LegisLetter: April 24, 2017

Volume 24, Number 7

There are only two weeks left in the Regular Legislative Session, yet the majority of the work for the 2017 Session remains. At the writing of this edition, House and Senate leaders have not reached agreement on allocations for the appropriations conference process. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House must agree on how much money will be allocated to each part of the budget such as criminal justice, health care, environment, and education; once that happens budget subcommittees work to spend the allocation within their budget area.

As stated in previous Legisletters, there is a significant difference between the House’s version of the budget and Senate version, particularly in the area of higher education. We are working hard at the Capitol, asking legislators to support the Senate’s funding plan for universities. As you will see in the side-by-side below, the Senate budget includes most of Florida State University’s budget priorities for 2017.

There are very few policy bills that have passed both chambers; 3043 bills have been filed, but only 25 have passed both chambers. We expect hundreds of bills and thousands of amendments will be debated in the final weeks. Major outstanding policy issues include state employee raises, changes to the State Retirement System, State Employee Health programs, and block tuition for universities.

Though we do not know with certainty how the Session will end, FSU’s message has been well received at the Capitol. President Thrasher has met personally with countless legislators to share the vision and accomplishments of Florida State University. House Speaker Richard Corcoran publically commended President Thrasher this week for his leadership and commitment to transparency and accountability. It’s a great way to enter into the final weeks of the Session.

Thank you for your interest in the happenings at the State Capitol. If you have any questions or requests relating to legislation, please do not hesitate contacting our office at 850-644-4453 or email me at kmears@fsu.edu.

Go Noles!


Budget Comparison

Both House and Senate passed their budgets last week, setting up the annual debate over each chamber’s spending priorities. The House recommends a budget of $81.2 billion for FY 2017-2018, and the Senate recommends $83.1 billion. We anticipate that conferees will be appointed in the next few days and work will begin to iron-out their differences.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate budget proposals for FSU projects:

Budget Item (Entity) House Bill 5001 Senate Bill 2500
General Revenue

Senate Includes: 

   Health Equity Research Inst.

   Next Gen. Ultra-High Field Magnets

   CAPS Expansion & Diversification

House Includes:   

   Charles Hilton Endowed Professorship (R)

   Florida Campus Compact (R)

   Boys & Girls State (R)

   College of Law Scholarships (R)

   College of Law

Learning Systems Institute (R)

   Pepper Center Long Term Care Proposal (R)

   Student Veterans Center (R)

   Tallahassee Veterans Legal Collaborative (NR)

   STEM Education Enhancements

Student and other fees




































Preeminent Universities

Emerging Preeminent



Performance funds (SUS) $500,000,000 $525,000,000

College of Medicine

   General Revenue

   Evaluation of Behavioral Health System of Care

   Student & Other Fees










FAMU/FSU College of Engineering $13,114,893 $14,384,389

SUS Capitol Improvement Fee Projects $45,000,000 $45,000,000

SUS Maintenance, Repair, Renovation $114,849,253 $45,562,241


Earth Ocean Atmospheric Sciences Building

College of Business Building

Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Bldg.

Stem Teaching Lab

Land Acquisition











PBS PECO – WFSU-TV/FM – Replace Studio Lighting $650,000 $650,000

Public School PECO – Distributed among lab schools

FSUS Arts and Sciences Building (STEAM)



Honorably Discharged Graduate Assist. Program
Proviso …the Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program are provided for supplemental need-based veteran educational benefits. Funds shall be used to assist in the payment of living expenses during holiday and semester breaks for active duty and honorably discharged members of the Armed Forces who served on or after September 11, 2001. To ensure students in both public and private institutions have an opportunity to receive funding, allocations to institutions shall be prorated based on the number of total eligible students at eligible institutions.
$1,000,000 $1,000,000

FL Diagnostic & Learning Resource Ctr $450,000 $450,000

FSU Autism Ctr

Communication/Autism Navigator



Public Broadcasting

   FL Channel – closed captioning

   FL Channel – Satellite Transponder

   FL Channel – Cultural Affairs

   FL Channel – Year Round Coverage

   Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Ctr.

