LegisLetter: March 20, 2018

Volume 25, Number 10

It was a tremendous year for Florida State University! We survived nearly unscathed from the Governor’s veto pen on Friday. All of our building projects, all of our operational increases, and nearly all of our projects were approved.

In this final edition of the 2018 Session Legisletter, you will find the comprehensive budget guide and a list of all of the legislation of interest that passed and failed.

In short, here are the building projects that were passed by the legislature and approved by the Governor:

Earth Ocean Atmospheric Sciences $12,900,000
Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building $9,500,000
College of Business $8,500,000
Florida High Emergency Hurricane Shelter $2,000,000
TOTAL $32,900,000

Here are the increases to our base budget for fiscal year 2018-2019:

Funding Description System Allocation Estimated FSU Share Recurring Estimated FSU Share Nonrecurring
Preeminence $20,000,000 $6,100,000  
World Class Scholars $20,000,000 $3,200,000  
Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence $10,000,000 $1,800,000  
Performance $40,000,000 $900,000 $1,924,000
National Ranking Enhancements $15,000,000 $3,450,000 $4,050,000
Veterans Legal Collaborative     $400,000
JAWS     $650,000
Rural Northwest Mosquito Surveillance     $578,000
TOTAL $105,000,000 $15,450,000 $7,602,000

Finally, Florida State University was honored to be invited to the bill signing ceremony for SB 4, the Excellence in Higher Education Act.  President Thrasher and three of our outstanding student government leaders stood side by side with Governor Scott as he signed this transformational legislation.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Permanently expanding the Bright Futures scholarships to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for Florida Academic Scholars and 75 percent for Florida Medallion Scholars;
  • Expanding the Bright Futures scholarships to cover summer courses for Florida Academic Scholars beginning summer 2018 and Florida Medallion Scholars beginning in 2019;
  • Strengthening performance funding metrics for graduation rates, changing standards from six-years to four-years to complete a degree, which will ensure state universities continue to focus on helping students graduate on time; and
  • Requiring state universities to find internship opportunities for students, which will help students better prepare to enter the workforce and find jobs in high-demand fields upon graduation.

Kathy Mears

Quick Budget Guide HB 5001

Page Description Line Item
41 Operating Budget    
  General Revenue $296,672,637 143
  Included in the base:    
  Boys and Girls State Housing (R) $100,000  
  Charles Hilton Endowed Professorship (R) $300,000 VETOED  
  College of Law – Scholarships (R) $846,763  
  Florida Campus Compact (R) $514,926 VETOED  
  Student Veterans Center (R) $500,000  
  Non-recurring projects included in the base:    
  Tallahassee Veteran Legal Collaborative $400,000  
  Preeminent & Emerging Preeminent State    
  Research Universities – additional for FY-2018-19 $20,000,000  
  FSU Preeminence $6,100,000 15
5 Lottery $42,137,298 143
41 Student and Other Fees $238,310,768 152
46 Student Financial Assistance $1,467,667  
44 SUS Performance Based Incentive (proviso) $560,000,000  
  FSU Performance $900,000 (R), $1,924,000 (NR)  

  College of Medicine    
45 General Revenue   149
  Student and Other Fees $13,019,086  
5 Lottery $605,115 19

44 FAMU/FSU College of Engineering $14,410,073 144

6 SUS Capital Improvement Fee Projects $40,000,000 20
  SUS FCO – Maintenance, Repair, Renovation And Remodeling – $47,182,459 21
  FSU – Maint. Repair. Reno …    
7 Earth Ocean Atmospheric Science Building $12,959,263 24
  College of Business Building $8,500,000  
  Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Bld. $9,500,000  

7 SUS Lab School – PECO
Proviso: …shall be distributed among the lab schools based upon full-time equivalent student membership.
$6,194,326 22

436 FSU Lab School – Hurricane Special Needs Shelter $2,000,000 Section 99

16 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) 74

26 Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource Ctr. General Revenue – FSU $450,000 (R) 99

