LegisLetter: July 07, 2017

Volume 24, Number 9

It took a little longer, and we had more downs and ups than expected, but the 2017 Legislative Session(s) have concluded.

Previous editions of the Legisletter covered most of the details on the back and forth of the policy and appropriations process. This edition will provide the final quick budget guide which reflects the outcome of all of the actions by the Legislature and the Governor in the regular and special sessions.

There is also a list of the bills that were passed in the special session, as well as the last batch of bills vetoed by the Governor.

The most notable veto for Florida’s Higher Education System is SB 374.  The bill included several new programs for universities and students including increasing financial aid, authorizing Bright Futures Scholarships for some students in the summer, Increasing the amount awarded for some Bright Futures Scholars, creating the World Class Faculty and Scholars program, and creating the Graduate School Excellence program.

Though SB 374 was vetoed, the funds for each of the programs were included in the budget and approved by Governor Scott. Therefore, the programs will be implemented for one year. Legislators will decide whether or not to pass a bill next session to make the programs permanent.

There is a strong likelihood that the legislature will pass a bill next session with many of the provisions found in SB 374. There was no notable opposition to the university portions of the bill; in fact, Governor Scott’s veto letter included a statement of his support. The bill was vetoed, according to Governor Scott, because of the portions of the bill that changed the governance structure of Florida’s State College System, and capped the number of bachelor degrees offered by state colleges.

Also included in SB 374 were the changes to university and college Direct Support Organizations (DSOs). The bill prohibited the transfer of state dollars to a DSO for travel expenses and set a date when universities could no longer pay for DSO employees with state funds (2022). Although this bill was vetoed, we expect to see the legislature take up the changes again next session.

Speaking of next session, it will be here before we know it. The 2018 Legislative Session begins on January 9. We will be working through the summer, meeting with legislators and staff to educate them on the important work going on at Florida State University.

Thank you for subscribing to the Legisletter. It has been a privilege to share updates and information. We look forward to bringing you more news in just a few months.

Until then, if you have questions, suggestions, or would like more information, please contact our office at 850-644-4453.

2017-18 Budget

After months of work and a special session, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed the $82.4 billion 2017-18 budget. Following is a breakdown of issues relating to Florida State. For a printable guide to this year’s budget click here.

Page Description Line Item
44 Operating Budget    
  General Revenue $278,204,047 141
    Included in the base:  
      Boys and Girls State Housing (R) $100,000  
      Charles Hilton Endowed Professorship (R) $300,000 VETOED  
HB 1A     College of Law – Scholarships (R) $846,763  
HB 1A     Florida Campus Compact (R) $514,926  
      Learning System Institute (R) $250,000 VETOED  
      Pepper Center Long Term Care Proposal (R) $250,000 VETOED  
      Student Veterans Center (R) $500,000  
    Non-recurring projects included in the base:  
  Health Equity Research Institute $750,000 VETOED 141
  Next Generation Ultra-High Field Magnets $300,000 VETOED  
  Tallahassee Veterans Legal Collaborative $200,000  
44 Preeminent & Emerging Preeminent State 141
  Research Universities – additional for FY-2017-18 $52,000,000 R  
  FSU Preeminence $17,333,333 R  
4 Lottery $35,233,672 12
46 Student and Other Fees $238,310,768 141
48 Student Financial Assistance $1,467,667 150
44 SUS Performance Based Incentive $520,000,000 141
  FSU Performance ($2,000,000 new) $81,815,085  
  College of Medicine  
48 General Revenue $35,289,974 146
  Student and Other Fees $13,019,086 146
  Evaluation of Behavioral Health System of Care In Florida (NR) $ 489,619 VETOED 146
  Lottery $ 605,115 16
101 FSU – College of Medicine – Immokalee (NR) $ 450,000 447
47 FAMU/FSU College of Engineering $14,384,389 142
6 SUS Capital Improvement Fee Projects $ 45,000,000 17
6 SUS FCO – Maintenance, Repair, Renovation And Remodeling – $45,562,241 18
  FSU – Maint. Repair. Reno … $6,500,000  
8 Earth Ocean Atmospheric Science Building $16,040,737 21
  College of Business Building $5,000,000  
HB 1A Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Bld. $6,774,101  
HB 1A Stem Teaching Lab $4,233,813  
  Land Acquisition $4,000,000 VETOED  
9 PECO -- WFSU-TV, Replace Studio Lighting $ 650,000 26
7 SUS Lab School – PECO
Proviso: …shall be distributed among the lab schools based upon full-time equivalent student membership.
$5,293,588 19
7 FSU Lab School Arts and Sciences Building (STEAM) $7,500,000 19
17 Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance/GAP
Proviso: … 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 NR 73
27 Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource Ctr. General Revenue – FSU $450,000 R 98
28 Autism/CARD - FSU College of Medicine General Revenue $ 1,224,008 R 104
31 Communication/Autism Navigator – FSU Col of Medicine $ 1,353,292 R 1111
32 Public Broadcasting 119
  Statewide Gov. & Cultural Affairs Programming $497,522  
  Florida Channel Closed Captioning - GR $ 390,862  
  Florida Channel Year Round Coverage – GR +proviso $2,562,588  
  FSU – Public Television $ 307,447  
  FSU – Public Radio Stations $ 100,000  
  FSU – Satellite Transponder $ 800,000  
  Public Radio Stations Recurring Base Appropriations Project $166,270  
  Proviso… From the funds provided in Specific Appropriation 119, "Governmental Affairs for Public Television" shall be produced by the same contractor selected by the Legislature to produce "The Florida Channel".