   Florida PBS Learning Media Content Library

   Public Radio Stations

   Public Television Stations

















College of Medicine – Panama City Mosquito $350,000 $700,000

Panama City- Underwater Crime (JAWS) 0 $1,900,000

Proviso -- …the following facilities may be constructed or acquired from non-appropriated sources…

  • FSU – Teaching Pavilion –
  • FSU – Administrative Annex West College Avenue
  • FSU – Academic Annex South Duval Street
  • FSU – Research Annex Maryland Circle
  • FSU – College of Medicine Annex South Appleyard Dr.
  • FSU – Visitors Center Expansion Ringling Cultural Center

Both the House and Senate recommend continuing health insurance benefits at the current contribution rates.

Senate recommends for employees with a base rate of pay $40,000 or less on September 30, 2017, an annual increase of $1,400. Additionally, the Senate recommends for employees with a base rate of pay greater than $40,000 on September 30, 2017, an annual increase of $1,000; provided however, in no instance shall an employee’s base rate of pay be increased to an annual amount of less than $41,400.

The House only recommends pay increase for employees of law enforcement, Department of Legal Affairs and Department of Corrections.

Spotlight on Bills 042417

HB 7085 – Workers Compensation by Representative Danny Burgess (R – Zephyrhills), clarifies that it is the intent of the Legislature that the workers’ compensation system be self-executing and for the law to be interpreted to “assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer.” Florida courts have recently found multiple parts of the workers’ compensation law unconstitutional in the areas of carrier paid injured worker attorney fees, time limits on temporary wage replacement benefits (i.e., indemnity), and the right of an injured worker to pay for their own attorney. For these and other reasons, the Office of Insurance Regulation ordered a rate increase of 14.5 percent effective December 1, 2017. The bill makes the following changes to the workers’ compensation law:

  • Permits direct payment of attorneys by or for claimants.
  • Increases total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from104 weeks to 260 weeks.
  • Fills a benefit gap that happens when TTD/TPD ends, but the injured worker is not at overall maximum medical improvement and/or no overall permanent impairment rating.
  • Allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee schedule.
    • Permitted only if the statutory fee is less than 40 percent or greater than 125 percent of the hourly rate customarily charged in the local community by defense attorneys, with the JCC determining the relevant facts, and;
    • If the departure fee is allowed, the JCC determines the hourly rate, not to exceed $150 per hour, using statutory factors and the number of necessary attorney hours.
  • Makes the injured worker responsible for any remaining attorney fees if required by their retainer agreement; the retainer agreements must be filed with the JCCs, but are not subject to JCC approval.
  • Allows insurers to uniformly reduce premiums by no more than 5 percent, if they file an informational-only notice within 30 days, subject to regulatory oversight.
  • Creates a mechanism to fill vacancies on the Three-Member Panel; grants the Panel authority to fill gaps in statutory reimbursement when adopting schedules of maximum reimbursement allowances for medical care.
  • Requires a good faith effort by the claimant and their attorney to resolve disputes prior to filing a petition for benefits; mandates a specified notice regarding attorney fees be signed by the claimant; increases the requirements applicable to petitions for benefits; eliminates carrier paid attorney fees for services occurring before the filing a petition; attaches attorney fees 45 days, rather than 30 days, following the filing of a petition; requires a JCC to dismiss a petition for lack of specificity, without prejudice, within 10 days or 20 days, depending upon whether a hearing is required.
  • Eliminates the charge-based reimbursement of health care facility outpatient medical care in favor of reimbursing them at 200% (unscheduled care) and 160% (scheduled surgery) of Medicare. If no Medicare fee exists, then current reimbursement standards apply, which are incorporated into statute.
  • Requires the authorization or denial of medical care authorization requests, unless there is a material deficiency.
  • Provides for collecting additional information on attorney fees.

The bill passed the House last week and is waiting to be heard in the Senate.  The Senate companion, SB 1582 by Senator Rob Bradley (R – Orange Park), is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.

HB 5105 – School Improvement by Representative Chris Latvala (R – Clearwater), streamlines early warning system requirements and alleviates school improvement planning requirements by requiring a school improvement plan only for schools with a grade of “D” or “F.” The bill also streamlines the school improvement process by:

  • requiring the same level of intensive interventions and support strategies for “D” and “F” schools;
  • requiring the school district to provide the SBE a district-managed turnaround plan by September 1 after a school earns a “D” or “F;”
  • requiring the selection of another turnaround option after the school receives a third consecutive grade below a “C” unless the school is deemed likely to improve to a “C” and receives an additional year; and
  • requiring another turnaround option be implemented after 2 years implementing the first plan unless the school is deemed likely to improve to a “C.”