26 Autism/CARD - FSU College of Medicine General Revenue $1,224,008 (R) 105

30 Communication/Autism Navigator – FSU Col of Medicine $1,353,292 (R) 112

32 Public Broadcasting   121
  Statewide Gov. & Cultural Affairs Programming $497,522  
  Florida Channel Closed Captioning - GR $390,862  
  Florida Channel Year Round Coverage – GR +proviso $2,714,588  
  FSU – Public Television $307,447  
  FSU – Public Radio Stations $100,000  
  FSU – Satellite Transponder $800,000  
  Public Radio Stations Recurring Base Appropriations Project $1,300,000  
  Proviso… From the funds provided in Specific Appropriation 121, "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 121 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.

44 Performance Incentives
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 $265,000,000 in performance funding, plus an institutional investment of $295,000,000 consisting of funds to be redistributed from the base funding of the State University System…
$560,000,000 143

42 Proviso: …the Board of Governors Foundation shall distribute $237,500 to state universities for Johnson Scholarships in accordance with section 1009.75, F.S… 143

22 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 2018-2019 fiscal year. FSUS receives a portion of the Sparsity supplement. 92

103 FSU Panama City Campus – Rural Northwest Florida Mosquito Surveillance $578,544 (NR) 475

197 Proviso …$650,000 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) 1229

337 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 2483
408 Proviso …$386,120 in nonrecurring general revenue is provided to contract with the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy at Florida State University… VETOED 3142

417 State Health Insurance Plans and Benefits – Proviso
State Paid Premiums
a. For the coverage period beginning August 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018, the state share of the State Group Health Insurance Standard and High Deductible Health Plan premiums to the executive, legislative and judicial branch agencies shall continue at $642.84 per month for individual coverage and $1,379.60 per month for family coverage.
b. For the coverage period, beginning January 1, 2019, the state share of the State Group Health Insurance Standard and High Deductible Health Plan premiums to the executive, legislative and judicial branch agencies shall increase, effective December 1, 2018, from $642.84 to $684.42 per month for individual coverage and from $1,379.60 to $1,473.18 for family coverage.
Section 8

418 State Health Insurance Plans and Benefits – Proviso
Employee Paid Premiums
a. For the coverage period beginning August 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018, the employee share of the health insurance premiums for the standard plans shall continue to be $50 per month for individual coverage and $180 per month for family coverage.
e. For the coverage period beginning January 1, 2019, employee premiums shall be established pursuant to the provisions in section 87 of HB 5003, effective December 1, 2018. Such premiums shall be established to reflect the relative difference in cost to the program for each of the health plan options provided in the state group insurance program, and will be calculated in a manner that is actuarially neutral, in total funds generated, to the employee premiums currently in effect.

420 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

423 Proviso -- …facilities may be constructed or acquired from non-appropriated sources, which upon completion will require general revenue funds to operate.

FSU - Minor Projects for FSU Facilities - Minor projects that will be completed in the university’s E&G facilities for which general revenue funds will be necessary for operation and maintenance, 50,000 gsf.

FSU - Land Acquisition - Future facilities that will be acquired through the university’s land acquisition program, which will be utilized by E&G operations, 100,000 gsf.

FSU - Ceremonial Tea House - Academic annex to the Asian Art Center, 420 gsf, located in Sarasota.

Section 10

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.myfloridahouse.gov
R = Recurring
NR = Non-recurring

Spotlight on Bills

Bills that Passed

CS/SB 4 – Higher Education by Senator Bill Galvano (R – Bradenton), establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018” to expand financial aid provisions and incentivize postsecondary institutions to emphasize on-time graduation. The bill also expands policy and funding options for state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and enhance the quality of professional and graduate schools. The following is a summary of the bill:

University Accountability

  • Requires each state university use the gap analyses to identify internship opportunities for students to benefit from mentorship by industry experts, earn industry certifications, and become employed in high-demand fields.
  • Directs each university board of trustees, by June 1, 2018, to submit to the BOG a comprehensive plan to improve the 4-year graduation rate of undergraduate students for implementation beginning in the fall 2018 academic semester.  Includes assurances that there will be no increased cost to students.

