As is typical in the legislative process, our bill has seen its triumphs and failures. Over the last few weeks, the House version of the bill sailed through all of its committees and passed unanimously on the floor of the House of Representatives.
On the Senate side, we saw a much slower trajectory. The Senate bill was not put on the agenda in its second committee, the Education Appropriations Committee (Sen. Gaetz, Chair), and today was the last time this committee will meet for the 2016 legislative session. This would have essentially killed the bill in the Senate. Gary Lieffers, our lobbyist, did find out that Sen. Gaetz did not have any opposition to our bill, but he could not get it on the agenda with all the other bills that were scheduled.
Terri Schisler, FRID's Interpreter Regulation Committee Chair, gave the following report:
As I have learned from Gary [FRID/FAD Lobbyist] over the years, there are some options that can be considered in this situation.
This week Gary has single handedly arranged for our bill to have a second life. There are agreements from both sides to have our bill added (amendment) to another bill that is similar (SB432/HB189, Sen. Hutson/Rep Diaz). All sponsors have agreed and both sides have agreed to pass the bill when it comes up for a vote again. Below is the schedule of events as we expect them to happen.
- Senate Appropriations committee, Thurs, 2/25, 10:00 am - CS/SB 432, Sen. Hutson's bill will be heard in its final committee. It is expected to pass without any issues.
- Senate Floor, Wed, 3/2 - Fri. 3/4, 10:00 am - CS/SB 432 will be heard for its second reading. At that time, Sen. Hutson will ask for an amendment to insert our educational interpreter bill language. If it passes, it will come back for a third reading (possibly the following day). When it passes the third reading, it will be sent back to the House.
- House Floor, Tues. 3/1 - Fri, 3/4, 10:30 am - CS/HB 189 has already passed in the House. Once the Senate bill has its third reading, the House will have to make the same amendment in order for both bills to match. This may take one day to amend it and another day for a final reading.
The following week is the final week of Session, ending on Friday, 3/11. We want our bill to be completed on both sides by 3/4 to avoid the chaos in the final week.
We were very fortunate that there was a bill that is similar in scope that we could ask for an amendment. We were also fortunate that the bill was sponsored by someone who would be open to that amendment. Sen. Hutson's district includes FSDB. It seems this bill has had fortune on its side. Keep your fingers crossed and tune in to see everything happening.
We all certainly hope that fortune is indeed on our side. Look for more updates coming your way and start rooting for SB432 and HB189!