The bill provides that an educational emergency exists in a school district when a school earns a “D” or “F” and requires the district to execute a memorandum of understanding with the collective bargaining agent concerning the selection, placement, and expectations of instructional personnel and school administrators at the school. The memorandum must also be submitted to the SBE by September 1 after a school earns a “D” or “F.”

The bill authorizes the establishment of “schools of hope” and designation of “hope operators” to provide students in areas of persistently low-performing schools with a high-quality education option designed to close the opportunity gap and increase student achievement. The bill:

  • establishes criteria for schools of hope and hope operators;
  • defines persistently low-performing schools as those subject to differentiated accountability for more than three years or closed as a result of school improvement requirements;
  • authorizes the State Board of Education (SBE) to identify and designate hope operators who meet specified criteria;
  • removes barriers to hope operators by creating a new notice and agreement process that is exempt from the current charter law and state procurement laws. The process:
    • allows a hope operator to submit a notice of intent to establish a school of hope in a school district with one or more persistently low-performing schools;
    • requires the school district to enter into a performance based agreement with the hope operator which must include specified provisions;
  • provides a school of hope with specific exemptions from current law;
  • provides provisions for facilities and funding for schools of hope;
  • establishes a grant program to cover specified operational expenses; and
  • establishes the Schools of Hope Revolving Loan Program to help schools of hope cover school building construction and startup costs.

After final passage by the House, the bill was taken up in the Senate last week.  The Senate refused to pass the bill and requested a conference committee be appointed.

CS/CS/CS/HB 549 – Education by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), revises requirements related to the statewide assessment program by:

  • deleting provisions requiring the administration of the Algebra II end-of-course (EOC) assessment;
  • revising assessment windows for statewide, standardized assessments to move administration later in the year and, for certain assessments, during the last 4 weeks of a district’s school calendar;
  • requiring results from the statewide, standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments to be provided in an easy-to-read report and delivered in time to provide useful, actionable information to students, parents, and to each student’s teacher, including each student’s teacher of record for the next school year; and
  • moving the date by which the Commissioner of Education must publish the uniform assessment calendar on the Department of Education (DOE) website from August to January of each year.

The bill requires the commissioner, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year and every 3 years thereafter, to publish on the DOE’s website each statewide, standardized assessment and statewide EOC assessment, as well as materials to help the public interpret the published assessment information. The commissioner may determine the schedule for publishing assessments during the 3-year period; however, the initial publication must include the grade 3 ELA and mathematics assessments, the grade 10 ELA assessment, and the Algebra I EOC assessment.

The bill also revises provisions relating to the student learning growth formula by requiring that an independent third party develop the formula and verify the suitability of statewide assessment results for annual learning growth measures. The bill requires the commissioner to provide schools access to individual student learning growth data in a user-friendly format that enables teachers to understand and evaluate the data and school administrators to improve instruction, evaluate programs, allocate resources, plan professional development, and communicate with stakeholders.

The commissioner must contract an independent study to determine whether the SAT and ACT may be used in lieu of the grade 10 ELA assessment and the Algebra I EOC assessment as allowed by federal law.

The bill was amended last week to:

  • delete provisions requiring the Algebra II EOC assessment to be administered and that certain students take the assessment;
  • require all statewide, standardized assessments, including statewide EOC assessments, be delivered in a computer-based format; however, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, the statewide, standardized ELA and mathematics assessments for grades 3 through 6 must be administered in a non-electronic format;
  • move the date by which the commissioner must publish the uniform assessment calendar on the DOE’s website from August to January of each year;
  • require, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, that the grade 3 statewide, standardized ELA assessment, the writing portion of the ELA assessments, and paper-based assessments be administered during a 2-week assessment window that starts no earlier than April 1 each year;
  • require that computer-based statewide, standardized assessments be administered during a 4- week assessment window that starts no earlier than May 1 each year;
  • require each school district to administer those assessments no earlier than 4 weeks before the last day of school for the district;
  • require results from the grade 3 statewide, standardized ELA assessment be made available no later than May 31 and the results from all other statewide assessments be made available no later than June 30;
  • requires the results of statewide, standardized ELA and mathematics assessments, including assessment retakes, to be reported to students, parents, and each student’s teacher of record for the subsequent year in an easy-to-read and understandable format and in time to provide useful, actionable information and specifies information that must be included;
  • require that the student learning growth formula be developed by a third party independent of the statewide, standardized assessment administrator and requires the independent third party to verify the suitability statewide assessment results for student learning growth measures;
  • require the commissioner to provide schools access to individual student learning growth data in a user-friendly format that enables teachers and school administrators to understand, evaluate, and use the data for specified purposes;
  • require the commissioner to contract for an independent study to determine whether the SAT and ACT may be administered in lieu of the grade 10 statewide, standardized ELA assessment and the Algebra I EOC assessment consistent with federal provisions for locally-selected assessments under the Every Student Succeeds Act; and
  • provide for appropriations related to the assessment study, reporting of student assessment results, the transition of certain statewide, standardized assessments to a paper-based format, and the provisions for student learning growth.