Preeminent and Emerging Preeminent Universities

  • Revises the excellence standards for the Preeminent State Research Universities to a 4-year graduation rate of 60 percent or higher for full-time, first-time-in-college students, as reported annually to the IPEDS.  (The new standard does not impact the 2018 preeminence designations).
  • Eliminates the authority for the preeminent state research universities to require FTIC students to take a six-credit unique set of courses.
  • Cuts by half (1/4 from 1/2 of the amount given to a preeminent university) the amount awarded to a designated emerging preeminent state research university, beginning in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Programs of Excellence

  • Changes from a recommendation to a requirement that the Board of Governors establish standards and measures for programs of excellence throughout the SUS and specifies that the programs include undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Additionally, the bill requires the Board to make recommendations to the Legislature for enhancing and promoting such programs by September 1, 2018.

Performance Metrics

  • Revises the performance funding metrics beginning with the 2018 award determinations.
  • Revises the 6-year graduation rate metric to a 4-year metric for full-time, first-time-in-college students.
  • Requires the access metric to include benchmarks that must be differentiated and scored to reflect varying access rates among universities, and not include bonus points.
  • Requires the Board of Governors, in consultation with the universities, submit recommendations, by October 1, 2019, on the most efficient process to achieve a complete performance-based continuous improvement funding model focused on outcomes.
  • In addition to recommendations submitted by the Board of Governors, the Legislature will review recommendations from an independent entity that consults with the Board of Governors for the purpose of receiving input on behalf of the SUS. Implementation of any recommendations will not occur unless affirmatively enacted by the Legislature.

Free Expression on Campus

  • Creates the “Campus Free Expression Act” which prohibits public higher education institutions from restricting expressive activities.
  • Provides a cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief, including reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees, if a person’s expressive rights are violated.

Direct Support Organizations (DSOs)

  • Prohibits state university BOTs from permitting the use of state funds for travel expenses by any state university DSO.
  • DSOs are prohibited from giving, either directly or indirectly, any gift to a political committee.
  • Any information related to the expenditure of state funds, and any financial information related to the expenditure of private funds for travel are no longer confidential.
  • Board of trustees are required to establish thresholds for approval of purchases, acquisitions, projects, and issuance of debt.
  • Chair of the board of trustees are required to appoint at least one representative to the board of directors and the executive committee of any DSO and the board of trustees shall approve all other appointments.
  • Personal services for DSOs must comply with requirements for other state employees.
  • No later than July 1, 2019, university transfers of any state appropriation to direct-support organizations by a board of trustees may include only funds pledged for capital projects.
  • Each university board of trustees must annually report on the amount of appropriated funds that are transferred to a DSO, the purpose for each transfer, and the remaining balance, if any, of funds transferred.

Consolidation of USF

  • Establishes a task force to develop and implement a plan for phasing-out the separate accreditation of the USF St. Petersburg and USF Manatee/Sarasota campuses. 

World Class Faculty & Scholar Program

  • Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to support the efforts of state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and research scholars.

State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program

  • Establishes the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to enhance the quality and excellence of state university programs in medicine, law, and business.

Bright Futures

  • Expands the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses and the Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholars award to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees.
  • Authorizes the use of the Bright Futures Scholarship during the summer-term if funding is provided.

Grants and Scholarships

  • Revises the state-to-private match requirements for the First Generation Matching Grant Program.
  • Expands eligibility for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to include eligible out-of-state students. 
  • Establishes the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program for farmworkers and their children.
  • Renames the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) Program as the Effective Access to Student Success Grant (EASE) Program.

Specific Appropriations

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year:

$121,776,631 in recurring funds from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund $1,736,404 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund are appropriated.
$1,737,223 from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund shall be used for 2019 summer term awards for Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars
$28,416,515 from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund shall be used for 2019 summer term awards for Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholars
$91,622,893 from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund shall be used for Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program awards
$1,236,404 from the General Revenue Fund shall be used for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program
$500,000 from the General Revenue Fund shall be used for the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program.

