Legislative Update: House Passes Bills To Improve Educational Climate For Florida’s Students

By  //  February 22, 2016

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WEEK 6 LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE

The week, the House passed a number of bills that work to improve the educational climate for Florida's students.

The week, the House passed a number of bills that work to improve the educational climate for Florida’s students.

The week, the House passed a number of bills that work to improve the educational climate for Florida’s students.

I believe these bills will help ensure greater opportunity for learning and growth.

Making College More Affordable and Accessible

House Bill 7017, relating to Career and Adult Education, increases apprenticeship and career education opportunities to help students thrive in the educational environment that best suits their needs. Apprenticeship programs allow students to learn real world skills on the job, making them an asset to future employers.

House Bill 7019, relating to Postsecondary Access and Affordability, expands affordable access to higher education so more Floridians will have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals. This bill will help open doors to students who may think that college is out of their reach because of the financial hardship.

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Rewarding and Incenting Educational Excellence

House Bill 7043, relating to Education, codifies and expands accountability and recognition measures for colleges and universities that achieve academic excellence.

I believe the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, also codified by this bill, will help us bring the greatest talent to our classrooms and reward our best teachers who prepare our students for a brighter future. The bill also establishes the emerging preeminence designation, which paves the way for more of our universities to strive for national academic and research excellence.

Expanding School Choice Options

House Bill 7029, relating to School Choice, recognizes that educational options allow parents and students to make the choice that best suits the child’s abilities and goals. This bill promotes the opening of high-quality charter schools so students have access to the best possible educational environment.

House Bill 669, relating to Educational Choice, enhances fiscal transparency by requiring school districts to notify parents of the average amount of money expended per student in the school and authorizing district school boards to perform additional audits and reviews. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, parents would be allowed to seek enrollment and transport their child to any public school in the state that has not reached capacity.

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Making Florida the Nation’s Most Veteran-Friendly State

House Bill 799, relating to Out-of-State Fee Waivers for Active Duty Servicemembers, creates a fee waiver for active duty service members residing outside of the state at the time of enrollment in a Florida postsecondary institution.

House Bill 1157, relating to Postsecondary Education for Veterans, expands current law to allow veterans to earn college credit for college-level training and education acquired during their military service.

Promoting New Ways for Students to Learn

House Bill 1365 creates the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program within the Department of Education to provide an educational environment that allows students to progress based upon the mastery of concepts and skills. In my opinion, the bill explores a new way of learning so classrooms can adjust to the needs of the students, not the students to the classroom.

Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

House Bill 1155, relating to Membership Associations, prohibits membership associations from using tax dollars to litigate against the state. To promote transparency and accountability of these associations, this bill also requires them to file financial reports annually.

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The bills passed this past week are only part of the House’s overall effort to provide Florida students with the best opportunities in the nation, from kindergarten to postgraduate degrees. In the Florida House, it is our goal to provide students with a first-rate education at every level so they are prepared for success and able to find good paying jobs.

House Passes Revisions to  Florida’s Death Penalty Sentencing Process

This week, the House passed House Bill 7101 to amend Florida’s sentencing process for capital felonies. Recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled Florida’s death sentencing process was unconstitutional. The bill makes numerous important changes to our death sentencing laws to comply with the Supreme Court ruling to ensure our process is constitutional.

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The sentencing process addressed in the bill occurs after a unanimous guilty verdict has been found by the jury.

Under this legislation, should the jury unanimously find at least one aggravating factor, they may recommend either a sentence of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Then, to recommend a sentence of death, a minimum of 10 of the 12 jurors must concur in the recommendation.

If fewer than ten jurors concur, they must recommend a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. I believe capital sentencing should continue to be a tool at Florida’s disposal to punish our most dangerous criminals, and I think the changes in this bill are essential to keeping our process constitutional and just.

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