Baxley proposes legislation aimed at setting term limits for school board members

Florida State Senator Dennis Baxley filed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1644 on Jan 6. which seeks to place limitations on terms of office for members of a district school board to serve.

The bill would limit board members to serving no more than eight consecutive years.

A Senate Joint Resolution is one of the first steps to amending Florida’s constitution.

According to the Florida Division of Elections’ website, the state constitution can only be amended in the following ways:

“Proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution may be made by a joint resolution of the Florida Legislature, a citizens’ initiative, a proposal from the Constitution Revision Commission, or a proposal from the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.”

Additionally, the website notes that “A proposed amendment requires at least 60% approval from voters to pass [see Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 5(e)].”

We wrote Baxley shortly before the session started to ask questions about the resolution. His responses are below.

Q: Why term limits for school board offices and not political offices in general?

A: The voters of this state have placed in our constitution term limits for all state legislators and statewide elected officials. That was done by voter referendum in 1992. So, this isn’t really asking anyone to do something that we aren’t doing ourselves. In addition, the voters would get to decide, this isn’t the state trying to tell people what they have to do, but it is asking the question of the voters if this is something that they want. Also, our state constitution gives authority to the state over the education system as a whole, so this question is more appropriate in the case of School Boards than it would be for Local Government offices.

Q: Was this something that was brought to Sen. Baxley by constituents, did it generate from a specific situation, or was it proposed “in-house”?

A: Term limits for elected officials is a subject that many of my constituents bring up every single year and we have seen a lot of tension, across the state, between parents and school boards. Do these kids belong to the schools, or do they belong to their families? This is what is at stake here as families have wrestled with things like COVID restrictions, mask mandates and critical race theory. This seemed like a good time to ask the voters a question.

Not only did the 2022 legislative session get underway on Jan.11 at noon, it was also the deadline for filing any legislation to be voted on during the session.

Posted in Education, Government, NewsTagged

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