TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A Senate bill allowing for in-state tuition for undocumented students cleared a huge hurdle Tuesday. After barely passing its last committee, the proposal picked up some unexpected votes.
Mizael Huerta has no problem calling America home.
“This is the only home that we know, we grew up here, we weren’t born here but we grew up here,” Huerta said.
Huerta was born outside the US, but spent a majority of his life in Florida. He was one of dozens speaking out about a bill that would grant in state tuition to undocumented students. Opposing testimony got personal.
George Fuller is opposed to Tuition Equity.
“They should return home and finish their education and help build a vibrant economy so their two main exports in the future are not just drugs and people,” Fuller said.
The comment was too much for Senator Jeremy Ring.
“Mr. Chair, that’s not how. We’re a Senate committee hearing. Take control!” Ring said.
Ultimately, in-state tuition arguments are not what got the bill to pass.
“Lawmakers outside were celebrating Florida State day at the Capitol. This legislation would actually cap university tuition.”
Ending tuition hikes were enough to sell some swing votes, like Sen. John Thrasher.
“The bill has a number of good things in it," Thrasher said. "The other arguments about in-state have been made. It’s time to move on.”
Bill sponsor Jack Latvala hopes the legislation opens the door for thousands of students in Florida.
“And maybe give them something better to do than being a dishwasher or a maid or something like that in a hotel. They can do anything,” Latvala said.
The bill passed with just two no votes.
The House version of the bill differs from the Senate’s by still allowing tuition to be raised. The House bill would bring tuition hikes down from 15 percent to 6 percent a year.