The bill passed the Education Committee last week.  A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 926 by Senator Anitere Flores (R – Miami), passed the Rules Committee.

CS/SB 984-- Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities by Senator Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville), provides legislative intent to increase the number of school districts that open their playground facilities to community use outside of school hours to improve public access to recreational facilities and reduce the impact of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases on personal health and health care expenditures. Specifically, the bill:

  • Establishes a Shared Use Task Force to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and make recommendations to facilitate the shared use of school facilities generally and in high-need communities, specifies membership of the task force, and requires the task force to submit a report to the Legislature by October 1, 2017.
  • Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding the shared use of school facilities.
  • Specifies additional duties that the DOE must perform with funds as established in the General Appropriations Act.

The bill passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre K – 12 Education after it was amended to clarify responsibilities of the DOE.  The House companion, HB 1131 by Representative Brad Drake (R – DeFuniak Springs), is waiting to be heard by the full House.

Update on Bills

CS/SB 1668 -- Use of State Funds by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), provides a limitation on certain lodging expenses that may be reimbursed for a state agency or judicial branch employee. The bill authorizes such employees to expend their own funds on lodging expenses that exceed $150 per day. In addition, the bill prohibits the use of state funds for the purchase of alcoholic beverages and the purchase of food or beverages for certain state agency appreciation events.

The bill was amended last week to remove section 2, pertaining to Maximum Cost Per Square Foot for New State-Funded Building Construction, and Remove section 3, pertaining to State Agency Legislative Budget Requests.  The bill passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and is waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Committee.  A comparable bill in the House, HB 479 by Representative Larry Metz (R – Groveland, FSU Alum), has passed the House and been received in the Senate.

CS/CS/SB 868 Educational Options and Services by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Ocala, FSU Alum), expands educational options and services to prepare students for higher education and entry into the workforce. Specifically, the bill:

  • Repeals the eligibility criteria for students to participate in virtual instruction programs.
  • Removes the requirement that student enrollment in a virtual instruction program be limited to a program provided by a school district or virtual charter school operated by the district in which the student resides.
  • Clarifies that students with disabilities must be offered the option to pursue a scholar or merit designation, removes the option for a certificate of completion, and modifies the criteria to document mastery of academic and employment competencies.
  • Requires an individualized progress monitoring plan be developed for all students in a juvenile justice education program, including those with disabilities.
  • Adds the Chancellor of Career and Adult Education to the Higher Education Coordinating Council.
  • Requires that any institution seeking initial or continued approval of a graduate-level teacher education program in a certification area that does not require a graduate degree must provide students the option to complete the initial preparation program at the bachelor’s level.
  • Revises the dual enrollment program to clarify the description of career dual enrollment, authorize the Commissioner of Education to establish a statewide articulation agreement for the Florida Virtual School, and expand the rulemaking authority of the State Board of Education to specify rulemaking relating to student eligibility and participation, courses and programs, funding, and articulation agreements.
  • Deems participants in on-the-job training activities administered by the Division of Blind Services (DBS) and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) as employees of the state for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage.

The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee.  The House companion, HB 833 by Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R – Eustis), is waiting to be heard by the full House.

