Senate Democrats have the votes to block term limits for school board members

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To pass, Republicans need at least one Democrat to cross party lines.

Senate Democrats are 100% confident they can kill legislation that would put school board term limits on November’s ballot. 

The House passed its version (HJR 157), sponsored by Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, by a 79-39 vote. The bill has to get the support of 60% of lawmakers in each chamber to get on the ballot. The Senate bill (SJR 1216), sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters is currently on second reading.

The constitutional resolution would ask voters statewide whether “eight is enough,” and if they want to cap terms similar to term limits imposed on state legislators. Supporters say it would provide fresh perspectives and ideas. 

There are 23 Republicans in the Senate. They need 24 votes. That means they would need at least one Democrat to cross party lines on the issue. The caucus took a position against Gruters’ legislation three days ago when it moved through the Rules Committee. 

Gruters didn’t respond when asked if he was confident he could get the votes. And Senate President Bill Galvano failed to muster much enthusiasm for even taking it up.

“We’ll see if we will or not,” he said. “I believe there’s support for it among Senators, but we’re working through all those calendars and time’s limited and there’s a lot of bills out there.”

Minority Leader Audrey Gibson says she’s sure Republicans won’t be able to split off members of her caucus despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office calling around. And term-limited Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, who opposed the bill in committee, says she also plans to vote against it if it’s brought up on the floor. 

“Too many times we pass laws in this Legislature that is to cure a problem that does not exist,” she said in the Rules Committee. “Only to have that law then create new problems that didn’t exist, but now they exist because we passed a law to cure a problem that didn’t exist.”

School board term limits are a top priority for school choice advocates. U.S. Term Limits, a lobbying group, is also pushing for the legislation.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected].


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