Once in a blue moon, even the most cynical among us find cause to celebrate. This year's legislative session in Tallahassee provided some unexpected victories for the little guys and defeats for the corporate interests that normally enjoy free rein in Florida. Two of the most shocking losers of 2012: banks and charter schools.
Witness the Florida Bankers Association's newsletter, mourning the defeat of bills that would have sped up the foreclosure process. "Unfortunately, the Florida Senate did not take the opportunity to pass substantive changes to Florida's foreclosure laws," the newsletter says.
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Bankers were lobbying hard for a measure that would expedite foreclosures of abandoned properties. But opponents said the bill would not solve the state's foreclosure backlog. They worried that tenants and owners of "abandoned" homes would get pushed out without adequate time to dispute the foreclosure. Meanwhile, activists said the bill did not adequately address the problem of banks using robo-signing and fraudulent documents to speed foreclosures along. Thanks to vocal protests, SB 1890 was defeated.
Another controversial measure that bit the dust in Tallahassee was the "Parent Empowerment in Education" bill, which would have allowed a majority of parents to vote to convert a public school into a privately run charter school.
Parent advocates argued that the bill was a thinly veiled attempt to give more business to for-profit charter school management companies. And despite the deep pockets and tremendous lobbying efforts of charter school proponents, the parent activists won. A measure that would have required school districts to share their construction funding with charter schools also died. In fact, a legislative session that many expected to be a boon for charter schools was ultimately a flop.
Has Florida finally tired of lining the pockets of bankers and companies that value profits over education? Here's hoping.