The bill is effective upon becoming law unless otherwise specified.  Chapter Law 2018-004

CS/HB 565 – Excess Hours by Representative Amber Mariano (R- Port Richey), requires a state university to refund the assessed excess credit hour surcharge, for up to 12 credit hours, to any first-time-in-college student who completes a baccalaureate degree program within 4 years after initial enrollment in a state university.

Accordingly, a student enrolled in a 120 credit hour baccalaureate degree program could take up to 144 credit hours, 12 credit hours more than allowed by current law. The student would be assessed the excess credit hour surcharge for the additional 12 credit hours but would receive a refund for the surcharge if he or she graduates in 4 years after initial enrollment.  Effective July 1, 2018.

CS/HB 7055 – Education by Representative Michael Bileca (R – Miami), creates education scholarship programs and streamlines state school choice scholarship program accountability provisions; specifies district school board oversight responsibilities; and promotes education, certification, and licensure opportunities for members of the U.S. military. Over the past week, the bill was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee and amended delete certain provisions and:

  • Modifies the Hope Scholarship Program to provide the parent of a public school student who was the victim of a substantiated incident of violence or abuse an opportunity to transfer the student to another public school that has capacity or to request and receive from the state a scholarship for the student to attend an eligible private school.
  • Reduces the authorized scholarship funding tax credits for the Hope Scholarship Program from $105 to $20.
  • Modifies the accountability provisions for private schools that participate in state school choice scholarship programs and applies such provisions consistently to the participating schools.
  • Adds the following provisions related to K-12 education funding:
    • Creates the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide funds for school-based mental health programs and establishes related requirements.
    • Establishes the hope supplemental services allocation within the FEFP to provide schools implementing a district-managed turnaround plan or a turnaround option specified in law with funds to offer services designed to improve the overall academic and community welfare of the schools’ students and their families. Establishes the funding compression allocation within the FEFP to provide additional funding to school districts and developmental research schools whose total funds per FTE in the prior year were less than the statewide average.
    • Modifies the eligibility requirements and calculation methodology for specified charter school capital outlay provisions and revises the amount of discretionary millage that a school district may expend for specified purposes.
  • Adds the following provisions related to school improvement and accountability:
    • Provides that a school must complete two years of a district-managed turnaround plan before the school is designated as persistently low-performing and required to implement a turnaround option.
    • Expands the turnaround options available to a school district for a persistently low performing school to include a franchise model school that is led by a specified highly effective principal.
    • Revises the school of hope provisions to require a hope operator to submit a notice of intent containing an operations plan specifying the hope operator’s intent to undertake the operations of the persistently low-performing school and incentivizes a hope operator to establish a school of hope at the district-owned facilities of the persistently low-performing school.
  • Adds a provision to rename the Collegiate High School Program as the Structured High School Acceleration Program and creates a bonus funding mechanism to incentivize school district interest in expanding programs.
  • Adds a provision to clarify that school districts may construct or renovate facilities without a survey recommendation when using funds from specified local revenue sources.
  • Requires all schools and district school board buildings to display the state motto, “In God We Trust,” in a conspicuous place.
  • Adds the following provisions related to instruction in public schools:
    • Establishes a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy, and specifies financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering grade 9 in the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter.
    • Requires each school district to provide students instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator.
  • Adds a provision to authorize an individual member of the legislature to visit any district school, including any charter school, in his or her legislative district, on any day and at any time.
  • Adds a provision to modify the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program to specify a school district employee who, in the prior school year, was rated highly effective and met the eligibility requirements of the scholarship as a classroom teacher, is eligible to receive a scholarship award during the current school year if he or she maintains employment with the school district.
  • Requires, for an employee organization that has been certified as the bargaining agent for a unit of instructional personnel, the following:
    • Information that must be in an application for renewal of registration, including the number of employees eligible for representation by the employee organization and the number who are represented by the employee organization, specifying the number of members who pay dues and the number of members who do not pay dues.
    • An employee organization whose dues paying membership is less than 50 percent of the employees eligible for representation in the unit to petition the Public Employees Relations Commission for recertification.
  • Adds a provision to authorize an early learning coalition to refuse to contract with a private provider of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program if the provider has been cited for a class I violation.
  • Adds a provision to revise the definition of a rare disease for the purposes of the Gardiner Scholarship Program and conforms the definition of a rare disease to the definition provided by the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, Pub. L. No. 97-414.
  • Modifies school safety requirements in the following ways:
    • Requires a school district to formulate and prescribe policies and procedures for emergency drills for hostage and active shooter situations and establish model emergency management and emergency preparedness procedures for active shooter situations. The active shooter situation training must be conducted by the law enforcement agency or agencies that are designated as the first responders to the school’s campus.
    • Requires each school district to conduct security risk assessments at each public school and conduct a self-assessment of the school districts’ current safety and security practices using a format prescribed by the Department of Education (DOE) and develop a plan that includes having a secure, single point of entry onto school grounds.
    • Requires a district school board or a private school principal or governing board to allow the law enforcement agency or agencies that are designated as first responders to the school’s or districts’ campus tour such campuses once every 3 years and to document any recommended changes to school safety and emergency issues.
    • Requires a district school board to establish a school resource officer program and commission one or more school safety officers at each district school facility.
  • Modifies appropriations, for the 2018-2019 fiscal year:
    • The sum of $2,596,560 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for the following purposes:
      • $2 million to implement the Hope Scholarship Program.
      • $596,560 to implement additional state scholarship oversight requirements. o The sum of $392,134 in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for the following purposes:
      • $142,134 to implement additional state scholarship oversight requirements.
      • $250,000 to award a competitive grant to study student performance in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program as required in law.