From the funds provided in Specific Appropriation 119 for the Florida Channel Satellite Transponder Operations, the Florida Channel shall contract for the leasing, management and operation of the state transponder with the same public broadcasting station that produces the Florida Channel.

46 Performance Incentives 119
  Proviso … $520,000,000 is provided for State University System Performance Based Incentives. The funds available for allocation to the universities based on the performance funding model shall consist of the state’s investment of $245,000,000 in performance funding, plus an institutional investment of $275,000,000 consisting of funds to be redistributed from the base funding of the State University System…  
44 Proviso: …the Board of Governors Foundation shall distribute $237,500 to state universities for Johnson Scholarships in accordance with section 1009.75, F.S… 141
23 Proviso: From the funds provided in Specific Appropriations 7 and 91, $52,800,000 is provided for the Sparsity Supplement as defined in section 1011.62(7), Florida Statutes, for school districts of 24,000 and fewer FTE in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. FSUS receives a portion of the Sparsity supplement. 91
106 FSU Panama City Campus – Rural Northwest Florida Mosquito Surveillance $700,000 (NR)  
198 Proviso$1,000,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds is provided to Florida State University Panama City to support participation of the Underwater Crime Scene Investigation program in the Joint Agency In-Water Strike (JAWS) 1234
339 Proviso … may be utilized to promote and enhance collaborative research among State Universities. The Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model located at Florida International University may consult with the private sector and the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center … $969,689 2493
420 State Health Insurance Plans and Benefits – Proviso
State Paid Premiums
…For coverage period beginning August 1, 2017, the state share shall continue at the current rate….
Section 8
421 Proviso… Each state agency, at the discretion of the agency head, may expend funds provided in this act for bar dues and for legal education courses for employees who are required to be a member of the Florida Bar as a condition of employment. Section 8
425 Proviso -- …facilities may be constructed or acquired from non-appropriated sources, which upon completion will require general revenue funds to operate.

Florida State University - Teaching Pavilion - Will provide teaching space for outdoor programs and academic activities, 400 gsf.

Florida State University - Administrative Annex West College Avenue - Property being acquired through the university’s land acquisition program, will be used to house E&G functions, 6,500 gsf.

Florida State University - Academic Annex South Duval Street - Project being acquired through the university’s land acquisition program, will be used to house E&G functions, 16,316 gsf.

Florida State University - Research Annex Maryland Circle - Project being acquired through the university’s land acquisition program, will be used to house E&G functions, 33,500 gsf.

Florida State University - College of Medicine Annex South Appleyard Drive - Project being acquired through the university’s land acquisition program, will be used to house E&G functions, 6,500 gsf.

Florida State University - Visitors Center Expansion - Addition will support expanding performing and visual arts programs at the Ringling Cultural Center, 7,000 gsf.

