Florida Senate - 2016 SB 1494 By Senator Soto 14-00578-16 20161494__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Language Education Assistance 3 Program; creating s. 1009.894, F.S.; establishing the 4 Language Education Assistance Program within the 5 Department of Education; requiring the program to 6 provide grants up to a specified amount to certain 7 participating institutions to provide free English 8 classes to certain students; specifying student 9 eligibility requirements; requiring students to 10 maintain a specified grade point average to retain 11 eligibility in the program; requiring a participating 12 institution to report certain information to the 13 department by specified dates; providing an effective 14 date. 15 16 WHEREAS, Florida has recently experienced a large influx of 17 legal immigrants from Cuba and Puerto Rico, among other regions, 18 and 19 WHEREAS, Florida’s official language is English, and 20 WHEREAS, Florida’s society and economy will greatly benefit 21 if these recent legal immigrants receive help in becoming 22 proficient in English, NOW, THEREFORE, 23 24 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 25 26 Section 1. Section 1009.894, Florida Statutes, is created 27 to read: 28 1009.894 Language Education Assistance Program.— 29 (1) The Language Education Assistance Program (LEAP) is 30 established within the Department of Education and shall be 31 administered pursuant to this section and the rules of the State 32 Board of Education. 33 (2) LEAP shall assist recent legal immigrants to this state 34 in learning English by awarding $30 million in grants, as 35 provided in the General Appropriations Act, to participating 36 state universities, Florida College System institutions, or 37 nonpublic colleges or universities to provide free English 38 classes to students who meet all of the following requirements: 39 (a) Must have arrived in this state within the preceding 3 40 years. 41 (b) Must have a low proficiency in English. 42 (c) Must be a citizen or legal resident of the United 43 States. 44 (d) Must be 18 years of age or older. 45 (e) Must be accepted at a state university, a Florida 46 College System institution, or a nonpublic college or university 47 that participates in the program. 48 (3) To retain program eligibility, a student must maintain 49 a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all 50 English classes taken at the institution. 51 (4) A participating institution shall report passage rates 52 and any other information requested by the department by January 53 15 and June 15 of each year to assess the success of the 54 program. 55 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.