Florida Senate weakens parent trigger bill; floor vote likely Tuesday

April 30, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- The parent trigger bill hit the Senate floor Monday, and as expected, sparked some lively discussion.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, set the tone by immediately withdrawing the eight amendments she had filed.

"My intention is, at this point, to not even attempt to fix this bill, I consider it so hopelessly bad," Detert said.

Senators quashed three other amendments deemed "unfriendly" by Sen. Kelli Stargel, the bill's sponsor. But they approved an addition from Sen. David Simmons that would give local school boards the authority to deny parent requests to make dramatic changes at low-performing schools.

The language had already been approved by the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The upper chamber needed to add it again because senators took up the House version of the bill on Monday.

Last week, Stargel said she planned to remove the wording because it took too much power away from the parents. But doing so would have likely lost her several key votes, including Sens. Andy Gardiner and Jack Latvala.

"Sometimes with a controversial bill, you take the path of least resistance," Stargel said after Monday's floor session.

The weaker version of the bill will come up for a vote on Tuesday. "I feel confident that we'll be able to pass this bill," Stargel said.

If approved, it would have to go back to the House.

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