Updated: Apr 25
Please find out how your representative voted and either thank them or tell them you're disappointed. If they aren't voting YOUR values, please vote them out when they run for re-election.
1. HB 1259 is on the Special Order Calendar for Tuesday, 4/25/23.
HB 1259 / SB 1328 would give more taxpayer funded capital outlay funds to charter schools at the expense of public neighborhood schools which double as hurricane shelters. As Former Senate President Gaetz’ stated and was quoted in a 2016 Miami Herald interview, it is “time to end the self-dealing.” Excerpt from this article: "Those leases, paid for by tax dollars that go to the charter schools, allow the related private corporation that owns the school building to reap enormous profit." Assets purchased with tax dollars should stay within the public school system! Before the state legislature gives any more capital outlay funding to charter schools, the legislature needs to strengthen f.s. 1013.62(5). Here's a suggestion:
1. Allow the school district to withhold distributions of the capital outlay funds until the charter contract stipulates how the capital outlay funds and the assets they purchase can be recouped if the charter school closes 2. Allow the school board to deny new charter applications if 100% of the tax for capital outlay funds and the assets they purchase can’t be recouped by the school district if the charter school closes or the building is sold. 3. Eliminate the provision in f.s. 1013.62(4) that allows capital outlay funds to be used for lease payments unless there is a stipulation that if the building/asset is sold, the tax contribution will be returned to the school district.
HB 1259 seeks to force local school districts to give part of the 1.5 millage levy to charter schools on a per student basis. We were told that charter schools could do it cheaper, but they continue to ask for more and more of our tax dollars:
1.Several years ago, a deal was struck allowing that ,if charter school capital needs were adequately funded from state revenue (PECO funds, or Public Education Capital Outlay), public schools would not be required to share the local capital outlay revenue from their discretionary 1.5 millage levy. Since then, virtually all K-12 PECO funds have gone to charter schools. You can find how much PECO funds were given to each charter school by going to the FLDOE website: http://www.fldoe.org/finance/fco/charter-school-capital-outlay/ 2. The legislature forced us to give our local sales surtax dollars meant for neighborhood schools to charter schools on a per student basis in 2020 with HB 7097--see the wording beginning on line 1291: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/7097/BillText/er/PDF 3. HB 7069 —2017 forced local school boards to share our property taxes with charter schools if we wanted to raise local taxes to renovate our school buildings. See tthe wording beginning on line 3866: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/7069/BillText/er/PDF
2. House Bill 931: Bill added to Special Order Calendar (4/25/2023)
House Bill 931 forbids certain considerations when hiring faculty or staff--apparently an attack on efforts to achieve a diverse faculty.
House Bill 931 is wasteful in that it spends taxpayer dollars on an Office of Public Policy Events (controlled by the Governor?) to monitor events, when the state’s campuses already have a wide variety of campus events representing diverse points of view. This bill promotes false equivalence by requiring opposing views (we don't need to require that flat earthers get a public forum at taxpayer expense as if their position is as valid as the round earth proponents).
The Board of Governors will create and require each state university to conduct an annual survey which some fear will be used as a witch hunt.
The bill is vague since it calls for accepting diverse perspectives but offers no examples and diverse perspectives are already part of the available curriculum at Florida’s universities and colleges. Lawmakers must reject this legislation!
3. House Bill 1403: Bill added to Special Order Calendar (4/25/2023) House Bill 1403 would allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny a patient care on the basis of religious, moral, or ethical beliefs. It creates a license to discriminate by allowing healthcare employers to discriminate in hiring, and it bars medical Boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation. It prioritizes personal beliefs over patient well-being. The bill appears to allow discrimination by health care providers based upon religious and other beliefs. The bill indicates that objections to service on behalf of the health care provider can be documented in the patient’s medical file. Health care should be available to all! Although it isn't a right guaranteed in our state Constitution like free high quality public education and privacy, don't you agree it should be a right for all the citizens of Florida? Certainly the government shouldn't intrude by making laws that make that right less available to all the citizens of Florida. I object to this bill because I believe it will reduce the availability of health services. At the very least, conscience-based objections on the part of health care providers will result in adding confusion and delays in the scheduling of services. Lawmakers must reject this legislation!
4. House Bill 1191: Bill added to Special Order Calendar (4/25/2023)
House Bill 1191 would authorize the Florida Department of Transportation to undertake “demonstration projects” using phosphogypsum in road construction while ordering a fast-tracked study on the suitability of the product as a construction material. The bills would also deregulate phosphogypsum as a solid waste under some circumstances. Decades of science show that phosphogypsum poses a substantial risk to humans and the environment. An expert consultant for the Environmental Protection Agency found numerous scenarios that would expose the public — particularly road-construction workers — to a cancer risk the agency considers to be unacceptably dangerous. The agency has also found that the use of phosphogypsum in roads may cause adverse effects to nearby surface and groundwater resources through leaching of trace metals and radionuclides. These toxins may also be resuspended into the air by wind and vehicular traffic. Last September Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction across southwest Florida, demolishing roads and collapsing bridges along its path. The destruction highlighted the danger of proposals to use toxic, radioactive phosphogypsum waste in road construction, which could be unearthed and expose communities and the environment to harm. As climate change drives storms of increasing intensity, Florida faces escalating risks of similar destruction in the future. The EPA has long prohibited use of phosphogypsum in roads because it contains uranium and radium that produce radionuclides linked to higher risks of cancer and genetic damage. But for several years, the fertilizer industry has pushed lawmakers to allow it. Lawmakers must reject this legislation!