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Politics / Issues

Parent Trigger Bill One of Many Defeats for Florida Senate Leadership

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Senate President Mike Haridopolos

A bill that would have allowed parents to replace the leadership at failing schools has failed on a 20-20 vote in the Florida Senate.

It's the latest in a string of failures for Senate President Mike Haridopolos and his conservative allies, including:

  • Prison privatization
  • Supreme Court rejection of the Senate's redistricting plan (the House was approved)
  • Sen. John Thrasher's attempted coup to become the future Senate President

The trigger bill fails despite support from former Gov. Jeb Bush and his foundation. More from the Tampa Bay Times:

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, said she filed the bill to make sure children at low-performing schools didn't have to continue "taking one for the team." But opponents said the proposal was intended to line the pockets of for-profit charter-school companies, which would have access to new business. Said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston: "The centerpiece of this legislation has nothing to do with empowering parents or giving children and parents options, or improving schools. We do all of that already. It has everything to do with laying the groundwork for the hostile corporate takeover of public schools across Florida — an attack on public education."

The Palm Beach Post had this take on the bigger Senate revolt:

So far this session, Democrats and Republicans have joined forces to kill a prison privatization plan important to Scott, blocked a controversial abortion bill from getting to the floor for a vote, and transformed a property insurance measure to force people out of state-owned Citizens in, but in a way that its sponsor said gutted the bill. This week, the Senate watered down a personal injury protection car insurance proposal -- Scott's top legislative priority -- and overrode Haridopolos and his leadership despite two attempts to undo the damage. "They've got the taste of blood," veteran lobbyist Brian Ballard said. "And when you win on big issues, then you're emboldened to take on other ones."

Senate budget chief JD Alexander may be the rare winner in the Senate leadership. He won independence for Florida Polytechnic in his home county, and millions more for one end of a road that, if completed, could benefit his property.