2021 Legislative Bill Update as of March 17th, 2021
(Note Bills added and updated throughout Session)
SB 48 – Educational Scholarship Programs
Senate Bill 48 will convert 5 of Florida’s current voucher programs into 2 Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s). The McKay and Gardiner vouchers will be combined into one ESA for children with special needs. While the 3 remaining voucher programs (the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship; the Florida Empowerment Scholarship; and the Hope/Bullying Scholarship will be combined into 1 Educational Savings Account.
Accountability – While public schools are held accountable for student performance and learning gains on state created standardized assessments, and third graders are retained based on test scores on state tests, families using voucher programs can forgo the standardized testing completely.
Oversight – Private organizations will benefit from Florida’s $1 Billion voucher program expansion. There will be no oversight from elected officials. Program audits will be reduced from annually to once every three years.
Transparency – Recipients will receive a preloaded publicly funded debit card to assemble their child’s education from a plethora of learning options. Parents will be competing on the open market for their child’s educational instruction. A one-stop shop has been created where the debit cards can be used. Items include private tutoring, summer camps, cell phones, iPads, etc.
SB 48 has been placed on its 2nd Reading.
SB 886/HB 359 – COVID 19 Impact on School Accountability
Would hold students, teachers, and schools harmless following the Spring 2021 standardized assessments. SB 886 passed favorably by the Senate Education Committee with 9 years and 1 Nay. The one no vote was by Sen. Manny Diaz.
House Bill has yet to be heard in committee.
SB 1028/HB 51 – Charter Schools
Bills will authorize state universities and Florida College System institutions to sponsor publicly funded charter schools, which currently falls under the responsibility of local, duly elected school boards. HB 51 passed two of the four assigned committees – down party line. SB 1028 has yet to be placed on its first committee agenda.
SB 200/HB 1025 – Student Retention
Authorizing a parent to request that his or her student be retained in a grade level for a specified school year. SB 200 passed its first 2 committees. HB 1025 has yet to be heard in its first stop.
SB 1898/HB 7011 – Student Literacy
Requires the DOE, in consultation with the Office of Early Learning, to implement coordinated screening and progress monitoring system for VPK through grade 8. Revises requirements for instructional personnel and professional development program. Senate Bill passed its first committee unanimously. House Bill passed its first of two assigned committees unanimously.
SB 724/HB 711 – Native Language Assessment in Public Schools
Authorizes students of limited English to have certain assessments administered in their native language or English. Bills have been filed but have yet to be placed on committee agendas.
SB 580/HB 225 – Dyslexia
Would require students in K-3 to be screened for dyslexia; would establish Dyslexia Task Force. Bills have yet to be heard in committees.
SB 582/HB 241 – Parental Rights
Creates the “Parents Bill of Rights” relating to decisions to a child’s education, upbringing and health care. The bills would prohibit health care practitioners from providing health care services or prescribing medicinal drugs to a minor child without a parent’s written consent. SB 582 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 7-3 down party line. HB 241 passed its first 2 committees – down party line.
Concerns: Takes away a child’s ability to confide personal information to a licensed physician.
SB 2012/HB 1475 – Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity
Requiring certain athletic teams or sports sponsored by educational institutions be designated on the basis of a student’s biological sex; prohibits athletic teams or sports designated for female students from being open to male students; specifies conditions under which persons who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category. House Bill passed its first committee stop 13-4 down party line. Senate Bill yet to be placed on it’s the agenda of its first committee stop.
SB 7052 – Florida K-12 Education Tax Credit Program Trust Fund
Creating the Florida K-12 Education Tax Credit Program Trust Fund with the Dept. of Education; providing the purpose of the trust fund and the source of funds; exempting the trust fund from the general revenue service charge; requiring any balance in the trust fund at the end of any fiscal year to remain in the trust fund, etc. Bill placed on calendar on 2nd reading.
SB 1780/HB 1407 – Emergency Drills in Public Schools
Modifies current school active shooter drill protocols to provide prior notification and opt-out options. Bills have yet to be heard in assigned committees.
SB 1614/HB 1325 - Neighborhood Pod Learning Program
Authorizing the parents from at least two unrelated families to establish and operate a neighborhood pod learning program; providing that a parent participating in operating a program is not required to hold a Florida teaching certificate. Bills have yet to be placed on the agenda in assigned committees.
SB 834/HB 1257 – Drinking Water in Public Schools
Requires OPPAGA to conduct study of prevalence and effects of lead in drinking water in public schools. Bills have yet to be heard in committees.
SB 498/HB 259 – Safety of Religious Institutions
Authorizes concealed weapons or firearms licensee to carry firearm on certain property of church, synagogue, or other religious institution. Senate Bill passed its first two committee assigned down party line. House Bill passed all assigned committees down party line.
HB 7035 – School Safety
Requires all safe-school officers, not just SRO’s, to complete mental health crisis intervention. Bill provides safe-school officers the power to arrest on district school board property or on property owned or leased by a charter school. Bill requires school districts to provide a SRO or school-safety officer to a charter school when unable to provide its own.
SB 1282/HB 419 – Early Learning and Early Grade Success
Deletes the Office of Early Learning and creates the Division of Early Learning within the DOE; revises provisions relating to early learning coalitions; VPK and school readiness programs and DOE responsibilities relating to early learning and Gold Seal Quality Care program. House Bill passed its first two committees unanimously. Senate Bill yet to be placed on assigned committee agenda.
SB 86 – Student Financial Aid
Requires the Board of Governors and the State Board of Education to each approve a list of career certificate, undergraduate and graduate agree program that “lead directly to employment.” Students choosing a major in something other than the approved list will have Bright Futures funding cut off after 60 credit hours. Bill passed the Senate Education Committee 5-4, down party line.
SB 2012/ HB 1475 – Sex-Specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports
Bills would ban any transgender girl from competing in designated athletic teams or sports if not the girl’s biological sex. Senate Bill 2012 would allow transgender girls to compete only if they comply with Olympic testosterone levels. House Bill passed its first committee down party line.
SB 188/HB 551 – Solar Energy System on Property of an Educational Facility
Bill would make it easier for schools to use solar power. Prohibits costs associated with systems from being included in calculations of total cost per student station for purposes of limits imposed on cost. SB 188 passed its first committee unanimously. House Bill has yet to be placed on the agenda of its first committee.
Contact Advocacy and Legislation Committee if you are interested to be involved directly in Advocacy and Legislation on the County Council level @