Legislative Session 2024

Updates from the 2024 Session

More early learning bills were filed in this legislative session than ever before–a reflection of the number of Senate and House members who have taken a strong interest in these issues. The biggest win: more general revenue dollars being infused into School Readiness, Florida’s subsidized child care program, raising the total early learning budget to $1.7 billion.

Top five bills we followed

HB 929/SB 916: School Readiness

  • Why we followed this bill: It aimed to raise the eligibility threshold for Florida’s child care subsidy program, called School Readiness (SR), from 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 55% of the state median income (SMI). It also sought to create a new sliding fee scale for parent copayments in the SR program, establish new SR reimbursement rates, and revise how the annual SR allocation is determined across Florida counties. 
  • What happened: The House version, sponsored by Rep. Dana Trabulsy, died on the House floor. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Alexis Calatayud, died in the Appropriations Committee on Education. However, the parts of the bills related to allocation of funds for the School Readiness Program, the sliding fee scale, and School Readiness reimbursement rates made it into the General Education bill. Eligibility for the program remains unchanged for this year.
  • Where can you find parts of it now: HB 5101: Education. Refer to pages 23-27 for revisions to Florida Statutes 1002.84 regarding parental copayments and 1002.89 regarding allocation of funds for School Readiness. For reimbursement rates, refer to HB 5001’s conference report.

HB 635/SB 820: Child Care and Early Learning Providers

  • Why we followed this bill: It sought to create a tax credit for employers who establish a child care facility on site or contribute to their employees' child care costs, as an incentive to support working families and increase the supply of available child care. The bill also included provisions to revise child care regulations, and sought to establish zoning and insurance protections for family child care homes. 
  • What happened: The House version, sponsored by Rep. Fiona McFarland, died on the House floor. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Erin Grall, died in Appropriations. However, the child care tax credit was added to the General Taxation bill, which was signed into law by the Governor. The bill allows for $5 million in tax credits for child care annually for the next three years, issued to corporations that create on-site childcare or subsidize child care for the children or grandchildren of their employees. 
  • Where can you find parts of it now: HB 7073: Taxation. Refer to pages 60-61, 86-87, 98-100, 111-120, and 126-130 for statutory revisions allowing for the creation and implementation of the tax credit, as well as its parameters.      

HB 1353/SB 1026: Early Learning

  • Why we followed this bill: This bill sought to create a “Summer Bridge” program for VPK students who score below the 10th percentile of their final assessment to further prepare them for kindergarten, as well as revision of duties and funding for Early Learning Coalitions. It also sought to regulate the use of electronic devices for direct instruction in early learning environments. 
  • What happened: The House version, sponsored by Rep. John Snyder, died on the House floor, whereas the Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Erin Grall, died in Fiscal Policy. The parts of the bill pertaining to the creation of the Summer Bridge program, and the increase in Early Learning Coalition administration for VPK were amended to the General Education bill. 
  • Where can you find parts of it now: HB 5101: Education. Amendment to statute 1008.25 pertaining to the Summer Bridge program can be found on page 29. Amendments to statutes 1002.71 and 1002.84 regarding Coalition administration can be found on pages 22-24. 

HB 847/SB 1400: School Readiness Program

  • Why we followed this bill: It sought to revise the eligibility priority for the School Readiness program to include children with a documented disability that required accommodation beyond what the Americans with Disabilities Act requires, as well as provide additional training and funding for child care providers who support children with special needs and/or disabilities.
  • What happened: The House version, sponsored by Rep. Robin Bartleman, died in PreK-12 Appropriations. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Shevrin Jones, died in the PreK-12 Education Committee. The contents of the bill were amended to HB 1353, which also died before making it to the finish line. 

HB 1267/SB 7052: Economic Self Sufficiency

  • Why we followed this bill: This bill sought to change access to various public benefits programs in our state, with an aim to ensure they were helping families reach economic self-sufficiency, and not taking them to a fiscal cliff before they reached that point. Relevant to early childhood, it sought to create the School Readiness Plus program, allowing for families to retain their child care subsidies upon the federally mandated exit from the SR program (at 85% SMI) until they reach 100% of the SMI. 
  • What happened: Both the House version, sponsored by Rep. Adam Anderson, and the Senate companion, created by the Fiscal Policy Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs, passed. The House version was presented to the Governor and signed into law. 
  • Where can you find parts of it now: The full bill can be read here.       

Early Learning Budget Highlights

  • Extension of School Readiness (SR) benefits to address the fiscal cliff--School Readiness Plus ($23 million investment)
  • Increase in state rates for SR for the first time in two years ($46.4 million investment)
  • 3% increase in VPK funding (plus increase to 5% for admin costs)
  • Establishment of a Summer Bridge program to support children struggling before kindergarten entry
  • Passage of an early learning tax credit to help employers play a role in easing early learning/child care affordability ($5 million)
  • T.E.A.C.H. Program received $7 million increase ($17 million allocation)
  • $1.7 billion total state investment in early learning

Read more in an opinion piece from Movement CEO Madeleine Thakur, that ran in the Tallahassee Democrat on June 11, 2024. 

 

View Our 2024 Legislative Recap.

Background and Timing

The 2024 Florida Legislative Session officially began on Tuesday, January 9. Even before that date, elected officials began laying the groundwork for the 60-day session during committee weeks last fall.

House and Senate Leadership

Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and President Kathleen C. Passidomo (R-Naples) continue to lead their respective chambers for the second of their two-year terms. 

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.

And in the Senate:

Committee Weeks

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 December 15.

Lawmakers used these committee weeks to get information from state leaders, hear from experts on the issues they may address, and workshop proposed bills. 

Regular Session: January 9 to March 8

Tuesday, January 9 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 stated his intention to prioritize the needs of children, saying: “We’ll help parents with children in poverty overcome the fiscal cliffs of public assistance programs and support other healthcare initiatives that benefit children, both before and after they are born.”

President Passidomo spoke about the importance of family and her three top priorities: "Live Healthy," "Learn Local," and Florida's Wildlife Corridor. She also reminded us of the importance of participating in the process, citing her “big tent approach,” saying: “Everyone is invited to help develop, revise and improve legislation. Whether we hear from constituents in committee, in our district office or walking through the grocery store during a weekend at home, their feedback is very important.”

Following the remarks in the joint session, Democratic leaders also shared their priorities, with a focus on "making sure Floridians can actually afford to live in the Sunshine State.”

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 January 9, 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.

Looking Ahead

The 2025 Legislative Session will begin in March, with committee meetings beginning in December.

Updates

Throughout each legislative session, we send weekly updates on early childhood bills filed and moving (or not) through the process. Sign up for our newsletter to receive these updates.