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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Senate committee approves contentious high school athletics bill



With debate limited by time constraints, the Florida Senate Education Committee on Monday gave its favorable recommendation to a bill that would overhaul the governance of high school sports.

The bill, which also has been moving through the House, had been stalled in the Senate until this meeting. Chairman John Legg expressed his reservations for the legislation, which he noted faces complete revision in the House. Strike-all bills filed late in the session are those deserving the closest scrutiny, Legg said, voicing his opposition to the proposal.

The majority of public speakers on the bill also opposed it for a variety of reasons. But aside from Legg, the committee Republicans voted to move the bill along, with Democrats against. Sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel said the measure would stop the Florida High School Athletics Association from finding loopholes and other means to subvert the will of the Legislature as it attempts to give students more choices and treat them fairly when it comes to athletic eligibility.

"This bill does not allow free agency," Stargel said. "This bill does not allow recruiting."

Rather, she said, it holds the FHSAA accountable. "They believe they do not have to change their bylaws to follow the rules of the Legislature," she said, "so we are back here again."

The bill has one more Senate committee stop before it would head to the floor. The House version has been placed on the special order calendar.

[Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 4:40pm]


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