HB 999 cleared the House Education & Employment Committee

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A controversial bill that makes a series of higher education changes is close to passing the Florida Legislature. It advanced through the House Education & Employment Committee today.

HB 999 would prevent state colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. It would also direct the state university system’s Board of Governors to “periodically review the mission” of each school, including its academic programs. But many students, faculty, and others are strongly opposed to this bill.

Democrat Patricia Williams voted against the bill. “If we are listening to the people that voted for us, we will not be voting on 999 as of today. Because out of all of the ones that came up again not one of them said this is something we want. As we continue down this road, things will get a lot worse before it gets better. Florida is becoming the laughing stock of the world. Because we want everybody to think in this little box and we are all individual people, we all have history.”

Rights groups are concerned that the bill would chill and censor speech on campuses, including analysis of racism. But Republicans on the committee, like Fabián Basabe are not concerned about that the bill would do that. “We’ve done so much to do this, to protect our diversity, to celebrate our diversity, and I think the notion of systemic racism does lend itself an opportunity to start addressing the systemic entitlement.”

HB 999 cleared this committee on a vote of 14 to 5.

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