Is the Free Kill Bill (HB-6051) Dead for 2020?

March 8, 2020

 

Florida House Representative Emily Slosberg introduced HB 6051 to fully repeal Florida's Free Kill law in the 2020 legislative session.  Co-sponsors of this bill were Bush ; Cortes ; Eskamani ; Jenne ; Killebrew ; and Mercado. Unfortunately the Bill was never heard by the three subcommittees it was slated for (Civil Justice, Insurance and Banking and Judiciary subcommittees).  As session comes to a close, the subcommittees have stopped meeting for 2020.  We won't have another shot at it until the 2021 session, but to ensure another Bill gets introduced and passes, we have some work to do.  

 

Don't be discouraged, we have come a long way.  A lot of people have come together to support change.  Some have joined us, but there are other groups as well, that we have not even met yet. There are bills that have taken ten or more years to pass. I have high expectations that we can help get this law repealed next year, but I need your help. Repealing Florida's Free Kill law makes sense.  Allowing the death of unmarried persons with no minor is unconstitutional, not to mention discriminatory.  Florida, being the only state that has this law, (or anything like it) makes it ripe for change.  As long as we keep pushing for change as unified, concerned citizens, it will. 

 

A team of advocates and Florida Medical Rights Association Board Chairman (me), went to Tallahassee during session and learned what must be done for this to promote the bill to pass and why.  As a board made up of volunteers, who work and have families, we can't do it all alone.

 

We are seeking your participation

to assist with the next steps.  

 

Step 1 - Get a bipartisan companion Senate Bill to repeal Free Kill for 2021...

 

 

Representative Slosberg and several of the Bill's bipartisan co-sponsors have verbally committed to FMRA team members to file a new House Bill in next year's session.  Since she is a House Representative, she may only file a House Bill.  If a companion Bill (exact same Bill) is filed in the Senate as well, our chances of changing this law increase dramatically.  I personally spoke with one Senator (to be revealed at the appropriate time), who has given a verbal commitment to sponsor a Senate Bill to repeal Free Kill next year.  The Senator who said he will file is a Democrat. For an even better chance of passing a Senate Bill, we need it to be bipartisan. Therefore it would be best if we could find a Republican Senator to co-sponsor the Senate Bill.

 

As Senators return to their home cities from their time in Tallahassee, we need to call the Republican Senators.  It is especially important that they receive phone calls from their local constituents.  The way our political system is set up - creates an environment where legislators care more about the issues that trouble the people in their districts because they have voting power to keep them in office, or not.  If Florida Republican Senators get numerous phone calls asking them to file a companion bill to the next House bill to repeal the Free Kill law (Florida Statute 768.21(8)), they may listen.

 

A good time to start calling is the first week in April.  Here is a list of all Florida SenatorsClicking on their names will bring you to their phone numbers.  Focus on contacting the Republican Senators first.  Tell them there will be another House Bill to repeal Free Kill, and you are hoping they are willing to co-sponsor a companion Senate Bill.  For a list of talking points on the law click here.

 

Step 2 - Get the repeal of the bipartisan Free Kill House Bill on the subcommittee agendas in 2021...

 

In order to pass, a Bill must first be heard in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the subcommittees to which they are assigned. Thousands of Bills go unheard each year as there is only a three month period (session) in which they are heard.  This period runs from January 13th - March 14th annually.  During this time all Senators and House Representatives spend Monday - Friday in their Tallahassee office.  The rest of the year they work in their home areas.  

 

HB 6051 was assigned to the Civil Justice Subcommittee as the first to hear the Bill.  House Representative Bob Rommel is the Chairman of this committee and has the authority to create the agenda.  In this year's session, he refused to allow HB 6051 to be heard in his committee.  Additionally he also the Vice Chair of the Judiciary subcommittee, another through which this Bill must pass in order to change the law.

 

Since House Representatives value their local voters more than anyone else, Florida Medical Rights Association has decided to educate Bob Rommel's voters on the Free Kill law, in hopes that he hears directly from his constituents on this topic.  Assuming they do, he may be inclined to change his mind next year. We have purchased a list of super voters and have been mailing polite informational letters to them with an ask to contact him.  To participate in this mailing please contact us.  To date, volunteers have collectively mailed out 2,400 letters.  A copy of the letter is below.

 

 

Step 3 - But wait... there is one more person who can put a Bill to repeal Florida's Free Kill law on the agenda in 2021...

 

The Speaker of the House can over-ride any agenda to add an item if they so choose.  In 2021, the Florida Speaker of the House will be Chris Sprowls, a Republican from Pinellas County.  Our work this year will include calling campaigns to Representative Sprowls and to educate his voting population about Florida Free Kill.

 

In my experience 1 in 20 people that I talk to in Florida is either in the Free Kill category or has been affected by the law through loss of a friend or family member.  The only way we will win this change is to bring all of these people together as one voice to be heard.  

 

Step 4 - Once there is a companion Senate Bill we will also do a calling campaign to the appropriate Senate Subcommittees.  

 

This step is still to be determined, though assumably, if a Senate Bill is filed, it would be heard in the Senate Subcommittees that mirror the House Subcommittees.

 

Visit our website to learn more: https://www.floridamedicalrights.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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