Raschein bills focus on education, anti-discrimination

From more community college dorm rooms to fighting discrimination, state House Rep. Holly Raschein has filed a mix bag of legislation so far this year.

Raschein, R-Key Largo, recently filed a bill that would allow the Florida Keys Community College to place up to 400 beds on campus. Currently, the Lagoon Landing dormitory at FKCC in Gulf Shores holds about 100 beds, college spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard said.

If approved, H.B. 341 would allow the college to place up to 300 more beds in a dorm that would be constructed at the site of the current public safety building, which abuts Lagoon Landing, Leonard said.

The college plans to start offering a four-year bachelor’s business degree in the fall of 2016 and more dorm rooms could accommodate those students, Leonard said. The college is working on three more four-year degrees, Leonard said.

“The expansion of our residence hall is an educational and economic necessity,” FKCC president Jonathan Gueverra said.  “A majority of community college students need additional support if we are to assure their success. With more of them living on campus, our staff can provide programming and support services to increase their chances of success.”

H.B. 341 is currently in the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Also, Raschein has sponsored H.B. 45, which would establish the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act.” If passed, the bill would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against someone based on such factors as sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, the bill states.

The bill is currently in the House Economic Affairs Committee.

Raschein’s most important bill of the session could bring as much as $250 million in state funds to the Florida Keys for acquiring environmentally sensitive land and water-quality protection programs.

H.B. 447, the Florida Keys Stewardship Bill, would bring $20 million a year in state funding for 10 years for the purchase of environmentally sensitive land, and to pay for canal restoration, stormwater and wastewater projects and other water quality programs.

The bill is currently in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

The state legislative session does not formally start until March, but legislators began crafting and filing legislation in September, when some of the subcommittees started meeting.

tohara@keysnews.com

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