Florida House Passes Priority Testing, Tax Cut Bills
By Rep. Steve Crisafulli // April 11, 2015
busy, productive week in the Florida House
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — This was a busy and productive week in the Florida House.
On Thursday, the House voted on many good bills, including legislation to address student testing concerns, cut taxes on families and businesses by $690 million, and defend our First and Second Amendment rights.
House Bill 7069 – Education Accountability
The bill reduces the number of state and district assessments students are required to take; increases transparency for parents and students through the adoption of a uniform assessment calendar by school districts and more timely reporting of test results; and grants districts more flexibility in teacher and administrator evaluations as well as in measuring student performance in grades and subjects not associated with the state assessment program.
The bill also requires a three member panel to confirm the validity of the new Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) before school grades or teacher evaluations can be issued for the 2014-2015 school year.
As the father of two daughters in our public schools, I believe accountability is critical to improving our children’s education. This important legislation addresses concerns about student testing while maintaining a strong accountability system so our students continue to receive an outstanding education that prepares them for success in today’s world.
House Bill 7141 – Taxation
We also passed the $690 million “No Tax Is Safe” tax cut package – one of the largest tax cuts of its kind in Florida history.
The broad-based tax package cuts numerous taxes on everything from cell phone and TV bills to college textbooks to property taxes to taxes on our veterans and deployed military personnel.
These tax cuts will provide substantial savings to families and consumers, putting more money back into the pockets of hard-working Floridians and help grow our economy and create jobs.
House Bill 7111 – Conscience Protection for Actions of Private Child-Placing Agencies
House Bill 7111 provides conscience protection for private child-placing agencies to prevent state and local governments from discriminating against faith-based organizations on the basis of their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Promoting loving forever homes for children in need is part of the House and Senate’s Work Plan 2015 joint agenda.
Since the 2010 court case overturning the state’s ban on gay adoption, faith-based adoption organizations have expressed serious concerns about what the change means for them.
In some states, private child-placing agencies which had served their communities for decades stopped providing adoption services due to a conflict between their religious beliefs and state recognition of same-sex marriage or certain anti-discrimination statutes.
I believe Florida should have as many options as possible for adoption.
In my opinion, the passage of both our adoption legislation and conscience protection bill will allow for more adoptions to take place in our state, not fewer, while providing legal protections for faith-based adoption organizations.
Senate Bill 290 – Carrying a Concealed Weapon or Concealed Firearm
The Legislature also passed SB 290, which allows a person who carries a concealed weapon or a person who may lawfully possess a firearm and who carries a concealed firearm to do so while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued under a state of emergency.
This good bill will help families better defend themselves and their property during times of emergency. SB 290 now heads to the Governor for approval.
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BELOW VIDEO: Rep. Steve Crisafulli, the new House Speaker, is from Merritt Island, a seventh-generation Floridian and a member of a prominent citrus family. A cousin, the late Doyle E. Carlton, served as governor from 1929 to 1933, while one of Crisafulli’s grandfathers, Vassar B. Carlton, was chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Crisafulli and his wife, Kristen, have two daughters.