“Maybe the most meaningful thing I’ve done in the Legislature.”
Those were the words today of state Senator Jack Latvala after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law legislation that offers in-state college tuition rates to undocumented students who had attended a Florida school for at least three years before graduation.
For Latvala to say that passing this bill is maybe the most meaningful act of his distinguished legislative career speaks to the importance of the legislation.
Yet Gov. Scott signed the bill in private this morning, meaning there was no signing ceremony for HB 851.
No photos of Latvala, Speaker Will Weatherford, Rep. Jeannette Nunez, and other legislators standing behind Scott sitting as his desk, signing the bill into law.
No press conference. No handshakes. No ceremonial pens.
No opportunity for the DREAMers who lobbied for this bill to celebrate their victory.
What, was someone embarrassed of being inclusive.
Perhaps Scott did not want to appear as if was politicizing a sensitive issue. Or perhaps he did not want to draw too much attention to him signing a bill thath his Tea Party base vehemently opposes (as explained in this earlier blog post.)
Or, maybe, Scott is playing both sides of the street here. For the TV commercials and for Cuban-American voters in Miami-Dade, he has signed the bill. But, so as to not incense his conservative allies, he did it under cover of Monday morning fog.
Regardless, that is not what THIS bill deserved. This is not what its supporters deserved … supporters which include House Speaker Will Weatherford.
This bill, after all, is part of Speaker Weatherford’s legacy. This is one of goals he accomplished that other legislative leaders, including Marco Rubio, did not.
I imagine Weatherford would have welcomed a public signing ceremony for this legislation. Just as the Governor did for the Florida GI bill or the rollback of auto tag fees or legislation targeting child predators.
This was one of those times for when pomp and circumstance was warranted.