Legislative Issues

Of the 3,517 bills filed this Session (including 1,634 proposed House appropriations projects, which are considered bills), only 207 passed both the Senate and House. That is 10 more bills than last year’s total. Here is a recap of some interesting bills that passed and failed this Session.

Education Bills that Failed

EDUCATION BILL The overreaching House education bill, HB 7079, would have helped moved the state toward reducing student testing and adding more civics education to the curriculum. Also included in the legislation was an accelerated process for turnaround schools that began improvement plans, but received another failing grade after implementing the plan.

SCHOOL SAFETY The Legislature was unable to form a consensus on a school safety bill, which made recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, formed after the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland. Some of the items included in the proposal: improving training requirements for dealing with mental health issues; clarification of a district school board requirement for reporting of school safety and discipline incidences such as a zero tolerance for crime and victimization, hazing, bullying and harassment, and dating violence and abuse; coordination of active shooter drills with local Sheriff’s departments; and barring the arrest of minors under seven years old, unless the offense constituted a violent felony.

VOLUNTARY PRE-K A bill overhauling the voluntary Pre-K program passed the House though the Senate never took it up. The bill would have made significant changes to School Readiness, the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program, and implemented stricter statewide standards on providers, which are mostly private Pre-K centers. It would have created a new assessment test to measure student progress from kindergarten through third grade and for those with identified learning disabilities.

TERM LIMITS A joint resolution allowing voters to decide whether or not to enact a state-wide limit to elected local school board members’ terms failed to pass both chambers. While the House approved it on a mostly party line vote, it was never heard in the Senate.

PARENTAL RIGHTS This legislation would have established a parental bill of rights, allowing parents to object to material based on moral or religious beliefs, including sex education. It also would have created exceptions for parents to send their children to school without vaccinating them.

HALLOWEEN HOLIDAY Sorry, ghouls, princesses and pirates. A bill designating the day after Halloween a school holiday never gained traction and died before being heard in committee.

MOMENT OF SILENCE The House approved a proposal that would have required public schools to hold a moment of silence at the beginning of each day. The bill never received a vote in the Senate.