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House proposes blocking all state money from Planned Parenthood


State lawmakers are working on the state's budget, and leaders in the Florida House want to make sure none of that money goes to Planned Parenthood.

At the top of the chamber's budget proposals for the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration are directions that "no funds...may be provided to Planned Parenthood" and "no recipients of funds...shall provide funding to Planned Parenthood directly or indirectly."

"I think it's the appropriate checks and balances that has to go on within the three branches of government," said Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, the House's health care budget chairman. "And, frankly, I think it's the right thing to do."

This is the Legislature's first budget since videos were published online last summer that appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials in other states discussing fetal tissue donation programs. The videos incited outrage among many conservatives, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who instructed AHCA to investigate the state's 16 Planned Parenthood clinics, which resulted in contested violations, although none of them were related to the videos.

The Florida Family Policy Council, a group of social conservatives, has been attacking Scott for not being hard enough on Planned Parenthood, asking him to instruct AHCA to end state Medicaid contracts that send about $45,000 a year to the organization. State money cannot be used to fund abortions, but Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics 

But Hudson said the videos are not why that language is in the budget bill.

Still, he said there's nothing unusual about banning Planned Parenthood funding, even for competitive DOH and AHCA contracts, while allowing other abortion clinics' services to receive state money.

"We have the ability to decide who we appropriate to and who we don't appropriate to," Hudson said. "If we're going to highlight a specific entity in the budget that we're going to fund, why not highlight a specific entity we're not going to fund."

The provision is not in the Senate's proposed budget.

But Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said it could come up as the two chambers negotiate differences in their budgets in conference committee.

"Well, I think there are a lot of our members -- lot of our conservative members in the Senate that would want to take a look at that issue," he said. "And if the House is raising it, it sounds like it might be a conference discussion that we’re going to have whether members want to have it or not. so you know, put it on the list of things to talk about."

Times/Herald staff writer Jeremy Wallace contributed to this post.