Florida’s 2016 legislative session started Tuesday, bringing in hundreds of bills – two of which could waive fees and tuition for graduate assistants at state universities.
State Senate Bill 1230 and House Bill 1311 were introduced in the House and Senate on Tuesday as the legislature’s annual two-month session started. Both bills require state universities to waive fees and tuition for graduate assistants who meet certain requirements. If approved, both bills will take effect July 1.
The Senate bill was referred to the Higher Education, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Appropriations committees Monday.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes wrote in an email that it’s too early to speculate how the bills might affect the university.
John Hames, a former co-president of UF’s Graduate Assistants United, said GAU hopes the bills will pass.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be, but we really appreciate that we have people in the Senate and House who recognize the problem of graduate employment fees,” the 34-year-old said.
Alec Dinnin, a co-president of GAU, wrote in an email that they will support Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who filed the bills in the legislature, while also continuing their own efforts.
“I would love for progress to be made in the legislature, no doubt about it, and I’m cautiously optimistic. But at the same time, I know that we have to keep conducting our own operations here,” Dinnin said.