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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Failed last year? Florida lawmakers resurrect some old ideas



Senate Bill 6 is not the only piece of failed legislation that's getting a new lease on life this year.

Florida lawmakers have reintroduced some controversial bills that didn't survive the 2010 session to see if they can gain traction this time around.

Sen. Thad Altman is again proposing to amend Florida's constitution to eliminate the Blaine Amendment, which forbids the use of state money for any religious purpose. His bill would change the constitution to say: "An individual may not be barred from participating in any public program because that individual has freely chosen to use his or her program benefits at a religious provider."

Critics have argued this change would open the door for free flowing school vouchers. Altman told the Gradebook last year that's not his intention.

A separate group of senators also has brought back the notion of a taxpayers bill of rights, or TABOR, which would limit the amount of revenue the state may generate through taxes to reflect growth only. The bill, which some say would hinder school districts, didn't win much support in the past but this year has the backing of key leaders including Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander and future Senate president Don Gaetz.

Some legislators tell the Gradebook that some ideas take years to incubate before becoming ripe to enter statute. It took Florida three years to push through an anti-bullying law, for instance. At the same time, some ideas need time to let leaders decide they're no good at all. Is anyone seriously talking "65 percent solution" anymore?

What do you think? Is this the year for a Blaine repeal and the creation of TABOR in the Sunshine State?    

[Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 4:22pm]


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