Senator Joe Negron’s procedural move to block legislation that would offer a tuition break to undocumented is not sitting well with the sponsor of the bill, Senator Jack Latvala.
“I was shocked,” Latvala said in a phone interview on Friday.
Negron stated on Thursday that he would not agenda SB 1400 during next week’s meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The move makes it unlikely the bill will be considered since the annual session ends in early May.
Negron said that a need for the in-state tuition break “has not been established” and he raised questions on its potential costs.
Negron’s maneuver — along with a public vote of no-confidence by Senate President Don Gaetz — is not just an affront to Governor Rick Scott and Speaker Will Weatherford, who support the proposal. Latvala said it is also a an insult to Florida’s leading Republican, Jeb Bush.
“What he has done is a slap in the face to our governor, who’s already announced support for this bill,” Latvala said. “And it’s a slap in the face for the speaker who put a lot on the line. It’s a slap in the face to Jeb Bush who had been taking fire from right wing Republicans across the country because he spoke of his convictions on immigration.”
Weatherford said he was not giving up yet that the legislation could be passed. It cleared the Florida House by an 81-33 vote.
“There are a lot of folks praying for these kids,” Weatherford said. “Two weeks is a long time and I remain optimistic.”
The Senate bill (SB 1400) would offer the tuition break to anyone who had attended a Florida high school for three years prior to graduation. The legislation would also require any student seeking the tuition break to show proof that they had applied for citizenship.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.