Effective upon becoming law unless otherwise specified. Chapter Law 2018-006

CS/SB 7026 – Public Safety by Rules and Appropriations Committees, provides law enforcement, the courts, and schools with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence.

In the area of mental health the bill makes significant changes to keep firearms out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness:

  • Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition from the person for 24 hours after the person is released and does not have a risk protection order against them or is the subject of a firearm disability.
  • Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
  • Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms when a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior. The amendment also:
  • Allows a court to issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months.
  • Requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order is issued.
  • Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended.

The bill also provides new provision to ensure full and complete background checks when a firearm is purchased:

  • Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns or until the background check is completed, whichever is later. Provides exceptions for:
  • Concealed weapons permit holders, and
  • For the purchase of firearms other than handguns, an exception for:
    • Individuals who have completed a 16 hour hunter safety course; or
    • Law enforcement officers, correctional officers and service members (military and national guard)

The bill addresses two of the most frequent requests the Legislature heard from the families of victims simply to raise the age for purchasing a firearm and ban devices that turn a legal firearm into an illegal weapon.

  • Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm and licensed firearm dealers, importers, and manufacturers, from selling a firearm, except in the case of a member of the military, or a law enforcement or correctional officer when purchasing a rifle or shotgun. (Persons under 21 years of age are already prohibited from purchasing a handgun under federal law.)
  • Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, sold, keeping for sale, offering for sale, possessing, or giving away within the state.

The bill improves school safety through the following provisions:

  • Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements.
  • Codifies the Office of Safe Schools within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and which will service as a central repository for the best practices, training standards, and compliance regarding school safety and security.
  • Permits a sheriff to establish a school marshal program. The bill allows school districts to decide whether to participate in the school marshal program if it is available in their county. A school marshal must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training. This program is completely voluntary.
  • Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility.
  • Requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
  • Requires each school district to designate school safety specialists and a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.
  • Requires the DOE to contract for the development of a Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool which will assist school districts in conducting security assessments to identify threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Creates the mental health assistance allocation to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care.

