Our last newsletter outlined the 2014 Work Plan proposals jointly developed by Senate President Don Gaetz (R- Destin) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R- Wesley Chapel) that highlighted an agenda to address Florida’s most pressing needs. Midway through session, here is the progress on those priorities:
EDUCATION Both chambers have passed bills which would revise the Florida Prepaid Program to make it more affordable for college-bound students. The Senate is moving a bill which limits inflation-based tuition increases. Programs that link education with the economy through career and industry certifications are also moving forward. The House package includes expansion of the school voucher program and streamlining of charter school contracts with districts.
VETERANS APPRECIATION LEGISLATION On March 14th the Senate unanimously concurred with the House by passing the bill which expands the education and employment opportunities for returning veterans. Governor Scott signed the legislation on Monday, March 31st. Investments to update Florida’s military installations have also been approved. The Legislature and Governor have delivered on this priority.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE CITIZENS Four bills which further protect the public from sexual offenders passed both chambers and signed by the Governor. Additionally, efforts to improve assisted living facilities, increased funding for child advocacy centers, reduced waiting lists for persons with disabilities and other similar actions are moving forward.
VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES A bill to roll back vehicle registration fees to 2009 levels passed the Legislature. The $395 million annual reduction will trim the fees on light weight vehicles by $18.55, $21.55 for middle weight vehicles, and $25.05 for heavy vehicles. The Governor signed the bill into law on April 2nd.
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY & EFFICIENCY On the first day of session, both chambers passed legislation which clarifies residency requirements for holding elected office. Bills are also moving which would create a new Agency for State Technology within the Department of Management Services to oversee information and technology throughout state government. Legislation addressing ethics is also a top priority.