SB 1474 – Teacher Certification by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), modifies the process for earning temporary educator certificates and renewing professional certificates. Specifically, the bill requires the Florida Department of Education to issue:

  • A professional certificate to any applicant who fulfills the statutory requirements for a professional certificate and completes a professional preparation and education competency program approved by the DOE.
  • A temporary certificate to a qualifying applicant within 14 calendar days after the receipt of the request form and electronically notify the applicant’s employing school district or employing private school that the temporary certificate has been issued.
    • Requires the DOE to issue an official statement of status of eligibility within 90 calendar days after the stamped receipt date of the completed application. This statement must be provided electronically and specify every method by which an applicant can complete the qualifications for a professional certificate.

Additionally, the bill revises the professional development certification and education competency program to specify a teacher mentorship and induction component; and authorizes charter schools and charter management organizations to provide the program that includes the teacher mentorship and induction component.

The bill passed the Education Committee last week. A similar bill in the House, HB 1111 by Representative Rene Plasencia (R – Titusville), is waiting to be heard by the full House.

CS/HB 1235 Military and Veteran Support by Representative Chris Latvala (R – Clearwater), provides benefits to active duty service-members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to expedite the processing of educator certification requests for the spouse of a military service-member and extends the validity period of a temporary educator certificate for two additional years; and
  • Provides legislative intent regarding the collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors on issues related to academic credit for military training and coursework, student progression and success, and student services.

The bill was amended last week to include $125,000 for the FDVA website development and maintenance. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1588 by Senator Jack Latvala (R – Clearwater), appears on the Appropriations Committee agenda tomorrow.

CS/SB 396 – Student Loan Debt by Senator Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville), requires postsecondary institutions to annually provide students with specified information regarding their student loans. The Bill passed the Legislature and is awaiting action by the Governor.

CS/SB 926 – Education by Senator Anitere Flores (R – Miami), was amended last week by the Education Committee.  The committee substitute differs from the original bill in the following ways:

  • Adds provisions related to K-12 student assessments to:
    • Require a school district to provide student performance results on statewide, standardized assessments to the  parents of students in an easy-to-read and understandable format.
    • Require the Commissioner of Education to contract for an independent study to determine nationally recognized high school assessment alternatives for Florida Standards Assessment (i.e., grade 9 and grade 10 ELA) and Algebra I end-of-course (EOC) assessments for high school students; and to submit a report on the findings of the study to the Governor and the Legislature by January 1, 2018.
    • Require the commissioner to identify, by the first day of the 2017-2018 school year, concordant or comparative scores on specified articulated acceleration mechanisms, which satisfy high school graduation requirements; and requires the scores of students who pass such assessments to be incorporated into the school grade calculations.
    • Eliminate the Geometry, Algebra II, and United States History EOC assessments for purposes of meeting high school graduation requirements and earning scholar designation on the standard high school diploma except that a student must take one statewide, standardized mathematics assessment in high school, which must be Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II. Additionally, the bill eliminates the Civics EOC assessment for purposes of middle grades promotion.
    • Require the commissioner to make available a non-electronic option for all statewide assessments to reduce the time spent on testing, increase instructional time for students, and ensure students demonstrate a mastery of standards assessed. Additionally, a district school superintendent must notify the commissioner that the district will use a non-electronic option for the entire district or for specific grade levels throughout the district by the beginning of the school year in which the non-electronic option is used.
    • Require the Department of Education to study each of the achievement levels used for statewide, standardized assessments to better communicate the meaning of such levels to students, parents, and teachers.
    • Authorize each school district to measure student learning growth using formulas developed by the commissioner.
  • Adds provisions related to:
    • Expansion of the Minority teacher education scholars program to authorize a student to use the program scholarship toward a graduate degree with a major in education, leading to an initial certification.
    • Committee on Early Childhood Development to create the committee within the DOE, to develop a proposal for establishing and implementing a coordinated system focused on developmental milestones and outcomes for the school readiness program, the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, and the Kindergarten Readiness Screener.
    • Intensive reading instruction -- authorizes a school district to provide the required intensive reading instruction for the 90 minutes daily over the course of the school day to students who are retained in grade 3, and eliminates the requirement to provide such instruction for 90 continuous minutes daily.
    • Authorization of an individual member of a district school board to visit any district or charter school in his or her school district on any day and at any time. The bill passed the Rules Committee last week.  A House companion, HB 1139 by Representative Tracie Davis (D – Jacksonville), is waiting to be heard by the full House.