A Northeast Florida state senator has filed a proposal that would require high-school students to take financial-literacy courses in honor of the late state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who died this year after battling cancer.
Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, filed Senate Bill 114 on November 30 for consideration during the 2019 legislative session, which kicks off in March.
“It’s something she’s been working on for four years now. Financial literacy was very important to her,” Hutson said. “I decided to, with her passing, to take it on as an initiative because it’s important to me too. And she was very important to me and close to me.”
Students going into ninth grade starting in fall of 2019 would be required to earn one-half credit in personal financial literacy and money management. Courses would include topics like balancing checkbooks, completing loan applications and calculating interest rates.
Hutson said he wants to bulk up a current requirement for students to learn a small bit of financial literacy.
“It could be done through their basic civics, their basic math, their basic history, for like a week,” Hutson said. “We’re changing that requirement. They will go through an actual semester of full-blown financial literacy.”
He said many of the teachers he’s spoken to love the idea.
“They think it’s very important,” he said. “The one concern is you’re taking out a half of an elective and making a mandate or a requirement. Some of them want it to be more optional. But that’s not something Dorothy believed in and it’s not something I believe in. I think that everybody should go through this.”
Hutson said he and Hukill were good friends and office neighbors. He and the Port Orange Republican also sat next to each other on the Senate floor. Hukill died of cervical cancer in October.
“It was a tough time hearing about her and tough time going to share the stories and memories with the family,” Hutson said. “But we’re trying to move on and hopefully get this done and it will be a pretty emotional day should it pass both chambers.”
State Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, a former aide to Hukill, filed the companion bill, House Bill 73. Fetterhoff, a DeLand Republican, was elected to the House in November.
The House version is her first bill.
Hutson said he’s optimistic because Hukill’s original bill passed the Senate unanimously.
“We sent it over to the House and it just didn’t make it, so we’re hoping to get it done this year,” he said.
He believes there’s still widespread bipartisan support in the Senate.
“I already have good cosponsors on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “I think the House is where we’re going to have to do some more educating and see if we can get it across on that side.”
Both proposals have been named the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act.