The suit contends that the massive 274-page education bill violates the “single subject” rule, which states that bills must cover only a single subject matter.
PANAMA CITY — Nine school districts across the state, including Bay District Schools, have filed a second lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the controversial education bill HB 7069 passed last legislative session.
This suit, entered late Monday, was filed directly with the Florida Supreme Court. It names House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and officials with the state’s Department of Education as defendants and contends that the massive 274-page bill violates the “single subject” rule, which states that bills must cover only a single subject matter.
School Board Attorney Franklin Harrison, whose law firm Harrison Sale McCloy is doing much of the work for the lawsuit pro bono, said the bill amends more than 70 provisions of school codes, ranging from recess time to funding new school construction. He said the bill, which was passed on the last day of the legislative session, is a “classic example” of “logrolling” — or combining smaller bills, some of which were voted down in committee, and rolling them into a larger bill.
A legal challenge to the bill already has been filed in Leon County Circuit Court by 14 school districts. Harrison said this new challenge will run concurrently with the suit in the lower court and will put the challenge immediately in front of Supreme Court justices, who through appeals would have seen the argument anyway eventually and who also have the power to take immediate action against the bill if warranted.
“There’s going to be lots of in-the-trenches fighting,” Harrison said.
Alachua, Broward, Hamilton, Lee, Polk, St. Lucie, Volusia and Wakulla counties also have signed on to this most recent legal challenge.
Harrison called HB 7069 a “monumental shift” in education policy by the legislature and said his firm, and the school district, are fighting to protect the school board’s local authority over education.
“We’re trying to preserve what school districts have always been able to do,” he said. “If the legislature can do what they did in that law, then they are in charge and the local school board don’t have a hell of a lot to do.”