The bill also:

  • Prohibits a person from making, posting, or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.
  • Requires DCF to contract for community action treatment teams to provider behavioral health and support services.
  • Requires FDLE to procure a mobile app that would allow students and the community to relay information anonymously concerning unsafe, dangerous threats. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglass recommended that the program be named “FortifyFL”

The legislation appropriates $400 million to implement the bill provisions, including the following:

  • Over 69 million to the DOE to fund the mental health assistance allocation;
  • 1 million for the design and construction of a memorial honoring those who lost their lives on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law. Chapter Law 2018-003

CS/HB 495 – K-12 Public Education by Representative Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), is a comprehensive education bill.  Specifically, the bill:

  • Permits school instructional personnel and administrators, with employer approval, to extend DROP participation beyond the 60-month period to the last day of the last calendar month of the school year;
  • Promotes opportunities for public middle and high school students to learn computer science taught by qualified teachers. Specifically, the bill:
  • Expands access to computer science courses by:
  • Requiring middle schools and high schools to offer computer science courses.
  • Requiring computer science courses that meet the specified definition to be identified in the Course Code Directory and on the Department of Education’s (DOE) website.
  • Creates opportunities for teachers to be certified and trained to teach computer science courses, and requires the DOE to award funding, subject to legislative appropriation, to a school district or consortium of school districts to deliver or facilitate training for educators to earn a certificate in computer science or specified industry certification, or to pay fees for examinations that lead to a credential.
  • Provides, subject to legislative appropriation, the following bonuses to a public school educator evaluated as effective or highly effective, or is newly hired.

Additionally, the bill makes it a second-degree felony for an authority figure to solicit or engage in sexual or lewd conduct with a student enrolled at a school, regardless of the student's age. The bill defines:

  • "Authority figure" as a person 18 years of age or older who is employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with a school, including school resource officers.
  • "School" as a private school, a voluntary prekindergarten education program, early learning program, a public school, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, the and the Florida Virtual School.
  • “Student” as a person who is enrolled at a school.

Effective July 1, 2018 or as otherwise provided.

CS/HB 333 Minimum Officer Qualifications by Representative Danny Burgess, (R – Zephyrhills), adds an exemption to the basic recruit training program for an applicant who has served in the special operations forces of the U.S. military for at least 5 years, provided there is no more than a 4-year break from the applicant’s special operations forces experience at the time of application. The bill defines special operations forces to include service-members of the Army 75th Ranger Regiment; the Navy SEALs and Special Warfare-Craft Crewman; the Air Force Combat Control, Pararescue, and Tactical Air Control Party specialists; the Marine Corps Critical Skills Operators; and any other component of the Special Operations Command approved by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. The Commission may require an exempt applicant to complete additional training as it deems appropriate, based on the applicant’s prior training and experience. The bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2018. Governor must act on the bill by March 29, 2018.

CS/CS/SB 376 – Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders by Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), revises the standards for determining compensability of employment-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under workers’ compensation for first responders, which includes volunteers or employees engaged as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. The bill allows first responders that meet certain conditions to access indemnity and medical benefits for PTSD without an accompanying physical injury. Current law provides only medical benefits for a mental or nervous injury without an accompanying physical injury and requires the first responder to incur a compensable physical injury to receive indemnity benefits for a mental or nervous injury. Generally, the bill will increase the likelihood of compensability for workers’ compensation indemnity benefits for PTSD.  Effective October 1, 2018.  Governor must act on this bill by March 27, 2018

HB 7001 – Supermajority Vote for State Taxes and Fees by Representative Thomas Leek (R – Daytona Beach), proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit a state tax or fee from being imposed or raised except through legislation approved by two-thirds of each house of the legislature.  The bill requires a state sales tax or fee imposed or raised to be contained in a separate bill that contains no other subject.  Will be placed on the ballot for voter approval.

CS/HB 7087 – Taxation by Representative Paul Renner (R – Palm Coast), provides for a wide range of tax reductions designed to directly impact both families and businesses. The bill contains several provisions related to sales tax:

  • Tax rate reduction for tax on commercial rentals (business rent tax).
  • Includes new, extended, or expanded sales tax exemptions for:
    • Sales tax credits for contributions to the Gardiner Scholarship and Florida Tax Credit Scholarship programs;
    • Certain generators for nursing homes and assisted living facilities;
    • Certain purchases of agriculture related fencing materials and building materials for repair of storm damage from Hurricane Irma;
  • Sales tax holidays:
    • A ten-day “back-to-school” holiday for clothing, footwear, school supplies, and computers;
    • Three seven-day “disaster preparedness” holiday for sales of specified items related to disaster preparedness.

