HEF, the Home Education Foundation, is the only lobbying group in Florida that stays on top of legislative actions that may affect our right to home educate in Florida. Their tireless work is funded solely through donations.
2016 Florida Homeschool Legislative Update: Governor’s Bill Action
By Brenda Dickinson, HEF President
Although Session is over HEF is still working and watching the bills passed during Session by the Legislature. The bills which made it through both Chambers are slowly making their way to the Governor’s desk.
Everyday HEF is watching the Governor’s page to see what bills he is receiving and signing. You can too at:http://www.flgov.com/ Click the link on the right sidebar titled “2016 Bill Actions.” This document shows when he received a bill and the date he has to make a decision about signing, not signing or vetoing the bill. Not all the bills passed by the Legislature has reached his desk yet. So, HEF will keep you posted when he makes a decision on a bill which may affect you or your home educated child.
Below is a summary of the 2016 bills which the Governor has signed into law.
The Gardiner Scholarship Program (SB 672) (Became law on 1-21-16)
- Expand the disabilities included in the program to include high-risk 3- and 4- year old children and those with muscular dystrophy.
- Expands the definition of autism to autism spectrum disorder as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
- Increases the funding for this program from $53.4 million in 2015-16 to $73.3 million in 2016-17 to accommodate the potential increase in students participating in the program.
- Creates The Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program and Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities. The purpose is to increase independent living, inclusive and experiential postsecondary education, and employment opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities through degree, certificate, or non-degree programs and to establish statewide coordination of the dissemination of information regarding programs and services for students with disabilities. It is the intent of the Legislature that students with intellectual disabilities and students with disabilities have access to meaningful postsecondary education credentials and be afforded the opportunity to have a meaningful campus experience.
Bright Futures Scholarships (HB 793) (Became law on 3-24-16)
- Creates the Florida Gold Seal CAPE Scholars award as an alternative to the current Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars award. A student may qualify for the Florida Gold Seal CAPE Scholars award if he or she meets the general eligibility requirements for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program and earns a minimum of five postsecondary credits through CAPE industry certifications which articulate for college credit.
- Provides a maximum of 100% award for the number of credit hours or clock hours required to complete certain technical degrees.
- Equalizes the Medallion Scholarship ACT/SAT scores for all students, including home education students, at 1170 SAT and 26 ACT. Eliminates the higher test score of !220 SAT or 27 ACT for home education students whose parents cannot document that the 16 required courses were taken in a public or private school.
- Modifies the initial eligibility period for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program for students who are unable to accept an award due to full-time religious or service obligations lasting at least 18 months. Eligible students can defer the 2-year initial award period and the 5-year renewal period until the student completes the religious or service obligation. The organization sponsoring the full-time religious or service obligation must be a federal government service organization or satisfy the Internal Revenue Code’s requirements for nonprofit status.
- Modifies student community service work requirements for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program awards to include an internship with a business or government agency, employment with a nonprofit community service organization, or an activity on behalf of a candidate for public office.
Stay tuned. More to come. Also check the HEF Facebook page for information and updates.