Sen. David Simmons still holds out hope on HB 7069, despite rumors

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs
Published June 14, 2017

Sen. David Simmons has heard the talk that Gov. Rick Scott plans to sign the Legislature's hotly debated education conforming bill HB 7069 into law on Thursday in Orlando, where Simmons practices law when not legislating.

He saw House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the bill's top advocate, tour the state with Scott on Tuesday and understands the optics.

Still, the Senate PreK-12 Appropriations chairman, who has urged Scott to veto the measure and call lawmakers back into session to fix it, remains confident that HB 7069 is not a done deal.

"I have spoken to the governor's representatives about all of the issues at length," Simmons told the Gradebook. "I think he is thoroughly analyzing this. I have been told no decision has been made."

Simmons made sure to point out that it was Scott who pushed for higher per student funding than the House, and who has taken many other steps to "do what's right" in several areas outside of education, as well. He made clear his respect for the governor, and also observed that HB 7069 has plenty of good things in it, such as daily elementary school recess, a permanent extra hour of instruction for low performing schools, the deletion of the value-added model of teacher evaluation, and even the idea of providing more support for the state's most persistently struggling schools.

But he repeated that there has to be a better way than the lengthy up-or-down conforming bill, released shortly before the vote. The ideas within it deserve the right to live or die on their own merits, fully debated in the light of day, he said. The outcome is critical.

"There's one thing to do: Educate these children and break the cycle of poverty," Simmons said.

The governor's office has not provided any more information on Scott's plans with the bill, one of 52 now on his desk awaiting his signature.