doc marten style boots Top Bills to Watch During 2018 Legislative Session
The time is nigh for Florida lawmakers to return to Tallahassee for the annual legislative session, and state lawmakers have wasted no time outlining their top priorities headed into 2018.
Here are some of the top issues and bills lawmakers will throw their weight behind in 2018:Technically speaking, the state’s budget is the only piece of legislation required to pass each year, but how Florida spends the money in its budget differs each year.
Gov. Rick Scott has his own ideas about how the state should spend its money in November, Scott unveiled an $87.4 billion budget plan, the largest since he took office in 2011.
Among Scott’s top priorities: a record $12 billion investment in the state’s education system, the “highest ever” in Florida history. The increase in state funding would be a jump of nearly 37 percent for Florida’s K 12 public schools since Scott first took office, with over $21.4 billion going towards Florida’s public schools. All in all, Scott’s funding numbers equate to around $7,500 per student,
an increase of around $200 per student, a record for per pupil spending.
Scott is also pitching a $220 million investment for Florida environmental programs.
Though Florida leaders have yet to outline their own specific budget proposals, revenue specialists have projected possible budget constraints in 2018 in part due to unexpected costs resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Some bills tackling education issues:
SB 4: Permanent Expansion of Bright Futures Scholarships (Sen. Bill Galvano, R Bradenton)
SB 4, spearheaded by future Senate President Bill Galvano, R Bradenton, would expand the amount of financial aid and scholarship money Florida students could receive under the Bright Futures program, which began in 1997 and is expected to serve nearly 100,000 students this year.
Galvano’s proposal would secure full funding for the Academic Scholar award, the top tier of scholarships in the program. Receiving the top award for the scholarship requires students to have at least a 3.5 GPA as well as a score of 1290 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT.
At least 41,
000 students qualified for the top scholarship tier this year.
Funding would also be reinstated for the Bright Futures Medallion Scholar award, which awards 75 percent of tuition and fees for the fall and spring semesters.
The bill has already seen widespread support and is headed to the Senate floor.
HB 1: “Hope Scholarship” for Victims of Bullying (Rep. Byron Donalds, R Naples)
Students who are victims of bullying, violence or abuse could get a shot at attending a new school as part of a scholarship program pushed by Florida House GOP members during this year’s upcoming legislative session.
Dubbed the “Hope Scholarship,” the new program would give funding to Florida students reporting incidents of violence, allowing them to transfer to public or private schools. Rob Bradley, R Fleming Island)
Sen. Bradley was tapped to take over as Senate Chief in November, and Bradley is prepared to use his powerful position to require extra funding to the tune of $100 million for the state’s “Florida Forever” program.
Florida Forever buys land across the state for conservation purposes and has bought more than 751,000 acres of land with a little over $2.98 billion since the program’s inception in 2001.
Bradley’s bill has already gathered support from groups like the Florida Conservation Voters
“Florida voters have made it clear they want more funding for parks, wildlife corridors,
and environmentally important natural areas like wetlands. I hope that SB 370 is the first sign of the Senate’s renewed commitment to continuing Florida’s legacy of acquiring critical natural areas before they are lost forever,” said Florida Conservation Voters Executive Director Aliki Moncrief.