Florida House signs off on school board term limits

File photo of Florida House

The Florida House on Wednesday passed a measure that would ask voters in 2022 to impose eight-year term limits on county school board members.

The House voted 87-30 to approve the proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1461). If ultimately passed by voters, the measure would prevent school board members from seeking re-election if “by the end of his or her current term of office, the person will have served, or but for resignation would have served, in that office for eight consecutive years.”

House sponsor Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, said Wednesday that term limits would bring a “culture of accountability” to school boards. Several House Democrats argued, however, that the decision to impose term limits should be made at the local level, not through a statewide constitutional amendment.

“Simply because term limits work for one community does not mean that it works for other communities,” said Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville.

Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, asserted that limiting school board members’ terms would create a power imbalance favoring, for example, lobbyists. Garrison said voters could simply reject the proposed constitutional amendment if they don’t agree with it.

“Only in Tallahassee could a referendum explicitly giving all voters of the state a choice on whether to impose term limits be considered anti-choice,” Garrison said.

A similar Senate proposal (SJR 1642) sponsored by Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters has not been heard in committees. The legislative session is scheduled to end April 30.