Crunch time for Florida lawmakers as 2023 legislative session comes to an end

Reporter: Kellie Miller
Published: Updated:

Florida legislators have until Friday to pass a final round of bills before the 60-day legislative session comes to an end. 

In a typical session, thousands of bills are filed, but just a small portion are signed into law. About 1,800 bills have been filed so far, and about 300 have passed both chambers.

Lawmakers on Thursday approved two bills that will impact education in Florida. The first one requires schools to push back start times. According to House Bill 733, middle schoolers can start no earlier than 8 a.m., and high schoolers no earlier than 8:30 a.m. If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, it would not be enforced until 2026.

The next one creates a year-round school pilot program. According to House Bill 891, the Department of Education would select five school districts to take part. If signed into law, the pilot program would kick off in the 2024-2025 school year.

Of course, not every single remaining bill will even make it to a vote. But as Aubrey Jewett, a professor in the political science department at the University of Central Florida explained, there is one we can all count on.

“By far the biggest bill that we’re waiting to see passed is the budget, and that’s usually done right towards the end of the session,” Jewett said. “In fact, it is the only thing in the Florida constitution that the legislature is required to do. They must pass a budget each year according to the Florida constitution, and that has big big impacts on the every day life of people who live here in Florida.”

If lawmakers don’t pass a budget within the allotted time, they either have to extend session or the governor calls for a special session. 

“Governor DeSantis, over the past few years, has called a number of special sessions to address issues that he thought were important and couldn’t wait for the next legislative session,” Jewett said. “So although the legislature is finishing its regular business right now, it will be interesting to see over the next few months, or by the end of the year, if we end up having any more special sessions, to address issues that come up.”

On Friday, the House and Senate should adjourn. However, a lot will be going on behind the scenes. Jewett explained that lawmakers have weeks to send passed bills to the governor, who will decide to sign or veto. 

“Once the session closes, then bills will be sent to the governor, and the governor will decide whether to sign or veto them,” Jewett said. “And for the bills that do become law with the governor’s signature, we just wait for them to go into effect. Some will go into effect immediately. Others not until later. July 1 is a very common date for bills to become law and actually go into effect.”

If you are interested in tracking which bills Governor Ron DeSantis has signed so far, you can visit the Florida Senate’s website.

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