Jack Latvala says a majority of Senate will co-sponsor tuition bill

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The sponsor of a measure that would extend in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants said Friday that a majority of the Senate has agreed to co-sponsor the bill (SB 1400).

Sen. Jack Latvala told reporters that he has the paperwork from 21 members in the 40-seat chamber, clearing the way for the bill to pass if it gets to the floor. “That means we have a majority of the Senate committed to supporting that bill publicly,” Latvala said.

In all, Latvala said he believes he has 26 votes for the measure.

The proposal still needs the approval of the Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate.

A similar measure (HB 851) has already passed the House.

Gov. Rick Scott has signaled he would sign the bill, but has raised concerns about a provision of the Senate version that requires undocumented students to sign affidavits saying that they have applied for or would apply for legalization. Latvala said supporters of the legislation were working to address Scott’s concerns.

“We’re fine-tuning some of the language with the governor, with the House, but we will get there,” he said.

The measure would also do away with the state’s differential tuition law for every school except the University of Florida and Florida State University. The differential tuition law allows universities to increase tuition up to 15 percent a year. Under the bill, the University of Florida and Florida State would be able to ask the Board of Governors for a 6 percent increase each year, instead of the current 15 percent hike.