Sounds to me that this is all money-based and that some for-profit schools have successfully scammed the powers that be in Florida.
If the situation is as grim as the OP states, don't take it lying down! An earlier poster suggested writing to the politicians, holding rallies, bringing the students' concerns to attention of the lawmakers. Why not take it a step further? Go directly to the stakeholders. Florida has a large elderly population. Can you convince the seniors that their care WILL be compromised by less-than-qualified nurses? Can you get the AARP to see your point of view on this issue?
How about the news media? Can students, instructors, deans of nursing contact the newspapers and TV stations, particularly the stations that have special consumer alert programs? Why not go as far as contact the national media? Surely someone's got to be interested in this story. Blog about it. Spread the word to other nursing forums. Have your Dean write about this on the school website. Have your Dean, your instructors, your fellow students inundate the media with letters to the editor. Even write out and distribute a short form email to have individuals send to your legislators and governor. I know people say that form emails aren't effective, but the sheer number of emails would have to have an impact somehow.
There are also some national advocates for nursing. If influential people like the editors of AJN and journalist Suzanne Gordon have time to comment on "Nurse Jackie" surely they have time to address an issue like this. Go to the ANA. Complain to the AACN. Even if you're not a member of Sigma Theta Tau, involve them. Of all organizations, STT should be involved in ensuring quality nursing education for the future.
If you're a member of a political party, bring this issue up at the county level. Find out who the county leaders are and mail them about your concerns. Get involved at the grass roots level to get this issue the visibility it deserves.
Educate your fellow students about these programs, and warn them to look closely at brand new for-profit nursing programs that spring up overnight because of this legislation. Urge other students NOT to attend these schools. If the fly-by-night schools didn't attract nursing students, they would be OUT of the business of nursing education in a hurry.
Get your student nurse associations ACTIVE on this measure. Network. Make sure other students are AWARE of what's happening. Make sure they realize that their licenses may not necessarily transfer to other states. Again, go national with your concerns. If this can happen in Florida, certainly some other rocket scientist politician will try it elsewhere.
Work against the idiots who voted this in. Find out---is Grimsley still an active registered nurse? If her license has lapsed, she really can't be calling herself a registered nurse now, can she? Work actively against her in her next re-election campaign. (BTW, her credentials scare me. I can see permitting someone with a nursing background and a BSN being allowed to teach SOME nursing courses with a master's in education---but not a graduate degree in some other field altogether. To call herself up as an example of someone who isn't "permitted" to teach nursing----ridiculous. Seriously, find out what her credentials REALLY are. Did she get an ADN and never work? Very different from someone who got an ADN and worked the floors for twenty years before getting her other, non-nursing degrees.)
Be loud, be forceful and do what you must. I know this is a commitment of time and energy but this is YOUR future. Just don't lie down and let the Florida legislature screw you---or the profession---over.