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Senate poised to take up major education bill

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Senate is slated Wednesday to take up a wide-ranging education bill that includes creating a new voucher program and revamping the controversial Best and Brightest teacher-bonus program.

Expanding school choice is a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the Senate bill (SB 7070) includes creating a voucher program that would be known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship program.

The changes to the Best and Brightest program would include revamping bonus amounts and how money is distributed. That includes eliminating a requirement that teachers’ scores on SAT or ACT college-entrance exams be considered in deciding who receives bonuses.

The education bill is one of numerous measures scheduled to come up during a floor session Wednesday.

Others include a bill (SB 1020), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, that would set up a regulatory framework for an industrial-hemp industry in Florida. A program would be created in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as the state looks at the potential of hemp as a new industry for farmers and other businesspeople.