Amended immigration tuition bill ready for House vote

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The bill allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Florida universities and colleges could reach the full House by Thursday, but with significant changes.

In a last minute amendment on Wednesday, HB 851 will now only cover undocumented students who spent a minimum of four consecutive years in Florida schools before graduation. The original language had a three-year timeframe.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said the changes were required to provide the bill better chances of approval by the Senate.

“It gives people the confidence that someone is going to spend their entire high school years in Florida as a student prior to them getting in-state tuition,” Weatherford told reporters on Wednesday.

The move didn’t sit well with Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.

“The GOP’s vote will make it harder for countless Dreamers to earn an education and get into the middle class,” Tant said in a statement.

“Florida’s Dreamers deserve action, not pathetic political pandering,”

The legislation will still have a fight in the Senate; a similar bill passed its Senate committee by a single vote, with a majority of Republicans on the committee voting against it.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.