With House Republican leaders holding up a Senate-approved bill to mandate daily recess in public elementary schools, Florida senators will attempt another route to get the proposal enacted this year.
Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, the sponsor of the Senate recess bill (SB 78), filed a sweeping amendment Wednesday morning to her measure aimed at reducing statewide standardized tests, which would drastically broaden the bill to include several other policies — including mandatory daily recess.
By attaching the recess policy to the broader bill, it gives the Senate more leverage and could force the House into considering it through negotiations. The House also views testing reforms as a top priority this session.
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In the two weeks since the Senate passed its recess bill, passionate parents have urged House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and Rules chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, to bring the Senate bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote.
But Corcoran has refused to comment on the House’s plans, and Oliva said last week “that’s certainly a possibility” but that there had been no discussion of that that he was aware of.
Parents are growing increasingly impatient and frustrated by the House’s delay and inaction — given the broad public support for mandatory daily recess and the fact a majority of lawmakers back such a law.
A similar recess bill passed the House by a near-unanimous vote last year with only Corcoran and Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, opposed. Bileca, now the House Education chairman, continues to oppose the daily mandate and has been instrumental in thwarting House consideration of the original measure.
With two-and-a-half weeks left in the scheduled 2017 session, it is now commonly the time when lawmakers take bills that were originally narrow and pile on several other different proposals linked only by the broad subject matter, in this case education.
For example, last year, an education omnibus bill became law that primarily enhanced school choice options in Florida but included multiple different policies.
This story will be updated.