Section 9
1 Proviso – No funds are appropriated in Specific Appropriations 1 – 161 for the payment of rent, lease or possession of space for offices or any other purpose or use at Northwood Centre, 140 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida, pursuant to State of Florida Lease Nos. 720:0139, 480:04570, 480:0644 or 480;M139 or Florida State University Lease No 2011:101, or any other lease, by the Department of Education or any state university, notwithstanding any lease or contract to the contrary. The Department of Education and all state universities are is prohibited from expending any specific appropriation from the General Revenue Fund, any trust fund or from any other source for the rent, lease or possession of any space for offices or other purpose or use at Northwood Centre, 1940 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida, pursuant to State of Florida Lease Nos. 720:0139, 480:04570, 480:0644 or 480;M139 or Florida State University Lease No 2011:101, or any other lease. Section 1
2 Bright Futures Scholarship Program --
Proviso -- …$39,465,544, along with any unexpended funds from the fall and spring term award disbursements, is provided for 2018 summer term awards for Academic Scholars only at 100 percent of tuition and applicable fees …

Academic Scholars shall receive an award equal to 100 percent of tuition and applicable fees, and an additional $300 each fall and spring for textbooks and college-related expenses …

$397,282,030 4

Note: Page numbers are in correlation with the printed page numbers, there may be some variation from the online page numbers.

The budget may be found at: www.flsenate.gov

R = Recurring
NR = Non-recurring

Final Spotlight

Special Session Bills that Passed

HB 1A – Economic Development by Representative Paul Renner (R – Palm Coast), makes the following changes and additions to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation (Visit Florida or VF) and Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI):

  • Eliminates the Displaced Homemaker Program
  • Terminates the Displaced Homemaker Trust Fund
  • Reduces the surcharge on marriage license applications by $7.50 from $59.50 to $52.00
  • Redirects a portion of the fees on dissolution of marriage filings from the Displaced Homemaker Trust Fund to the General Revenue Fund
  • Institutes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures on Visit Florida and EFI
  • Creates the Targeted Marketing Assistance Program
  • Creates the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund
  • Directs the Florida Department of Revenue to audit the Professional Golf Hall of Fame
  • Requires the Professional Golf Hall of Fame to provide the state with certain information
  • Redirects $75 million of revenue from the State Economic Enhancement and Development Trust Fund to the General Revenue Fund The reduction of the surcharge on marriage license applications under s. 741.01, F.S., from $59.50 to $52.00, is anticipated to have a negative recurring impact to state revenue of approximately $1.2 million. The repeal of the Displaced Homemaker Program reflects an elimination of a $2 million recurring appropriation in the General Appropriations Act for FY 2017-18.

In addition, the bill provides the following appropriations:

  • $76 million to DEO to enter into a contract with VF;
  • $16 million to DEO to enter into a contract with EFI; and
  • $85 million ($60 million to DEO and $25 million to the Department of Transportation) for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

Additionally, the bill reinstated several higher education projects that were vetoed by the Governor.  Flor Florida State those projects reinstated are:

  • College of Law Scholarships $846,763
  • Florida College Compact - $514,926
  • Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Building - $6,774,101
  • Stem Teaching Lab - $4,233,813

The effective date of this bill is July 1, 2017. Chapter Law 2017-233

HB 3A – Florida Education Finance Program by Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. (R – Hialeah Garden), addresses funding for K-12 schools that was vetoed by the Governor in the General Appropriations Act.  The bill adds an additional $215 million for the Florida Education Finance Program and reinstates the vetoes for class size reduction and district lottery funding.

The bill is effective July 1, 2017. Chapter Law 2017-234

Bills that Passed

SB 374 – Postsecondary Education by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange), a comprehensive higher education bill that created the Florida Higher Education Act of 2017. VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR

SB 7022 – State-administered Retirement Systems by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Ocala, FSU Alum), relating to public employees, makes the following substantial changes:

