The Florida Legislative session of 2023 has just concluded. It began on March 7th and ended on May 5th. Baruch Hashem, we are extremely grateful with the results of this year's session. There were some major wins for the Orthodox Jewish community in Florida. Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights:
Universal School Choice
The biggest win of this session was the passage of HB1. This bill created the largest Education Savings Account program in the country. Starting this upcoming school year, all students from K-12 attending a Florida private school will be eligible to receive an education savings account of approximately $8,000 that can be used towards tuition as well as other educational expenses. With no income eligibility required, this is a true universal scholarship program.
Enrollment is currently open, and we recommend everyone sign up as soon as possible. If you have not enrolled yet, you can do so by clicking on the link below.
If you have any questions or need help, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are happy to help.
Another very positive bill that was drafted this year, and passed overwhelmingly both the House and Senate, was the Public Nuisance Bill. This new legislation is aimed at fighting the rise of antisemitism and hate crimes across the state. The bill increases the penalty on hate crimes, creates new prohibitions on projecting laser hate images on buildings, and other deterrences to individuals from acting in a hateful way against religious people.
Agudath Israel of Florida testified at one of the senate committee hearings for this bill, as well as arranged for the community to send emails to the legislators encouraging them to vote for the passage of the bill. We are thankful to everyone who helped in this cause, and especially grateful to Rep Mike Caruso and Senator Alexis Calatayud who spearheaded the bill.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law during his recent trip to Israel.
Security Grant For Non Profits
SB 1480 was another proposal that will be incredibly helpful for the Jewish Orthodox Community. This bill provides safety grants for nonprofit organizations. The bill passed both the house and the Senate, and is currently waiting the governors signature.
In this year's budget, no money was allocated to fund this bill, but in our conversation with the bill sponsor, we were assured that next year funding will be made available. The purpose of the bill was to create the groundwork so that in future years non profits can apply for security grants.
B'ezras Hashem, if everything works out, shuls and non-profits will be eligible to receive up to $150,000 in a grant for security expenses.
Aside from the the above three bills, this year's session produced lots of new legislation; much more than usual. It was an extremely productive session, with a Republican led chamber passing lots of new laws. Governor DeSantis said, "I don't think we've seen a six month stretch that has ever been this productive in the history of our state."
Stay tuned for further emails from Agudath Israel, as we will be sharing a few more bills that will directly impact our community and will be beneficial for you to know about.
Rabbi Moshe Matz
Rabbi Avrohom Luban
Agudath Israel of America | 42 Broadway 14th floor, New York, NY 10004