HB 1143 by Representative Matt Hudson, the deregulation bill FHCA has been working on for months, had passed the House as we've previously reported. Today, its companion (SB 2434) was on the calendar in the Senate. When it came up, Senator Andy Gardiner accepted the House bill, and President Jeff Atwater moved into the amendatory process. That's when things got interesting.
A controversial amendment on blood banking by Senator Don Gaetz was added to the bill against the request of the sponsor (the House has previously said this language is not acceptable). Senator Gardiner then proceeded to add a controversial abortion amendment to the bill, and after nearly two hours of debate, the amendment passed. Immediately following, two other abortion-related items were amended on the bill. Suddenly, this deregulatory bill became the hottest topic of discussion on the fourth floor of the Capitol.
Will the Senate take off the blood banking language Thursday on third reading? Will the House kill the bill if it comes over with that language included? Does the House support the abortion language? What will Governor Crist do if the bill makes it to his desk? Suddenly nursing homes' deregulation issues are caught up in the middle of the pro choice/pro life debate. Who would have thought we'd see such a dilemma?
Stay tuned for more on Thursday, or watch it for yourself by visiting Online Sunshine at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/.