Additionally, the bill provides property tax relief for certain homestead property damaged by hurricanes or tropical storms; for certain citrus processing equipment idled due to citrus greening or Hurricane Irma; for certain surviving spouses of disabled ex-service-members; updates the list of military operations for which deployed service-members may receive property tax relief; clarifies the tax exempt status of certain entities created under the Florida Interlocal Cooperation Act of 1969; clarifies representation of condominium owners in certain property tax challenges, and clarifies the property tax treatment of multiple parcel buildings.

Further changes include: an 18% reduction in certain traffic fines if the driver attends a driver improvement course; exemptions from documentary stamp taxes for certain transfers of property between spouses and for certain notes and mortgages given for loans made in connection with local housing finance authorities, etc.  Effective July 1, 2018

HB 1013 – Daylight Saving Time by Representative Jeanette Nunez (R – Miami), declares the Legislature’s intent to observe daylight saving time year-round throughout the entire state if federal law is amended to permit states to take such action.  If Congress approves the bill and it is signed by the president the bill would be effective July 1, 2018.

HB 651 – State Employment by Representative Clay Yarborough (R – Jacksonville), eliminates the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign and provides that no organization, entity, or person may intentionally solicit a state employee through any means for fundraising or business purposes within work areas during work hours. However, it does not prohibit state-approved communications by entities that the state has contracted to provide employee benefits or services, non-coercive voluntary communications between state employees in workplace areas, and activities at authorized public events occurring in non-work areas of state owned or leased facilities.  Effective July 1, 2018.  Governor must act on this bill by March 29, 2018.

Bills that Failed

HB 633 – Florida Smart City Challenge Grant Program by Representative Jason Fischer (R – Jacksonville) and SB 852 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), developed the Florida Smart City Challenge Grant Program and establish grant award requirements for municipalities or regions. The bills died on the calendar.

SB 88 – Education by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R – Port Orange), provided students the opportunity to learn personal financial literacy through a one-half credit financial literacy course.  The bill died on the calendar.

HB 33 – Texting While Driving by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa), and SB 90 by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), prohibited a person from texting, emailing, and instant messaging while driving for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication.  The bill changed current enforcement of the ban from a secondary offense to a primary offense.  The bills died in committee.

HB 9 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Representative Larry Metz (R – Groveland, FSU Alum) and SB 308 by Senator Aaron Bean (R – Jacksonville), required state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.  The bills died in committee.

HB 79 – Public Meetings by Representative Rick Roth (R – Palm Beach Gardens) and SB 192 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), specified that members of the same board or commission could participate in fact-finding exercises or excursions to research public business, and could participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature under certain circumstances.  The bill died on the calendar. 

SB 252 – State Employee Higher Education Fee Waivers by Senator Greg Steube (R – Sarasota) and HB 1371 by Representative Loranne Ausley (D – Tallahassee), provided that credit hours eligible for tuition and fee waivers be determined on a calendar year basis, rather than per academic term, etc.  The bills died in committee.

HB 779 – Education Facilities as Emergency Shelters by Representative Janet Cruz (D – Tampa) and SB 1556 by Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (D – Miami), required education facilities that have received public education capital outlay funding be made available to county and state emergency management offices during state of emergency.  The bills died in committee.

HB 1045 – Immunization Registry – by Representative Cary Pigman (R – Sebring) and SB 1680 by Senator Bill Montford (D – Tallahassee, FSU Alum), required physicians, physician assistants, and nurses who administer vaccines to children aged 18 or younger, or to students, aged 19 to 23, at a Florida college or university health care facility, to report the vaccination to the immunization registry.  The bills died on the calendar.