If you are concerned about HB1403 and want to help...
There is still time to get the bill amended. NOW is the time to reach out and voice your concerns, before the bill moves to the next committee!
(These tips would also be helpful for contacting representatives with any concerns about future bills or other issues, as well!)
SOME TIPS FOR CONTACTING REPRESENTATIVES:
Keep it brief!
The representatives and the related staff are very busy, and long, detailed accounts can be overwhelming to read.
Instead, try to:
Quickly acknowledge/thank them ("I know you're very busy. Thank you for the work you do representing your constituents" or something like that.)
Include a quick context & your main reason for writing ("I'm a parent with 3 kids on PEP, and I have a major concern about HB1403" or whatever applies to you but lets them know who you are.)
BULLET-POINT OR QUICKLY LIST your supporting points/the detailed reasons for writing... no more than 4 bullets! For this situation, it might look something like:
It's very important for PEP students to have access to the EQUIPMENT for electives like music, art, career & technical skills, etc. Without the ability to purchase required equipment, the lessons may become unusable. For example, one of my children takes guitar lessons, but her instructor requires she have her own guitar to learn on and to practice at home. We could not afford to purchase a guitar out of pocket. If we had not been able to purchase one through MyScholarShop, she would not have been able to take the lessons.
I understand the limitation in HB1403 applies only to "equipment used as instructional materials" for subjects outside the cores listed in the bill, but there is not a clear definition for "equipment.” Parents–myself included–are concerned this may be interpreted to also limit access to things like art supplies, basic school supplies, and more.
Subjects like art, music, physical education, career & technical skills, and other electives ARE part of a well-rounded education, and it does not make sense to limit parents from being able to reasonably use their funds on those types of instruction, which is what the current language in HB1403 will do.
PEP is supposed to be "parent-directed education," but this restriction on "equipment used as instructional materials" prevents the parents from being able to truly direct their child's education by utilizing the funds in the way that works best for each student's individual situation and needs.
[THESE BULLET POINTS SHOULD BE CUSTOMIZED FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND YOUR REASONS FOR THOSE CONCERNS. Also, if you can get your bullet points even SHORTER than the ones above, that's even better!]
4. Thank them again (with your contact info if they want to follow-up), and exit!
You don't have to use this EXACT formula, but a basic template like this will ensure your email is clear, concise, and easy to follow.
Who to contact:
1. Your local representatives. (House and Senate.) The bill is currently in the House, but it will be going to the Senate eventually, too. You can find your representatives on the House and Senate using their search tools here:
You can message your reps directly through those websites once you find them. Or you can use the listed number to call them. Or both!
If you contact a representative who is not YOUR representative, your email may be ignored or deleted. Be sure to include your address/county of location in a visible place in the subject or intro line of your email so they know right away that you are one of their constituents.
2. Speaker Renner. The Speaker has a LOT of influence on the bill, and it's VERY important that he hear parents' concerns on HB1403!
3. The bill's sponsor. Tomkow is sponsoring this bill. It's also very important that she hear parents' concerns.
Additional suggestion: If you're specifically concerned about the limitation on equipment used as instructional materials... Tomkow has argued that parents can still take classes, just not purchase equipment. ("You can take horseback riding lessons, you just can't buy the horse.") So, when reaching out to her, it's especially important to voice the ways in which the limitation on equipment outside of the core subjects would negatively impact your family, ESPECIALLY if you're in a situation where the equipment itself is what you need to purchase. You could also bring up the lack of clear definition for what qualifies under "equipment" and how this might result in legitimate supplies being denied.
When reaching out to any of the above, Keep it brief! You want to communicate WHY this issue matters personally to you and your children, but in the BRIEFEST form possible.
This is not the best time to provide every detail... that could result in your main points not being received or understood. I recommend you save the details for if they reach back out wanting to speak with you further. That way, you can at least be sure your MAIN points are being read/heard.
And we want EVERY parent’s voice to be heard! If you have any other questions about contacting your representatives, reach out to us. We're happy to help!
Crystal Crawford HEF Community Manager
One final note:
If you want to know the primary issues HEF is lobbying for in relation to HB1403, you can find them in a recent forum post here: https://www.flhef.org//forum/2024-legislative-updates/what-hef-is-lobbying-for-on-hb1403
If any of those issues resonate with you, you can include those in your emails and calls!
(You will need a Site Membership to access our forum, but it's free to create one!)