  • Amends provisions of the State Group Health Insurance Program (Program).
    • For plan year 2020 and thereafter, the Department of Management Services (DMS) must offer four health insurance coverage levels of at least a certain actuarial value under the Program as follows: Platinum – 90 percent, Gold – 80 percent, Silver – 70 percent, and Bronze – 60 percent. If the state’s contribution is more than the premium cost of the health plan selected by the employee, the bill specifies that the employee will be permitted to allocate unused state health insurance contributions to other benefits or as salary. The DMS must recommend contribution policies and employee education strategies regarding the coverage levels and other benefit alternatives.
    • Beginning with plan year 2018, the DMS is authorized to procure new types of health care products and services. For plan year 2018, the DMS must contract with an entity to provide enrollees with an online cost comparison for health care services and providers and at least one entity that provides comprehensive pricing and inclusive services for surgery and other medical procedures. Enrollees may access these services and share in any savings to the plan. The DMS must report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on certain criteria, including cost-savings to both enrollees and the state resulting from implementation of the Internet-based platform and the comprehensive services.
    • The DMS must competitively procure an independent benefits consultant to assist the agency in developing a plan for implementation of the new benefit levels in the Program. This plan must be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2019.
    • By October 1, 2017, the DMS must calculate alternative premium rates that reflect the differences in costs to the Program for each of the health maintenance organizations and the preferred provider organization plan options for the 2018 plan year.
    • For Plan Year 2019, the DMS must determine and recommend premiums for enrollees that reflect the differences in costs to the Program for each of the health maintenance organizations and the preferred provider organization plan options. The premium rate for the employers used in this report will be the premiums established in the general appropriations act for fiscal year 2018-2019.
    • The bill appropriates $151,216 in recurring funds and $507,546 in nonrecurring funds from the State Employees Health Insurance Trust Fund to DMS and authorizes 2 fulltime equivalent positions and $120,000 of associated salary rate for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to implement the act.
  • Amends the Florida Retirement System (FRS).
    • Renewed membership is permitted in the investment plan or one of the optional annuity retirement plans for certain former participants of those plans;
    • The survivor benefit for investment plan members killed in the line of duty was expanded to include all members of the investment plan and made the provisions, including those pertaining to the Special Risk Class, retroactive to 2002;
    • The Senior Management Service Optional Annuity Program is closed to new members
    • The default for members failing to elect participation in either the pension plan or the investment plan is set to:
    • The pension plan for enrollees in positions within the Special Risk Class; and
    • The investment plan for all other members.
    • The period allowed to initially select a plan in which to participate is extended by 3 months.
    • The employer contribution rates are increased to fund FRS’s normal costs and unfunded actuarial liability and the costs of the new benefits offered under this legislation.
  • Provides pay adjustments to state employees and officers for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-088

SB 2508 – Division of State Group Insurance by Senator Jack Latvala (R – Clearwater), relates to the Division of State Group Insurance, and makes the following changes:

  • The DMS is permitted to contract with a vendor to conduct a dependent eligibility verification audit. The department is required to put all enrollees of the State Group Health Insurance Plan on notice regarding the eligibility requirements for dependents. Through the next open enrollment period for the plan, enrollees can remove dependents who are no longer eligible for coverage. Beginning in December 2017, a contractor will begin the eligibility audits, requesting and reviewing documents on each dependent to ensure eligibility requirements have been met. The documents submitted for this audit must be retained until June 30, 2019. After that date, the documents are no longer useful and may be destroyed.
  • The bill also updates the current statutory provisions relating to the State Employees Prescription Drug Program. The current copayment structure is codified so that it does not revert to the December 31, 2010 copayment levels each year. The current copayments of $7 for generic drugs, $30 for preferred brand name drugs, and $50 for non-preferred brand name drugs continue rather than reverting to $10 for generic drugs, $25 for preferred brand name drugs, and $40 for non-preferred brand name drugs.

Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-127

CS/HB 1079 – Public Records and Meetings/Campus Emergency Response for Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions by Representative Bob Rommel (R – Naples), creates an exemption from public record and public meeting requirements for information associated with a campus emergency response of a public postsecondary educational institution. “Campus emergency response” is defined as a public postsecondary educational institution’s response to or plan for responding to an act of terrorism or other public safety crisis or emergency.  Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-184

CS/SB 396 – Student Loan Debt by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange), requires certain postsecondary education institutions to provide information regarding student loans to each student annually or once during each academic year, and that such information must be provided in print or electronic format.  Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-092

CS/CS/HB 859 – Postsecondary Distance Education by Representative Amber Mariano (R – New Port Richey), establishes the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Coordinating Council within the Florida Department of Education (DOE).  The bill was amended to:

  • allow the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund to collect all fees from all institutions related to participating in the SARA;
  • provide a fee schedule and collect fees from each Florida SARA institution. The fees are based on a graduated scale of institutional enrollment. All fees collected shall be submitted through the DOE to the Chief Financial Officer for deposit into a separate account within the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund. The bill provides the fees will be assessed as follows:
    • $1,500/year for institutions with fewer than 2,500 FTE students;
    • $3,000/year for institutions between 2,500-9,999 FTE students;
    • $4,500/year for institutions with 10,000 or more FTE students;
  • provide a reporting requirement for the council; and
  • appropriate recurring funds of $225,534 from the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund and 2 FTE to the Department of Education to implement the requirements of the bill.

