rick_scott_fc_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A new version of a teacher merit pay and tenure bill that was vetoed last year after statewide protests is on a fast track to passage in 2011.

The Florida Senate passed it 26-12 on Thursday, just two days after the Republican-controlled Legislature convened its regular annual session. All except two Republicans voted for the bill along with one Democrat.

Key features are a merit pay plan based heavily on student test scores effective in 2014 and a ban on tenure for teachers hired after July 1, 2011.

The bill (SB 736) now goes to the House, which has scheduled two marathon floor sessions to debate it next week.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed last year's bill, but the legislation has gotten strong support from his successor, Gov. Rick Scott.