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Departments' merger favored

Today is the 36th day of the 60-day session.

By Associated Press
Published April 8, 2003

A proposed merger of the State and Community Affairs departments sought by Gov. Jeb Bush won the unanimous approval of the Senate's Comprehensive Planning Committee committee Monday, although some members said they had concerns.

"Why are we doing this?" asked Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood said the new arrangement would be more efficient and allow one-stop shopping for local governments by combining programs that were spread between the two agencies.

The Senate bill (CS for SBs 186 and 2528), which now goes to the Governmental Operations Committee, makes the merger effective July 1. A House version, also in committee, would be effective July 1, 2004.

Military vouchers advance

Democrats failed to derail a measure that would expand the state's school voucher program to the children of military personnel and veterans.

Before the Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee could vote on a bill that would provide tax credits to businesses that provide scholarships to children of United States active and reserve military personnel and veterans, Democrats on the panel walked out, leaving it without a quorum. But Republicans were able to round up enough senators to restore a quorum and approved the measure 5-1.

The bill (HB 805), which the House has passed, must pass three more Senate committees before going to the floor.

Class size retreat proposed

Voters would be asked next year to limit the class size ballot measure they approved in November under legislation approved by the House Education K-20 Committee.

The proposed constitutional amendment would limit the scope of the class size reduction provision in the Constitution to prekindergarten through third grade. The ballot measure approved in November applied to all grades, prekindergarten through 12th.

But before reaching voters, the ballot measure sponsored by Rep. Ken Sorensen, R-Key Largo, would need a three-fifths vote in both the 120-member House and 40-member Senate.

[Last modified April 8, 2003, 01:31:46]

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