Government nanny bill vetoed
Home School Legal Defense Association sounded the alert. Florida home schoolers called and sent e-mails. Governor Jeb Bush listened—then he vetoed an onerous bill that would have laid the foundation for transforming Florida into a "government nanny" state.
Senate Bill 1018, sponsored by Senator Ken Pruitt (R), would have created a big new government program called "Learning Gateway," resulting in systematic hospital or home visits by trained staff to new mothers.
Collaborating with the Florida Department of Children and Family Services, Learning Gateway would have screened children from birth to age 9 for biological, environmental, and behavioral risks and learning problems. Further, Learning Gateway providers would have assessed and referred families for "needed" services and developmental monitoring. This program would have saddled Florida taxpayers with huge expenses and subjected parental rights to government control.
Brenda Dickinson of the Home Education Foundation (HEF) rewrote S.B. 1018, removing the most objectionable aspects, and the Florida House voted for this good version. HSLDA supported HEF's efforts. However, the Senate passed S.B. 1018 in its original form, sent it to the House, and promptly adjourned. Since the House could not send its improved version to the Senate, the representatives simply, at the last hour (11 p.m.), passed the bad Senate version and sent it to Governor Jeb Bush.
Although the governor did not fully support the bill, there was little active opposition to it and children's rights groups were pressuring him to sign it.
So HSLDA sent out two e-lerts urging our Florida members to ask Governor Bush to veto this dangerous measure. HSLDA's senior counsel, Christopher Klicka, also spoke with Governor Bush's staff and sent the governor a letter outlining eight reasons why this bill should be vetoed.
The Florida Parent-Educators Association's state home school convention May 24-26, Klicka was able to alert hundreds more Floridians to the dangers of this bill.
The Florida home school community responded strongly with hundreds of phone calls and e-mails. The governor's staff reported receiving calls opposing S.B. 1018 "every few minutes," as well as 300 e-mails. Governor Bush vetoed S.B. 1018 on May 31. — Christopher J. Klicka