HB 7055, Speaker Richard Corcoran’s controversial Bully-voucherizing, charter-expanding, school-board-eroding, teacher-union- destroying, buried-in-the-House-budget train hit the brick wall of the Florida Senate this past Thursday.
Earlier in the day the House passed its budget, HB 5001, which stipulates that any school funding is contingent on passage of HB 7055:
HB 5001,Page 20, SA 92
AID TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS GRANTS AND AIDS – FLORIDA EDUCATIONAL FINANCE PROGRAM
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND . . . . . 8,304,293,552
FROM STATE SCHOOL TRUST FUND . . . . 32,838,902
Funds in Specific Appropriation 92 are contingent upon CS/HB 7055 or similar legislation becoming law.
Once HB 5001 was received in messages, Sen. Rob Bradley offered an amendment to delete the entire contents of the HB 5001, including HB 7055. The Senate then inserted its budget, SB 2500, passed it, sent it back to the House and adjourned until Valentine’s Day. This Senate action removes HB 7055 from the budget conference.
During this time, the House was locked in a winner-takes-all floor debate over the merits of HB 7055, which is perhaps more despised than last year’s HB 7069. HB 7055 passed 66/43 with 11 missed. Interestingly, some house members crossed party lines to vote against HB 7055 while voting for HB 5001 which contains HB 7055 thinking it would somehow make them look better. It does not.
At a press conference following the successful vote to strike HB 7055 and the House budget and insert the Senate budget, President Joe Negron, Appropriations Chair Sen. Rob Bradley and K-12 Appropriations Chair Sen. Kathleen Passidomo made it clear that they did not want to entertain a massive bill featuring 59 separate issues and twelve pages of title that could not be voted on, amended, discussed or put through the committee process.
“That’s why it (HB 7055) should go to committee so we can parse through all the policies and make sure each of the policies are good for the state of Florida,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, Appropriations Chair.
“It makes no matter to me whether a bill is ten pages or two hundred pages, as long as it goes through a proper process of vetting and people have the opportunity to amend, take out, put in and change language and have a vote up or down when it reaches the floor. The concern is tying it (HB 7069) to an up or down vote and not having it go through the amendatory process. That’s what the Senate would like to avoid with major education policy this session.”
The Senate action will force a confrontation with the House over HB 7055. If HB 7055 makes it to the Senate committee process portions of it probably will pass.
Although the Senators did not mention it directly, their actions indicate an understanding of the Single Subject Clause in the Florida Constitution which states that bills must clearly cover a single topic.
Florida Constitution, Article III, Section 6 – Single Subject:
SECTION 6. Laws.—Every law shall embrace but one subject and matter properly connected therewith, and the subject shall be briefly expressed in the title. No law shall be revised or amended by reference to its title only. Laws to revise or amend shall set out in full the revised or amended act, section, subsection or paragraph of a subsection. The enacting clause of every law shall read: “Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:”
This is not the end of HB 7055, given the legislature’s history of devious deals. Several times during the press conference, both Senate President Joe Negron and Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley repeatedly stated that they liked the contents of HB 7055 and if they were presented to Senate committees for discussion, they’d have a good chance at passage. Negron was crystal clear that SB 4, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018 with a budget appropriation of $123,513,035.00 is his #1 priority. Let the secret horsetrading begin.
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