Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed 30 bills into law, including a measure that could make more permanent a controversial pregnancy “support services” program and a bill that calls for placing a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the U.S. Capitol.
The list of bills signed by Scott also included a measure that will revamp regulations for the payday-loan industry, a plan to create a slavery memorial at the Capitol and a series of proposals dealing with health-care issues.
The pregnancy “support services” measure (HB 41), sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, drew fiery debate during this year’s legislative session.
The bill will put the program into law after years of lawmakers supporting it in annual budgets. Putting programs into law makes them more permanent than authorizing them through the budget process.
The program provides services to women and encourages carrying pregnancies to term. But the left-leaning group Progress Florida on Monday night criticized Scott for signing the bill, calling centers used in the program “fake clinics that use medically inaccurate information to oppose abortion and judge, shame, and mislead women.”
Scott also signed bills that deal with a variety of health-care issues.
One of the measures (SB 660) expands an insurance-code exemption for non-profit religious organizations. That measure was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indialantic.
Another bill (SB 510) requires that adverse incidents of planned births that occur outside of hospitals be reported to the Florida Department of Health. That bill was sponsored by Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Dana Young, R-Tampa, and Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta.
Also approved was a sweeping regulatory bill (SB 622) that includes such things as eliminating a longstanding state HMO review panel and making changes to the state’s assisted-living facility licensure requirements. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, and Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville.