5/4/2018: Florida Politics; Money For Arming Schools; School Funding Lawsuit

May 4, 2018

Florida Politics

The Sunshine Summit is an annual conference for Florida Republicans, and this summer one of the invited speakers is Dinesh D’Souza, is a convicted felon and conservative firebrand who mocked Marjory Stoneman Douglas students on Twitter. He later apologized.

Gov. Rick Scott and incoming Senate President Bill Galvano have criticized the GOP invitation to D’Souza.

The Republican Party has responded to the criticism by adding a speaker who’s been critical of D’Souza. Matt Schlapp is chair of the American Conservative Union.

Meanwhile, this week brought another special election in Florida. Democrat Javier Fernandez beat Republican Andrew Vargas in U.S. House District 114, which covers part of Miami-Dade County.

It’s the fourth time since President Trump was elected that a Democrat has claimed a closely watched victory in Florida.

In the midst of this “blue wave” by Democrats, former Congressman Alan Grayson says he wants his old job back. Grayson says he will challenge incumbent Darren Soto in the Democratic primary for Florida’s Ninth Congressional District in Orlando. Soto won the seat in 2016 when Grayson ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

Money For Arming Schools

Florida’s public schools are trying to figure out how to keep their campuses safe and how to pay for it. After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February, lawmakers passed a comprehensive safety bill that contains $400 million, some of it for arming people at schools.

Before they passed the law, lawmakers heard from sheriffs and superintendents that the proposed money wasn’t enough. And now, the funding is falling short of what districts need in order to add an armed officer on every campus.

Some districts are employing “guardian programs” as a workaround, meaning staff members are being trained to carry weapons on campus instead of having an armed guard.

The Hendry County School District is among those that have already taken steps to arm staff members.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office will run the program. Selected staff members — not including teachers — will be trained and allowed to carry concealed weapons at school.

School Funding Lawsuit

The Florida Supreme Court has finally agreed to take up the question of whether

state lawmakers are adequately funding public education. The state constitution guarantees “a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high-quality system” of free public schools.

A group of parents first sued the state over what they saw as a failure, based on factors like racial inequities in student achievement and the fact that so many students fail end-of-year assessments, back in 2009.

A trial court and an appeals court ruled that judges can’t create education policy before the state’s highest court agreed to consider whether the Florida Legislature isn’t fulfilling its duty to adequately fund public education.

A court date hasn’t been announced.