Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill allowing certain students who arrived to the United States illegally to qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities in South Florida.
The bill (HB 851) was sponsored by Rep. Jeannette Nunez, R-Miami.
“Signing this historic legislation today will keep tuition low, and allow all students who grew up in Florida to have the same access to affordable higher education,” Scott said in a press release for the legislation.
While House speaker Will Weatherford supported the bill, it stalled in the Senate. Senate President Don Gaetz personally opposed the bill. But Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times said the bill advanced because of efforts by activists and the Governor:
Scott enlisted the public support of two former Republican governors, Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez, both of whom called on the Senate to take action. "Dreamer" students, dressed in orange mortar boards, were a frequent presence in the Capitol Rotunda this past spring as they rallied support for the measure.
Now that it has passed, it will largely benefit parts of the Hispanic community. Hispanic voters account for at least 17% of the state's electorate.
The new law will allow undocumented students who have been at a Florida school for at least three years to pay in-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition is typically 3 times more than the in-state rate.