The 2023 Florida Legislative Session officially began on Tuesday, March 7. Even before that date, elected officials began laying the groundwork for the 60-day session during the organizational sessions and committee weeks.
During the organizational session, which occurred in late November 2022, newly elected members were sworn in and members elected the leadership of their respective chambers. Representative Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) was elected Speaker of the House, and Senator Kathleen C. Passidomo (R-Naples) was voted Senate President. Speaker Renner and President Passidomo also released their committee assignments and chairs.
Below are some key leaders in the House who might have a say in early childhood issues. You can click on each committee to see if your own elected leaders serve on these committees, too.
- Chair Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach), Appropriations Committee
- Chair Josie Tomkow (R-Auburndale), PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee
- Chair Ralph Massullo (R-Inverness), Education and Employment Committee
- Chair Dana Trabulsy (R-Fort Pierce), Education Quality Subcommittee
- Chair Kaylee Tuck (R-Sebring), Choice and Innovation Subcommittee
- Chair Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), Health & Human Services Committee
- Chair Traci Koster (R-Tampa), Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee
- Chair Daniel "Danny" Perez (R-Miami), Rules Committee
And in the Senate:
- Chair Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola), Committee on Appropriations
- Chair Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), Appropriations Committee on Education
- Chair Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart), Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services
- Chair Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee), Committee on Education Pre-K - 12
- Chair Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), Committee on Health Policy
- Chair Ileana Garcia (R-Miami), Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs
- Chair Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne), Committee on Rules
In order to prepare for the upcoming session, these House and Senate committees meet a number of times in the weeks leading up to session. The last committee week concluded on February 24.
In order for any bill to pass during the 60-day session, it must be filed before the session begins on March 7. Lawmakers used these committee weeks to get information from state leaders, hear from experts on the issues they may address, and workshop proposed bills.
Discussions in these meetings give a hint about policies that might be in the works. Here are just a few highlights from the committee weeks:
- On January 17, the House Education Quality Subcommittee met to learn about the “Science of Reading.” While this was a conversation focused on the K-12 years, it is important even in the early childhood years to understand the science behind how children learn to read, and how the pre-literacy skills (with a focus on language and vocabulary) translate to later school success. You can watch the committee meeting here.
- The House Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee met several times to focus on early care and education-related issues. A panel during the January 18 meeting, featured representatives from the Division of Early Learning, the Florida Association for Child Care Management (FACCM), and the Association of Early Learning Coalitions (AELC) for a conversation on current challenges facing early learning centers and funding needs in the system. You can watch the committee meeting here.
- On January 24, the House Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meeting focused on the federal funding that has helped the early care and education industry through the pandemic. You can watch the committee meeting here.
- Also on January 24, the House Health and Human Services committee met to discuss the impact that ending the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will have on Medicaid recipients. Many children are at risk of losing coverage. You can watch the committee meeting here.
- On February 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education was briefed by staff from the Governor’s office about his proposed education budget. Senators asked questions about early learning funding, including recent VPK funding increases and the remaining federal pandemic relief funding. You can watch the committee meeting here.
What to expect from March 7 to May 5
March 7 was opening day, when each chamber convened for a special opening session. Speaker Renner and President Passidomo offered remarks in their respective chambers, and Governor DeSantis gave his "State of the State" address to a joint House and Senate session. Speaker Renner said "healthy, striving children are the foundation of our future" and "no family should ever have to choose between a pay raise and their children’s health care." President Passidomo spoke about the importance of family and how some of her priorities—like tax cuts on diapers—will ensure "Florida families can keep more of their hard-earned dollars where they belong: in their pocket." Following the remarks in the joint session, Democratic leaders also shared their priorities, with a focus on "the economic needs of everyday Floridians."
The first half of the session will be spent workshopping and passing bills through the committee process, while the second half of the session will be more focused on budget negotiations between the House and Senate, and meetings on the floor to pass legislation.
Leading up to the opening day of the Legislative Session, bills were filed at a steady rate. While the deadline for members to file their bills was March 6, committees can work and file “PCBs,” or proposed committee bills, throughout the session. In general, bills will pass through 3-4 committees for questions, debate, and amendments before reaching the chamber floor for a final set of votes.
Throughout this legislative session, we will send weekly updates on early childhood bills filed and moving (or not) through the process. Sign up for our newsletter to receive these updates.