Legg, lawmakers build path to collegiate high schools

High schools have come a long way in preparing students for schools, with Florida especially hanging its hat on dual enrollment opportunities that allow many juniors and seniors to earn college credit before receiving their high school diploma.

John Legg

John Legg

State Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, is celebrating a new law signed last week by Gov. Rick Scott that would expand those opportunities into collegiate high schools.

“Finally, every student in each of Florida’s 67 school districts is afforded the opportunity for advancement through a collegiate high school, and is more adequately prepared for their future careers,” Legg said, in a release.

S.B. 850, according to a committee analysis, requires districts to provide a pathway for high school students to earn a full year of college credit with funding and acceleration programs to offer 30 credit hours to juniors and seniors.

The collegiate high schools would be a joint venture between a school district and a nearby college or university. School districts can look beyond local universities if they both can’t come to an agreement by the 2015-16 school year.

Scott signed 57 bills into law last Friday, including these from local lawmakers:

S.B. 424 – Discriminatory Insurance Practices
Originally introduced by state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, this law makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny someone coverage, or raise their rates, based on their ownership of a firearm.

It doesn’t stop the insurance company, however, from issuing a separate rider to a policy that would specifically insure a gun. But it does prevent insurance companies from disclosing information about a gun ownership to others, especially third-party vendors.

The bill passed the Senate 36-3 in March, but had a little more opposition in the House in April, passing 74-44. Those voting against it included local lawmakers Rep. Mark Danish and Rep. Janet Cruz, both Democrats.

H.B. 513 – State Poet Laureate
Florida has had various poet laureates over the last 100 years, but a new law originally introduced by Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, will now make the position official.

The Florida Council on Arts and Culture will submit at least five nominees to the Florida secretary of state, each of whom are permanent Florida residents known for their poetry both inside and outside the state.

The secretary of state, in turn, will pare the list down to three, and submit those names to the governor, who makes the final decision.

The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously last April.

H.B. 523 – Licensure to Carry a Concealed Weapon or Firearm
This law allows county tax collectors to administer fingerprints and accept applications for those seeking a concealed weapon permit.

Tax collectors wanting to participate would have to apply to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but would be able to tack on a $22 convenience fee on top of the standard $70 initial permit application, and a $12 convenience fee for a $60 renewal.

The law also budgets $736,600 to create and maintain 11 new positions with the agriculture department, and a $105,500 one-time payout. It’s related to H.B. 525, which exempts personal information of gun owners from public records laws, which also was signed by the governor.

The bill sailed through the Senate, but had a couple bumps in the House, where it passed 94-22. Cruz was among those local lawmakers who voted against it.

H.B. 7035 – Juvenile Sentencing
Originally introduced by state Rep. James Grant, this law addresses the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case Graham v. Florida that said the Constitution prevents courts from sentencing juvenile offenders who did not commit a murder to life.

After the decision, several past cases were brought back to courts for re-sentencing, where many had prison time drastically reduced.

This law gives judges an option to sentence a juvenile offender to 40 years instead of life, if he feels it’s appropriate. It also provides the chance for someone convicted of a capital crime while a juvenile to have his sentence reviewed after 25 years.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously in April and May.

Published June 25, 2014

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