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.
   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,
   24  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.