While the 2019 Legislative Session formally kicked-off March 5th, members of your ACE Board of Directors’ Legislative Committee (Melanie Stefanowicz and Jeff Arnott) and the ACE office (Julie Roberts and Dave Barnes) have been busy during the month of January and February attending committee meetings and meeting with legislators; including a very informative meeting with Lt. Governor Nunez and her chief of staff. We renewed some prior relationships and developed new ones as there was a lot of turnover in both chambers this past fall. Adult education has some friends in Tallahassee.
For the first time, ACE of Florida and the Florida Association for Career and Technical Education (FACTE) are partnering on legislative issues important to both organizations. This promises to be an exciting partnership that will leverage the strengths of both organizations and pay long-term dividends down the road.
As is tradition, the Governor gave his “State of the State” speech to open the 2019 Legislative session. He had previously released his “Bold Vision for Florida” along with his record-spending budget recommendations. In particular, we will be monitoring the Governor’s recommendations and actions regarding public education and immigration.
The House and Senate generally release their budgets sometime around the third week of the session and we will be monitoring those closely as they are very informative in terms of their own priorities and of where each body is headed during the session, not to mention what their all-important funding recommendations for districts and colleges will be. This year the final budgets will be determined by the Senate.
By now you have probably heard some rumblings that have come from the House regarding one individual’s strong opinions and political rhetoric about the ESOL populations we so diligently serve every day. Please know that to date, no bills have been filed that appear to impact our programs in any way and we have been, and will continue to watch that individual and their committees closely as the session progresses for anything that would be detrimental to our programs. Also know that we have been quietly but proactively networking behind the scenes with efforts to protect our students and programs.
Now that the session has begun, we will be sending you regular updates as the session progresses. As always, stay vigilant, listen, and if you have any concerns, please contact your ACE of Florida Board of Directors representative or the ACE office immediately. We are here to help and we need your eyes and ears across the state helping us as well.
Julie Roberts, Executive Director
Dave Barnes, Advocacy and Planning Consultant
Melanie Stefanowicz, President Elect and Legislative Committee Chair
Jeff Arnott, Legislative Committee