Controversial education conforming bill HB 7069 in Gov. Rick Scott's hands
The education bill that has inflamed passions across Florida has landed on Gov. Rick Scott's desk, prompting advocates on both sides of the measure to ramp up efforts to influence the governor's decision.
That decision could come soon. There's been unconfirmed talk that Scott might have a signing ceremony for HB 7069 in Orlando on Thursday with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the bill's chief proponent, by his side.
Scott's staff would not verify his plans, saying he's still reviewing the bill. Corcoran called the talk "rumor," though he noted he would be in Orlando on Thursday if the event were to occur.
The governor does not have to take action until June 27. Activists who oppose the measure -- a large group that includes many school boards, superintendents and parent organizations -- have turned to social media to urge their supporters to contact Scott and ask for his veto.
We join legislators of both parties in opposing the secrecy and lack of transparency during the development of HB 7069. #VETO7069— Common Ground ED (@commonground_ED) June 13, 2017
— Robert Avossa (@Supt_Avossa) June 12, 2017
Bill backers, who count among them charter school families and operators and recipients of Gardiner scholarships for children with disabilities, have taken a similar tack for urging Scott's signature.
HB 7069, which among other things would create a new "schools of hope" charter school system for communities with persistently low-performing traditional schools, only narrowly passed the state Senate during the Legislature's regular spring session. It became a flash point for debate in the special session over education funding, with some senators calling for a veto and a special session to fix problems within the measure.
Critics complained that the bill was crafted in private and included too many disparate policy issues, some of which would harm the traditional public school system. Among the biggest concerns raised were provisions to require school districts to share their capital projects local tax revenue with charter schools, and to alter the way schools may use their federal Title I funding.
Supporters, by contrast, lauded the lawmakers' efforts to focus on educating students rather than supporting school systems. Stay tuned.