2017 Legislative Session Briefing
The landscape in Tallahassee has shifted dramatically for Equality Florida as we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year as a progressive organization with unprecedented levels of support. Our strategy has always been built on bipartisan support, carving out victories in a hostile climate, and finding common ground with our opponents to move equality forward against all odds.
The landscape in our country has shifted too. Now more than ever, our communities understand we must stand in solidarity together. An attack on one of us is truly an attack on ALL of us, and we know that we must have an intersectional approach in order to achieve full equality for the LGBTQ community.
The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is our top priority, to ban discrimination in Florida. We also believe it is urgently important to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy in our state. And we will do whatever is necessary to neutralize and defeat any efforts to roll back our hard-fought progress at the local level.
SUPPORT HB 623/SB 666: The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is our top priority - this bill will finally prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians and will ensure that Florida is a safe place to live, work, and play for all people, including those who are LGBTQ.
Sponsors are Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and Representatives Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville).
18 Senators, including Sponsors Co-Sponsors (14 Democrats and 4 Republicans): Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation); Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens); Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee); Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth); Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale); Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami); Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah); Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville); Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast); Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee); Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach); Sen. Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton); Sen. José Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami); Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg); Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando); Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale); Sen. Victor Torres (D-Orlando); Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa)
51 House Representatives, including Sponsors and Co-Sponsors (36 Democrats and 15 Republicans) : Rep. Joe Abruzzo (D-Palm Beach); Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee); Rep. Bruce Antone (D-Orlando); Rep. Robert Asencio (D-Miami); Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee); Rep. Daisy J. Baez (D-Coral Gables); Rep. Lori Berman (D-Lantana); Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Orlando); Rep. John Cortes (D-Kissimmee); Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa); Rep. Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville); Rep. Bobby Dubose (D-Fort Lauderdale); Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg); Rep. Nicholas Duran (D-Miami); Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation); Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers); Rep. Joseph Geller (D-Dania Beach); Rep. Tom Goodson (R-Merritt Island); Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota); Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton); Rep. Patrick Henry (D-Daytona Beach); Rep. Roy Hardemon (D-Miami); Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek); Rep. Al Jacquet (D-West Palm Beach); Rep. Evan Jenne (D- Hollywood); Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park); Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven); Rep. Chris Latvala (R- Clearwater); Rep. Amber Mariano (R-Hudson); Rep. Ralph Massullo (R-Beverly Hills); Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-Miami); Rep. Amy Mercado (D-Orlando); Rep. Alex Miller (R-Sarasota); Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando); Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D- Coral Springs); Rep. Kathleen M. Peters (R-St. Petersburg); Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville); Rep. Sharon Pritchett (D-Miramar); Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo); Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach); Rep. Barrington Russell (D-Lauderhill); Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona); Rep. David Silvers (D-West Palm Beach); Rep. Sean Shaw (D-Tampa); Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-Delray Beach); Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando); Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston); Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa); Rep. Clovis Watson, Jr. (D- Gainesville); Rep. Matt Willhite (D-Royal Palm Beach); Rep. Patricia Hawkins-Williams (D-Fort Lauderdale)
SUPPORT HB 273/SB 578: Banning Conversion Therapy. So-called conversion therapy is fraudulent, dangerous, and inflicts immeasurable harm on its victims. We applaud Senator Jeff Clemens and Representative David Richardson for introducing a statewide ban on the practice.
OPPOSE HB 17/SB 1158: Sweeping Local Preemptions puts all local employee protections, including ordinances banning anti-LGBT discrimination, in serious jeopardy. Under the broad definition of regulation in HB 17 and SB 1158, all 42 Human Rights Ordinances which protect 60% of Floridians across the state would be considered a business regulation and would be pre-empted entirely, opening the door for statewide discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. These bills are NOT identical, however, making it very unlikely that either will become law as written. Sponsors are Representative Randy Fine and Senator Kathleen Passidomo.
OPPOSE HB 303/SB 436: Religious Expression in Schools is an overly broad bill that opens the door for discrimination in Florida’s schools. The freedom of religion is fundamental to our values, but this bill goes far beyond the First Amendment protections afforded to all students and teachers, and creates unintended consequences for students who are religious minorities, who identify as LGBTQ, or who are non-religious. Sponsors are Representative Kimberly Daniels and Senator Dennis Baxley
Advocating for reproductive justice is crucial to our fight for LGBTQ equality. Reproductive justice means ensuring access to safe and legal abortion, but it also means combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS and supporting access to basic healthcare in our state. That is why we are so proud to fight shoulder to shoulder with our friends at Planned Parenthood, the Florida Latina Advocacy Network, Florida NOW, and so many others to defend access to reproductive health services.
SUPPORT HB 605/SB 628: HIV Criminalization Reform is designed to reduce criminal penalties for persons living with HIV. Laws that criminalize people living with HIV discourage testing, and therefore contribute to the spread of HIV. Sponsors are Senator Rene Garcia and Representative Shevrin Jones
SUPPORT HB 6025/SB 1114: A bill to repeal the unconstitutional TRAP bill that was passed last year and later ruled unconstitutional. Legislators shouldn’t turn lies into laws, and when they do, we are grateful when the courts step in. Sponsors are Representative Amy Mercado and Senator Linda Stewart
OPPOSE HB 19/SB 1140: This Abortion Liability bill promotes a false narrative that abortion is shameful and dangerous. HB 19 would significantly increase the risk physicians face in providing safe and legal abortion care and is a blatant attempt to restrict access to abortion services. Sponsors are Representative Erin Grall and Senator Kelli Stargel.
OPPOSE HB 203/SB 348: A 20-week abortion ban is a mean-spirited attack on safe and legal abortion that has no basis in fact. There is no medically necessary reason for access to abortion to be restricted. Sponsors are Representative Joe Gruters and Senator Greg Steube
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
This year, after the Pulse massacre claimed 49 lives, we committed to advocating for common sense gun violence prevention measures in combination with our work to move equality forward for LGBTQ people. We know that discrimination against our community can be lethal, and gun violence is a civil rights issue that disproportionately impacts all marginalized communities, including people of color and immigrant communities. Alongside the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, we are joining forces with our allies to advocate for policies that will keep our families safe.
SUPPORT HB 167/SB 254: A ban on military-style assault rifles is an important policy reform, especially after the Pulse massacre. There is simply no legitimate reason for private citizens to have access to military-style assault weapons like the Sig Sauer MCX firearm used to murder 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub. These weapons of war do not belong in civilian hands. Sponsors are Representative Carlos Smith and Senator Linda Stewart
SUPPORT HB 1113/SB 1334: Expanded background checks to cover all gun purchases, removing the gun show loophole and ensuring that guns do not fall into the hands of those who seek to do harm. Sponsors are Representative Bruce Antone and Senator Gary Farmer.