Tally Ho

Tally Ho

Days at the Legislator…

IMG_0450As I write this I am in Tallahassee, sitting in the gallery overlooking the Florida House of Representatives Chambers as HB 5001 – General Appropriations Act (more commonly known as the House budget) and the ominous education “train bill” HB 7055 is debated and voted on. Like many of you, I am shaking my head saying, “can we really be again in the same position”? The response isn’t easy, but as disappointed I am on one side I must remain diligent in the work we now must do. The work for today, tomorrow, next week and for next session. I am causally optimistic about public education’s future. Why? One, because we must, for our students’ and teachers’ sake, but also, because there is reason to be.

Yes, the House passed their version of the budget, and yes HB 7055 also passed the House. Both largely along party lines. But it is also clear that while today things were unclear and unsettling, there will be House leadership changes after this session. I know it is said that we have good representation in the legislature in Senate Wilton Simpson and Representative Dr. Ralph Massullo and that is true, but it is more than simply that.

SimpsonSenator Simpson is on track to assume the Senate presidency in 2020. This will provide the Senator great control in advancing his agenda. I believe Simpson to be a strong supporter of career pathways for our high school students. A passion of mine as well and this is essential to Florida’s economic future, let alone is best for students.

MassulloIn addition to Simpson’s continual leadership in the Senate is what is developing in the House. There will be a change in leadership and potential opportunities for new leaders to emerge. Dr. Massullo is one that many of his House peers greatly respect and feel will continue to play a vital role in the House’s future leadership. That is excellent for students and families! Why? Because simply put, Dr. Massullo “gets it”. He has been willing to put his “bills” where his heart is. Where his heart is, is students and their individual academic needs. As I talked to “education friendly” House members—Dr. Massullo’s name is one of the ones they bring up as being a powerful friend to common sense public education policy. This year’s Dr. Massullo filed HB 311 providing common sense alternatives to high-stake testing, and are but one of those examples, as is his co-sponsoring of HB 427. Watching Dr. Massullo on the floor of the House of Representatives, it is evident that he values and respectfully listens to all House members views whether he agrees or not. But major improvements to issues that we know are vital to public education and our students will likely have to wait for a future session. In the meantime, thank you Dr. Massullo and Senator Simpson!

We turn our attention back to this session. Now that the House has passed their budget and HB 7055 will be sent to the Senate to be conferenced. We now turn our attention to the Senate. Today Florida Senate President Joe Negron told reporters that the Senate will not agree to have HB 7055 as part of the budget conference. He went on to say that the bill should be sent to Senate committees for the Senate to consider. While this may slow the adoption and approval process of HB 7055 down, it by no means stops the bill. President Negron noted that most of what is in HB 7055 is probably supported by the GOP majority. That doesn’t mean it won’t change. Expect amendments to be filed and negotiations to begin between the House and the Senate.

Continue to keep informed and I will do my best to share information. Continue to share with legislators about our students’ and teachers’ needs. And for those of faith, pray for wisdom for these policymakers.

Comments are closed.