Effective upon becoming law – Chapter Law 2017-087

HB 543 – Regulation of Nursing by Representative Cary Pigman (R – Sebring), makes changes to nursing education program regulation. The bill authorizes the Board of Nursing (BON) to grant a one-year extension to a nursing education program that is on probation for failure to meet the graduate passage rate, if the program shows progress. The BON retains authority to terminate a program after the two-year probation period. A program on probation must notify its students and applicants of that status and its implications in writing. The bill removes a requirement that a nursing student who does not take the licensure examination within six months of graduation successfully complete a licensure examination preparatory course. The bill prohibits a program that was terminated or closed from reapplying for approval for three years. It authorizes the BON to adopt rules related to nursing education programs, and to perform an on-site evaluation of a nursing education program applicant. Finally, it eliminates annual reports by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability on the status of nursing education programs, but requires the Florida Center for Nursing to issue the annual reports and include an assessment progress accreditation status for certain nursing programs The bill makes various changes to many other programs at DOH.

Additionally, the bill:

  • Authorizes DOH to request a date of birth on a licensure application and removes requirements for the size and forms of licenses
  • Requires DOH to deny license renewal of an applicant who owes fines and costs imposed in a licensure disciplinary proceeding unless the applicant has received an extension of time to pay;
  • Authorizes a regulatory board or DOH, if there is no board, to transfer funds from a profession’s operating trust fund to cover a deficit related to prosecuting unlicensed activity and to waive licensure or renewal fees under certain circumstances;
  • Authorizes DOH to administer the Conrad 30 Waiver program, which allows a limited number international physicians, employed by a facility in an underserved area, to waive certain federal requirements;
  • Requires certain pain management clinics to register with DOH at no cost;
  • Authorizes any entity approved by the BON to offer the required 3-hour continuing education class on the safe and efficient prescription of controlled substances;
  • Requires an ARNP to maintain a copy of his or her protocol at the location the ARNP practices and if the ARNP works with multiple supervising physicians in a group practice, the ARNP has to enter into a protocol with at least one physician;
  • Establishes standards for permitting and regulating in-state sterile compounding pharmacies and outsourcing facilities;
  • Authorizes DOH to issue a single license to a prosthetist-orthotist;
  • Establishes a path to licensure for certain students enrolled in physical therapist assistant programs; and
  • Updated national licensure examinations for marriage and family therapists; etc.

Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-134.

SB 436 – Religious Expression in Public Schools by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Ocala, FSU Alum), creates the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” protecting K-12 public school students, their parents, and school personnel from discrimination based on their religious belief and expression.

The bill protects students from discrimination based on their religion in several ways. Regarding coursework, the bill requires that students’ work be graded according to the expected academic standards, without regard for any religious content. Also, if students in a given school setting are permitted to wear clothing, jewelry, or accessories that display a secular message or symbol, then students may also wear items displaying religious messages or symbols. Moreover, the bill authorizes students to express themselves in a religious manner, and to engage in and organize religious activities to the same extent as secular expressions and activities are permitted.

The bill protects school personnel from discrimination in several ways. First, school districts may not discriminate against their employees on religious grounds. Also, school personnel may not be barred from joining in certain types of student-initiated religious activities. This protection includes several caveats, including that the activity must be on school grounds, occur at reasonable times before or after school, be voluntary, and not conflict with the duties of the employee joining the student-initiated activity.

The bill protects religious groups from discrimination by requiring school districts to permit these groups access to the same facilities for assembly that it permits such access to secular groups. The bill requires school districts to adopt a policy establishing a “limited public forum” for student speakers at certain school events.

Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-074

HB 501 – Public Records and Meetings/Information Technology/Postsecondary Education Institutions by Representative Thomas Leek (R-Daytona Beach), provides that the following records held by a state university or Florida College System institution are confidential and exempt from public record requirements:

  • Records that identify detection, investigation, or response practices for suspected or confirmed information technology security incidents, including suspected or confirmed breaches, if the disclosure of such records would facilitate unauthorized access to or unauthorized modification, disclosure, or destruction of data or information or information technology resources; and
  • Those portions of risk assessments, evaluations, audits, and other reports of the university’s or institution’s information technology security program for its data, information, and information technology resources, if the disclosure of such records would facilitate unauthorized access to or unauthorized modification, disclosure, or destruction of data or information or information technology resources.

