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Monday, February 26, 2024

State House passes bill to help students pay for textbooks

The Florida House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of a bill Wednesday that aims to make buying textbooks more affordable. The bill, introduced by Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would require state colleges and universities to provide adequate textbook information to students at least 30 days before the first day of classes.

They would have to provide either the ISBN number or other identifying information, including the book's author, title, edition, publisher, published date and copyright date, at the minimum.

If passed by the Senate and approved by Gov. Charlie Crist, the proposal would give students time to shop around for the cheapest textbooks available rather than having to rush to buy them in time for class.

Flores said she wasn't surprised the House voted 115-0 in favor of the bill.

In a phone interview Wednesday, she described her initial reaction to the news of the bill's passage as "incredible satisfaction."

"This is a step in trying to help students make their college career a little more affordable," she said. "It took three years to get this great bill passed, and it was worth it."

Flores began combating the textbook affordability problem in 2005 with a proposal to exempt textbooks from sales tax, but her bill didn't make it onto the Legislature's agenda in 2006 or 2007.

Audie Rowell, president and co-founder of XBooks, a nonprofit, online bookstore that allows students to buy and sell books among themselves, helped Flores draft a bill that would more specifically address the issue.

Rowell said he was ecstatic about the bill's passage through the House.

"This is historic for students," he said. "That's the only way I can describe it."

Considering the financial strains of recent tuition hikes, Rowell, a 40-year-old returning Florida State University student, said the bill would offer students some relief.

"Students will now be provided the information they have been denied for so many years," he said.

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The proposal will go before the Florida Senate today. If it passes, it must also be approved by Crist before going into effect.

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