A Florida House panel is working on a bill that would ease the expansion of public charter schools.

The bill would require school districts to offer unused buildings to charter schools free of charge. It would also speed up the charter school application process and prevent school districts from capping the enrollment of charter schools operating in their territory.

The legislative debate comes as the proliferation of charter schools has stoked tensions among Leon County School Board members, who fear they divert resources from traditional public schools.

Jim Horne is president of the Florida Charter School Alliance and a lobbyist whose clients include Charter Schools USA, the company that operates the newly opened Governors Charter Academy in Tallahassee.

Horne, a former education commissioner and early supporter of charter schools, said thousands of students on waiting lists are a sign that charter schools need to expand to meet the demand from parents.