Charles Parker: 2015 Legislative Session Begins Today

By  //  March 3, 2015

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OUT-ON-A-WIRE-580-15-4

Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday.

Potential Bills Have Already Been Filed Away In the Ashcan of History

Today marks the beginning of the 2015 legislative session in Tallahassee. There will be the perfunctory speeches, the desks will be filled with flowers, and the kids and grandkids will be running about.

This is, of course, not the beginning of the work.

Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott

Republican Governor Rick Scott has sent his budget proposal to the House and Senate – complete with a record-setting raise in student spending and tax cuts on cell phone bills and cable TV. As a parent of four kids – three of whom still get help from dear-old-dad for social connections through handheld devices –I particularly welcome the tax relief.

Steve Crisafulli

Steve Crisafulli

Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) and Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) have issued countless press releases and given countless press events to highlight their agenda. While they address some of the issues Scott has as priorities, it will be interesting to watch these three dance over the next 60 days.

Andy Gardiner

Andy Gardiner

And committees have been meeting for months. Many potential bills have already been filed away in the ashcan of history, some have been changed to make them more palatable for other committees, and there are some that have passed muster and will be considered fairly quickly by their respective legislative bodies.

So the question is raised at this point – what do Brevardians need to be looking for.

First, Amendment 1. This extremely popular change in the Florida Constitution last election cycle mandates that one-third of excise tax revenue go to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for water and land conservation.

Crisafulli has said that he intends to better manage the current lands that are preserved by the state before looking at new purchases. As well, we can hope that he pushes help for the Indian River Lagoon and our local storm water issues. I mean – what good does it do a locality to claim the guy in power, if the guy in power doesn’t take care of the homefront.

Second, education. There is a lot of conversation all over the place about testing. The governor has already suspended one test for 11th graders and has proposed more changes.

Historically, Brevard has tested their students three times throughout the year with the formative type. As a past English teacher, I saw some benefit to these to help me help my students. It will be interesting to see if Brevard changes its policies and then how.

He wants to give local school systems more say in what are called formative assessments – tests that help teachers gauge their students’ readiness for high-stakes summative assessments.

Historically, Brevard has tested their students three times throughout the year with the formative type. As a past English teacher, I saw some benefit to these to help me help my students. It will be interesting to see if Brevard changes its policies and then how.

After today, the flowers will fade away and the kids and grandkids will return to their homes. The speeches will no longer be standard-issue, but will be issue-specific. We will listen to a few, but probably won’t remember any.

What is lasting however are the bills the legislators will pass and the laws the governor will sign. Let’s get engaged for the next 60 days and make sure our local politicians look out for us and the whole of them look out for our state.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective/opinion column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday. 

He is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.

Charles Parker

Charles Parker

Currently, Parker is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.

Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.

Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.

You can reach him at cpbrevard@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cpbrevard_scd

AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College or Valencia College.


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