In the 2019 Florida legislative session, only about 10 percent of the 1,861 bills filed won approval from both the House and Senate.
What about the rest?
During the committee weeks and two-month session, we wrote about several other ideas that generated plenty of conversation. For the most part, while they were talkers, they fizzled out. Here’s a rundown of some of those hot topics.
BIBLE LESSONS: Some House members sought to require all high schools to offer courses in Bible literacy. The bill got lots of attention, a positive vote in one committee, and never advanced.
‘CONTROVERSIAL THEORIES’: One of the Senate’s most controversial members offered a bill to have schools provide alternatives to “controversial theories” such as climate change and evolution. SB 330 never got heard.
BOOK BANS: Conservatives in the House and Senate proposed a measure to make it even easier to remove school books deemed unacceptable. The House version won approval in one committee after it was significantly stripped down, while the Senate version never received a hearing.
PARENTAL RIGHTS: Legislators talked about creating a new section of Florida statute to spell out exactly what rights parents have in the education and care of their children. They faced significant pushback from people who worried that children’s rights — particularly those of LGBTQ youth — could be violated in the process. The bills didn’t get heard until late in the session, and they didn’t have enough time to advance. But they’re expected to be back.
SCHOOL BOARD TERM LIMITS: Using the phrase “Eight is Enough,” proponents of limiting school board terms argued that almost nothing was more popular. House sponsor Anthony Sabatini said he wasn’t sure if Florida’s beaches would poll as high. But the Senate didn’t have enough support to get a needed three-fifths majority to put the idea on the 2020 ballot, so neither chamber took formal action on the idea.
FINANCIAL LITERACY: Lawmakers wanted to make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement. After a sixth year of trying, they settled for mandating every high school offer the course as an elective, added to HB 7071. Maybe next year.
CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS: Charter supporters have for years tried to establish an alternate path to approval than the current dependence on school districts as sponsors. They argue the current model is akin to asking McDonald’s if it’s okay for Burger King to open next door. The state’s first alternate authorizer was deemed unconstitutional. A stab at putting the idea before voters in 2018 was removed from the ballot. So the House proposed allowing colleges and universities to do the job. It survived the House, but never gained traction in the Senate.
TEACHER TESTING: Amid complaints the state’s general knowledge test for teacher certification is too hard, the Florida House proposed a workaround. It would have allowed teachers who successfully complete a two-year mentorship program to gain permanent certification even if they failed the test. Opposition to that idea came from both flanks. Ultimately, the chambers reached a compromise in SB 7070 of allowing teachers a two-year extension on their temporary certification while they attempt to pass, if they meet other criteria such as a top evaluation or participation in the mentorship.
TEACHER BONUSES: Since 2015, teachers have complained about the SAT/ACT requirement they had to meet to qualify for a state Best and Brightest bonus. Lawmakers adopted a new criteria instead in SB 7070. Teachers remain unhappy.
See a list of more high profile bills in education and other subject areas and how they fared. If we missed one you’re interested in, let us know and we’ll check it out.