State Politics

Vets to get ed benefits on time

TALLAHASSEE — The new GI Bill program from military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq is running more smoothly in Florida after a shaky start.

The redesigned program, now called the Post-9/11 GI Bill, got off to a wobbly beginning last fall when intended recipients often waited months for their checks and schools had to wait for tuition and fees payment from the federal government.

Most of those early glitches are now been resolved, an array of representatives from Florida’s private and public colleges and officials reported Thursday during a two-hour hearing held by the Senate Higher Education Committee.

House passes election law changes

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House passed a bill to restore and fix a stricken law that unconstitutionally limited political speech.

The former “electioneering” law required nonpolitical organizations to register with the state if they did so much as mention a candidate or issue.

The bill (HB 1207) passed on a 73-42 party line vote Thursday due to another provision that restores campaign funds controlled by legislative leaders.

Republicans voted for it, and Democrats opposed it.

The bill next goes to the Senate.

Referendum on federal budget moves toward ballot

TALLAHASSEE — Florida voters soon may have an opportunity to tell Washington what they think about the growth of budget deficits.

The Senate has passed a bill (SB 2742) that would place on the November ballot a nonbinding referendum. Voters would be asked if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes.

Called an “advisory referendum,” the procedure allows voters to express their views without requiring a legislature to act.

The Senate passed it Thursday on a 26-13 party-line vote. The measure still has to be taken up by the House.

House passes bill to require civics classes

TALLAHASSEE — Middle school students would be required to take a civics class and pass an end-of-course test under a bill that has passed in the Florida House.

The vote was unanimous Thursday for the bill (HB 105) that next goes to the Senate.

Students would have to pass the final exam to be promoted to high school.

Lawmakers said the requirement is needed because many citizens don’t know the difference between a state legislator and member of Congress or even who is president.

— Associated Press