Florida in-state tuition bill for undocumented students moves closer to final vote

04/01/14 AP
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Tags: Arthenia Joyner, immigration, tuition, Florida Senate, Jack Latvala, Tom Lee


Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa).

photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Sept. 2008).

In spite of some Republican opposition, state legislators keep moving forward with a bill that would allow qualified Florida students to pay in-state college tuition rates even if they are in the country without documentation. Senate Bill 1400 is sponsored by Republican Jack Latvala of Clearwater.

Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee a version of the bill was approved by a 7-to-2 vote. Committee chair Tom Lee of Brandon was one of two Republicans voting no.

Public comment was cut short because of scheduling conflicts, but James Calkins, who identified himself as being from the Republican Party of Northwest Florida, warned fellow Republicans to oppose the bill.

Four years ago, Republican Governor Rick Scott was in favor of tougher immigration laws, but now he favors the Senate bill.

Tampa Senator Arthenia Joyner joined all fellow Democrats in supporting it.

The Florida House has already passed the bill although there are some differences between the House and Senate bills.

"This isn't about turn out at the next election for Democrats or Republicans, this is a people issue. This is about the future of the State of Florida and the future of these young people who through no actions of their own happen to be persons residing in this state. Their parents brought them here or they were born here. Why should they be denied the same opportunity that I, as a woman who was born here, who has the benefit of in-state tuition. We cannot punish these kids. This is the day for us to do the right thing. The time has come and we need to speak up and vote today to allow all of Florida's residents the ability to get a college education and pay what others pay because they live and reside and are contributing members of this citizenry and even though there is a rule that allows universities to make the decision, that's discretionary. Today somebody supports it, next year the new administration doesn't. It's time for us to act and make it the standard by which this state is judged and this country that we treat everybody right."

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