High school athletics bill set for hearing
State Rep. Ross Spano (at right). File photo.

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One of several bills aimed at overhauling the state’s oversight body for high school athletics will be heard by a House panel next week.

The bill (HB 31) is set to be considered by the Education Appropriations subcommittee next Tuesday, records show.

State Rep. Ross Spano, a Dover Republican, filed the legislation for the 2016 Legislative Session.

It tweaks state law governing the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), including ensuring that it is revenue-neutral.

This will make the fifth year in a row that lawmakers have taken on the organization, which oversees 32 male and female high-school sports.

Bills filed last session would have done away with the group altogether.

The FHSAA has hired the Corcoran & Johnston lobbying firm to represent it before the Legislature. Founding partner Michael Corcoran is brother to state Rep. Richard Corcoran, the House budget chief and speaker-designate for 2016-18.

Conservative lawmakers targeted the association in recent years after constituents complained about their children not being able to play certain sports because of strict transfer rules, especially when youngsters change schools but don’t move.

The group’s defenders, including Democrats and some public school officials, have countered that weakening the rules would create a free agency system for high school athletes.

Spano’s bill keeps the association “designated as the governing nonprofit organization of athletics in Florida public schools.” But it would replace it with another body if FHSAA “fails to meet the provisions of this section.”

The legislation says FHSAA “may not prohibit or discourage any school from simultaneously maintaining membership in the FHSAA and another athletic association.”

Further, the bill would restrain the group from collecting fees and event revenue that “exceed actual costs” of running the organization.

 

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]



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