The bill exempts from public meeting requirements those portions of a meeting that would reveal data or information that is made confidential and exempt by this bill. The meeting must be recorded and transcribed, but the recording and transcript of such a meeting must remain confidential and exempt from public disclosure. The bill provides that such confidential and exempt information must be provided to specified entities. The bill provides for repeal of the exemption on October 2, 2022, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.  Effective upon becoming law – Chapter Law 2017-109

HB 989 – Instructional Materials by Representative Byron Donalds (R – Naples, FSU Alum), provides for greater transparency in the district-level adoption process and more opportunities to review and challenge materials made available to students by:

  • allowing parents and residents of the county to provide the district school board evidence that an instructional material for adoption by the district does not meet the state criteria, contains prohibited content, or is otherwise inappropriate or unsuitable;
  • defining the terms “resident” and “purchase;”
  • allowing county residents to contest the adoption of an instructional material and object to the use of a material made available to students;
  • requiring the process for contesting the adoption of an instructional material to provide for an impartial hearing officer and to provide certain procedural protections;
  • requiring school districts to discontinue use of a material found to be inappropriate or unsuitable;
  • requiring school districts to provide access to library materials upon written request;
  • requiring school districts to maintain a current list of purchased instructional materials on their websites;
  • requiring that instructional materials purchased using the instructional materials allocation be on the state-adopted list unless purchased through a district instructional materials program;
  • requiring that instructional materials purchased through a district instructional materials program meet the criteria for inclusion in the state-adopted list, be aligned to the state academic standards, and be consistent with course expectations and course descriptions;
  • eliminating the requirement that 50 percent of the instructional materials allocation be used to purchase electronic or digital materials; and
  • clarifying that a school district is responsible for the content of all materials made available to students, including those that may not meet the statutory definition of an instructional material.

The bill also specifies that an instructional material must be free of content that is pornographic or harmful to minors in order to be recommended for inclusion in the state-adopted list and that any material used in a classroom must also be free of such content. Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-177

HB 7069 – Best and Brightest Teachers and Principals by Representative Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), is a comprehensive K – 20 education bill that: 

  • extends the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program through the 2019-2020 school year, revises scholarship award amounts, revises eligibility criteria beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, and provides additional bonus awards for teachers rated highly effective and effective through the 2019-2020 school year; 
  • establishes the Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program to award qualifying principals a scholarship amount and provide certain administrative flexibilities;
  • establishes the Schools of Hope program to encourage traditional public schools within the state and charter operators throughout the country with a proven track record of student success in low-income areas to replicate their model and serve students from persistently low-performing schools;
  • creates the Schools of Excellence program to provide administrative flexibilities to certain schools;
  • expedites school improvement by requiring school districts to provide principals with greater autonomy, enter into a memorandum of understanding with the teacher’s union regarding the recruitment and retention of teachers at “D” or “F” schools, and select and implement a turnaround plan once a school earns two consecutive school grades of “D” or a grade of “F;” eliminating the hybrid turnaround option; including a district-operated charter school as a turnaround option; and requiring the Commissioner of Education to assign a community assessment team the first time a school earns a grade of "D" or "F";
  • fosters the development of civic literacy throughout the K-20 education system by authorizing the Governor to designate the month of September as American Founder’s Month; establishing civic literacy as a priority of the K-20 education system; requiring the Just Read, Florida! Office to develop curricular programming to help build student background knowledge and literacy skills; and requiring public postsecondary students to demonstrate civic literacy;
  • streamlines the temporary certificate application process;
  • establishes a mentorship-based certification pathway;
  • revises provisions related to charter schools and expands eligibility for virtual education options; reduces state testing, pushes back testing dates, and provides for paper-based tests in certain grades;
  • requires state testing results to be timely provided to teachers and parents in an easy-to-read format;
  • requires district-required testing results to be provided to teachers within 1 week; · expands eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship Program and authorizes additional expenditures;
  • expressly authorizes students to possess and use sunscreen on campus without a prescription;
  • provides for permitted absences for treatment of autism spectrum disorder;
  • requires school districts to provide instruction to students in residential health care facilities;
  • revises the way funds are provided to school districts, including by:
    • requiring school districts to share discretionary millage revenue with charter schools;
    • establishing a Safe Schools funding allocation;
    • modifying eligibility criteria and funding methodology for the high-growth district program; and
    • modifying the sparsity supplement and certain funding allocations;
  • redefines “eligible student” for purposes of the College-preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program;
  • requires certain students who transfer to a private school to count towards a school’s graduation rate;
  • includes concordant scores in calculating an alternative school’s school improvement rating;
  • exempts students who meet certain requirements from the personal fitness exam;
  • allows a blended learning course to satisfy the online course required for high school graduation;
  • provides for third party analysis and reporting of student learning growth data;
  • makes use of the student learning growth formula in an educator’s performance evaluation optional;
  • revises provisions for identifying and supporting students with a substantial reading deficiency;
  • deletes the requirement that the instructional materials allocation be used to purchase digital materials;
  • extends early warning system coverage to include students in kindergarten through grade 8;
  • requires 20 minutes of consecutive free-play recess per day for K through 5 students;
  • establishes provisions related to shared use agreements for public school playground facilities;
  • makes the middle grades career and education planning course optional;
  • revises eligibility criteria for participation in the minority teacher education scholars program;
  • creates the Committee on Early Childhood Development to develop a proposal on certain milestones;
  • establishes the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program; and
  • allows designees of certain superintendents to participate on a children’s services board.

