Bush's plan to lower class size goal struggles
Today is Day 46 of the 60-day session of the Florida Legislature.
Published April 22, 2005
Gov. Jeb Bush's proposal to ease the state's constitutional limit on class sizes is struggling in the Senate amid some opposition in the Republican ranks.
"It does have its problems," Senate President Tom Lee said Thursday.
The governor's idea, which would ultimately need voter approval, would allow school districts to comply with the limits based on a districtwide average of student numbers in each classroom, rather than requiring each classroom to comply.
The limits, which voters approved in 2002, say that by 2008 there can be no more than 18 children per classroom in kindergarten through third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth grades and 25 in high school.
This year Bush proposed to ask voters to allow a district average and promised a minimum salary of $35,000 for teachers. His proposal requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber. If just a few Senate Republicans join Democrats in opposing it (CS-SJR 2090), the measure could be defeated.
Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, said he's a definite no vote. Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, told reporters after a meeting of the Education Appropriations Committee that he's leaning toward the opposition.
Lee, R-Brandon, later said the committee would probably approve the measure next week.
Extracurricular activities bill going to governor
Without discussion, the Senate gave final passage to a bill requiring high school students to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to participate in any extracurricular activity.
Students falling short of that GPA would not be able to travel with a team, band or club, but could attend athletic, social and academic functions as well as tutoring sessions and take part in community service projects.
The bill (HB 149) also applies to charter school and home-schooled students and would take effect Oct. 1. It was passed by the House two weeks ago.
It needs the signature of Gov. Jeb Bush to become law. "It's one of those bills we'll have to review when it gets to the governor's desk," said Alia Faraj, Bush's spokeswoman.
Athletes have long been confronted with the 2.0 requirement in Florida.
Final vote nears for raising minimum wage
A bill that will establish a new state minimum wage of $6.15 in less than two weeks moved forward in the House, getting in line for a final vote.
The legislation (HB 1709) includes details for creating a state minimum wage a dollar above the federal minimum.
Voters passed a constitutional amendment for the higher minimum wage in November. The measure specified the wage would take effect in six months and would increase each year to keep up with inflation.
Election Day was Nov. 2; the six-month mark comes May 2.
A companion Senate bill (CS-SB 2638) is awaiting a vote in Senate Judiciary Committee.
PORTABLE TOILETS: A bill requiring portable restroom contractors to register with the Department of Health was passed 39-0 Thursday in the Senate. The proposal (SB 626) creates administrative penalties and fines for failing to comply with state rules. A House companion (HB 333) is awaiting floor debate.
HURRICANE HUSTLERS: Anyone attempting to sell goods or services without an occupational license during a declared state of emergency could face second-degree misdemeanor sanctions under a bill passed 38-0 Thursday in the Senate. A similar House bill is ready for floor debate.
For information about legislation, call 1-800-342-1827 toll-free or (850) 488-4371 during business hours.
The Legislature's official Web site: www.leg.state.fl.us
[Last modified April 22, 2005, 00:43:11]
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