School bus advertising bill narrowly makes it out of committee
A bill that would allow Florida school districts to sell ads on the sides of school buses almost didn't make it out of its first Senate committee on Monday.
Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, expressed severe reservations about the legislation, saying she worried that districts might accept inappropriate ads in search of needed income. She also questioned the propriety of asking the private sector to pay for a primary component of the public school system at a time when the Legislature has cut funding to the schools.
Having counted votes, though, Bullard decided to (temporarily) back fellow Democrat Sen. Bill Montford's bill, which otherwise would have gone down in the Pre-K-12 Committee on a vote of 3-3. GOP senators Ellyn Bogdanoff and Lizbeth Benacquisto voted no.
"I am going to have it leave the committee," Bullard said. "It is going to come before me again."
Montford, a retired Leon County schools superintendent, said he was not keen on the bill himself. "This quite frankly is a desperate move," he said. "But it's one that is needed."
As amended, the bill would send half the collected revenue toward school transportation, 25 percent to school district general operations and 25 percent to a local education foundation as an endowment to support added fund raising. A spokeswoman for the Florida Beverage Association, which represents nonalcoholic drink producers, advised the committee not to consider her companies while making its decision.
"We will not be availing ourselves of this opportunity, should it be passed," spokeswoman Martha Hardin said.
The bill is also assigned to the Senate transportation and budget committees for review. A similar House bill is assigned to three House committees.