Education Part Of A Baker's Dozen of Bills, On the House

Mar 27, 2015

The Florida House of Representatives cleared out several proposals Friday, sending them to the senate.

Credit Florida House

Out of the thirteen bills discussed on the house floor Friday morning, the most controversial dealt with penalties for class sizes.

House Minority Leader Mark Pafford (D- West Palm Beach) claimed lowering penalties using classroom averages instead of exact numbers gives way to overstuffed classrooms.

“This basically removes a penalty and permits schools to continue to create classes that work outside of what the constitutional amendment required,” Pafford said.

But Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D- Broward), says the problem with oversized classrooms isn’t solved by throwing fines at it.

“To think that we solve this problem by giving more moneys in penalties and sending it out of our county just doesn’t make sense to me,” Jacobs said. “It’s one of the main reasons why I am supporting this good bill.”

That measure passed the house vote with only three “nays.”

In fact, most of the bills had to do with Florida’s schools. Also of note were bills pertaining to school uniforms, school choice and school administration.

The runner-up for “most argued over” was a bill concerning the manufacture of American flags on American soil. Rep. John Tobia (R- Brevard) opposed the bill, calling it anti-capitalist.

“Let me tell you what the flag does not stand for: Anti-government, anti-competitive practices. Government mandates, and wasteful spending for tax dollars,” Tobia said. “So what I ask you to do is support capitalism, support America, and do not support this bill.”

But fellow Rep. Dane Eagle (R- Lee) sees the bill as a patriotic duty.

“We need to honor their memory,” Eagle said. “They have died for this country, and we are flying flags over this government building that are not made in this country. Vote for this good bill. Yes, it might be considered a mandate, but this is a mandate that honors our fallen heroes. Thank you.”

Eagle’s case won over the house in the end, and the measure passed with only two “nays.”

Animal welfare was also a popular topic. A measure would make improvements to Florida’s existing Service Animal regulations, as well as a bill addressing how racing animals are medicated. The latter, was presented to the house for vote by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R- Lee), but not without an attempt to lighten the mood.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d just like to thank my co-sponsor, Representative Stone, and ask for your unbridled support for this bill.”

Fitzenhagen garnered a couple of groans for that.

Thirteen bills made their way to the senate, and the house plans to take up more on April 1st.