While other issues such as “Parent Trigger,” various abortion bills and of course Medicaid reform are garnering all the headlines the most dangerous legislation of the 2013 session may in fact be unrelated to any of those issues. Rep. Metz’s (R-Yalaha) HB 1279 & Senator Stargell’s (R-Lakeland) SB 1164 would substantially change the way the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), the non-profit which governs the more than 260,000 athletes in Florida high-schools operates.
The legislation would invite free agency for high school athletes and undermine the almost 100-year FHSAA governed history of Florida interscholastic sports. The legislation would also allow the House & Senate to directly interfere in the affairs of the organization, and would potentially impact the organizations income streams. This is to put it mildly a naked power grab by a legislature who has become accustomed to reckless changes to the law that lead to both intended and unintended detrimental consequences. The FHSAA is an organization that through the years has regularly adapted to the consistently changing landscape in the state of Florida with minimum disruption to high-school athletics. However, the proposed legislation this year would create ripples throughout the school districts statewide.
Now consider for a moment if the Legislature uses the precedent set by these bills to start interfering in the management of other non-profits that administer and govern statewide services. The legisalture could have open season on any non-profit that has a relationship with any government entity. While the FHSAA is far from a perfect organization but it has become routine in this legislature for a reactionary solution to be offered for what only requires subtle tweaks of the law.
Much of the focus of activists the past month have been on the big ticket items, but chances are if the FHSAA reforms are passed, it will detrimentally impact more Floridians and set more dangerous precedents going forward than any of the bills energy is being spent opposing. While progressives must still fight hard against school “choice” initiatives as well as the annual attempts to restrict women’s reproductive rights, the FHSAA revisions are among the most dangerous pieces legislation filed this session. We will continue to track this matter closely in the coming days and weeks.