2019 legislative recap: what passed, what didn’t and what’s next


Last month, the 2019 Florida Legislature came to a close, producing several new education bills that have recently been signed into law by Governor DeSantis. Here is a brief recap of the major education laws, most of which will go into effect this Monday, July 1, 2019: 

  • Anti-Semitism (HB 741): prohibits discrimination based on religion in Florida public schools; requires schools and colleges to treat anti-Semitic discrimination just like race-motivated discrimination.

  • Career Technical Education (HB 7071): allows students to replace a science graduation credit with a computer science credit; provides more apprenticeship programs; adds more career planning for students.

  • Financial literacy (HB 7071): requires school districts offer a financial literacy course as an elective.

  • Teacher certification (SB 7070): requires a school district to provide information about support and instruction to teachers who fail the General Knowledge test; extends the validity time period for temporary certificates; prohibits retake fees from being more expensive.

  • Best and the Brightest (SB 7070): eliminates SAT and ACT requirement. New three-tier structure including $4,000 recruitment bonus for content experts, retention bonus available if a teacher’s school improves three percentage points in the prior three years (teacher must work at the school for at least two years to be eligible), and principal-selected bonus.

  • Civics Education (HB 807): requires review of civics education materials and updates as necessary.

  • Budget: $91.1 billion budget that includes a $242 per-pupil increase in education spending with $75 for unrestricted spending.

  • School safety (SB 7030): allows school districts to include teachers in the school guardian program and requires 144 hours of training and psychological testing.

    -- Duval, Flagler, Volusia, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Orange, Seminole, Polk, St. Johns, Manatee, Sarasota, Nassau, Lake, and Osceola counties state they will not arm teachers

    -- $17 million for mental health

  • Schools of Hope (SB 7070): expands the program to allow charter schools to open near low-performing schools (school that earned three grades lower than a “C” in three out of the past five years) and in Opportunity Zones as designated by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury.

    -- KIPP expanding in Miami in 2019

    -- IDEA opening in Tampa in 2021

    -- The 1st District Court of Appeals heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by Florida school districts on June 11

  • Vouchers (SB 7070): expands the voucher program with a Family Empowerment Scholarship.

    -- $130 million for private school tuition for up to 18,000 low-income students (14,000 student waitlist)

    -- Families of four earning $77,000 qualify

    -- Proposed amendments by other legislators to increase accountability and protect against discrimination were struck down in committee 

    -- Similar program ruled unconstitutional in 2006 by Florida Supreme Court

Some bills failed to pass, including:

  • Charter school authorizers (HB 1197): allows charter school authorizers other than school districts.

  • Parental rights (HB 1171): creates parental “bill of rights” that establish parent authority to direct child’s education, care, and moral training as well as health care decisions.

  • School board term limits (HJR 229): proposed amendments to the State Constitution to limit school board terms to eight years.

  • Bible elective (HB 195): mandates Bible elective course in public schools.

Our big takeaway from the 2019 Legislative Session? School choice and school safety remain the biggest education priorities for Florida legislators. As we look forward to the 2020 session (January 14 – March 13), we expect charter authorizers, parental rights, school safety, and mental health to come back up, among other issues. We also expect a legal challenge to the Family Empowerment Scholarship law, with several groups already gearing up for a lawsuit. Check back with us for developments as these laws go into effect! 





of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.