell them you support these important bills. Thank you!