- The Florida Legislature is wrapping up its regular session today, with several bills still awaiting the governor’s signature.
- Education and healthcare dominate the final day’s agenda, with bills passing related to school expansion, start times, year-round school, instructional materials, and prescription drug costs.
- Lawmakers are also expected to approve a $116 billion budget on Friday afternoon.
(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature is nearing the end of its regular session and there are still several items still left on the agenda while other bills await the governor’s signature.
As the last day of the regular session approaches this Friday, the Senate has 23 bills on the agenda, all scheduled for third readings and are largely related to education and healthcare.
Education was a big part of the Legislature’s agenda this session, with several new laws already coming into effect, including the massive school expansion bill House Bill 1. The following measures expand on several areas in education.
HB 1259 is an education bill sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Canady, R-Lakeland, and would revise the eligibility criteria for charter schools to qualify for capital outlay funds. It also would revise how to calculate how funds are distributed to eligible charter schools, how much of those funds come from school districts, and the requirements for charter schools to use the funds.
HB 733 is sponsored by Rep. John Temple, R-The Villages, and would revise start times for middle school and high school students. The bill would ban middle schools from starting their instructional day before 8 a.m. and high schools would be prohibited from starting lessons before 8.30 a.m. This would go into effect on July 1, 2026.
HB 891 would implement a year-round school pilot program, which would begin in the 2024-25 school year in at least one elementary school and run for approximately four years. Florida schools are authorized to operate on a year-round basis but traditionally operate on a 180-day schedule. Year-round schools have shorter, staggered vacation periods and 16 public schools during the 2021-2022 school year participated in a year-round school schedule.
HB 7039 sponsored by Rep. Dana Trabulsy, R-Fort Pierce, passed its third reading on Thursday and is designed to revise instructional materials, programs and strategies for students and $158 million has been appropriated.
Health also took priority this session, including Senate Bill 1550 which will lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing customers to purchase from foreign markets. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.
HB 121 passed its third reading on Thursday and is sponsored by Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston. The bill would increase the income eligibility threshold for the Medikids program component of the Florida Kidcare Program. The measure would also increase the eligibility income threshold for the Florida Kidcare program itself. Undocumented immigrants would be excluded from being eligible.
HB 387 is sponsored by state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, would authorize qualified physicians to renew physician certifications for medical marijuana through telehealth. HB 267 is also up for its third reading and would revise the definition of telehealth.
HB 1471 would put additional protections in place for elderly residents of nursing home facilities. Nursing homes would be required to assure that each resident has the right to be free from mental and physical abuse, neglect, exploitation, corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and any types of restraints unless specified by a physician for a specific purpose.