News from Tallahassee - Jan 16 2015


FLORIDA - January 16, 2015 - The formal session of the 2015 Florida Legislature does not begin until March 3rd, however, legislators have already begun to file bills, and committees and subcommittees of both the House and the Senate began holding meetings on January 5th. Most of last week’s meetings were to review agency budget requests and to get updates and clarification on major issues. 
The Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee, for instance, heard Commissioner Pam Stewart review current public school assessment policies, as did the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. The House Education Committee heard an update on the Federal Child Care Development Block Grant and other information dealing with child care and early learning, and the Education Appropriations Subcommittee reviewed departmental budget requests from the Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning and the Board of Governors of the State University System. 

Bills of Interest

Lawmakers have been introducing bills for several weeks now and the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools’ Advocacy Team is already tracking several bills of interest. Here are a few:

HB 61 - Relating to Charter Schools (No Senate companion bill has been filed yet.) 
This bill would require a charter school applicant to provide evidence of a surety bond or secured escrow account by specified date to cover first-year operation costs.

A bill with similar language failed to advance last year.

SB 254 - Relating to Charter Schools (No House companion bill have been filed yet.) 
This bill would require a charter school to demonstrate it meets certain needs that the local school district does not, or is unable to, provide to students in that district in order to obtain approval.

SB 280 - Relating to Teacher Salaries (No House companion has been filed yet.) 
This bill (also known as the Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act) would require the State to fund the FEFP Program at a level to ensure a minimum guaranteed annual salary of $50,000 for instructional personnel.

HB 163 and SB 224 - Relating to Public Records
This bill would add notification and protection to business owners who contract with state and local governments from public records requests that result in lawsuits.

It is too early to tell where these bills are going but FCPCS will continue to monitor them, and any action related to education that the legislature makes.

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