The bill includes an appropriation of $413,950,000 in recurring General Revenue Funds and $5 million in nonrecurring General Funds.

Effective July 1, 2017, except as otherwise provided (for schools of hope, certain school improvement provisions, certain capital outlay funding requirements which are effective upon becoming law).  Chapter Law 2017-116

HB 7109 – Taxation by Representative Jim Boyd (R – Bradenton, FSU Alum), provides for a wide range of tax reductions and modifications that affect households and businesses and improve tax administration. Following  is a list of some of the tax changes included in the bill:

  • Allows low-income residents of homes for the aged to prove their income by providing an affidavit to the property appraiser;
  • Provides a 50 percent discount in property taxes to certain multifamily, low-income housing projects;
  • Repeals several annual license taxes and registration fees;
  • Repeals a cigarette tax distribution to the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute;
  • Reduces the state sales tax rate on the rental of commercial real estate from 6.0 percent to 4.5 percent for two years, beginning January 1, 2018, then maintains a permanent tax rate reduction from 6.0 percent to 5.5 percent, beginning January 1, 2020;
  • Sets forth procedures for certain resellers of admissions to receive a refund of taxes paid when they make a sale to a tax-exempt person; Repeals a requirement that a tax notice be placed on vending machines, and the related penalty;
  • Exempts from sales tax certain animal health products and other agricultural items;
  • Exempts from sales tax certain purchases made by municipally-owned golf course operators;
  • Exempts from sales tax products used to control menstrual flow;
  • Exempts from sales tax diapers and incontinence products;
  • Provides an annual sales tax holiday for veterans;
  • Exempts from sales tax certain purchases of tangible personal property by related companies covered by the federal Dodd-Frank Act;
  • Increases the amount of Research and Development Tax Credits that may be taken against the Corporate Income Tax from $9 million to $20 million for calendar year 2018;
  • Redefines “beer” for purposes of the beverage law;
  • Exempts from sales tax the sale of college textbooks and instructional materials for one year;
  • Provides a ten-day “back-to-school” holiday for clothing, footwear, school supplies, and computers; and
  • Provides a nine-day “disaster preparedness” holiday for certain items related to disaster preparedness.

The total fiscal impact of the bill in Fiscal Year 2017-2018 is a reduction of $296.7 million. Effective July 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-036

HB 39 – Autism Awareness Training for Law Enforcement Officers by Representative Evan Jenne (D – Hollywood, FSU Alum), requires FDLE to establish a continuing education training (CET) component relating to Autism Spectrum Disorder. The training must include, but is not limited to, instruction on the recognition of the symptoms and characteristics of an individual on the autism disorder spectrum and appropriate responses to such individuals. Completion of the training may count toward a law enforcement officer’s required 40 hours of CET.  Effective October 1, 2017 – Chapter Law 2017-043