LegisLetter: March 04, 2019

Volume 26, Number 1

The 2019 Florida Legislative Session will convene tomorrow. Hundreds of legislators will gather along with thousands of spectators and participants in the 60-day mad dash. With the legislature in action comes the annual Legisletter – this update is designed to give you a quick snapshot of the issues debated by legislators that impact Florida State University.

Though the Session is just beginning, our work at the Capitol has been in full swing. President Thrasher has met personally with state leaders about our funding and policy priorities. In a competitive environment for state dollars, budgeters are looking for a return on investment.

Our ROI is impressive.

President Thrasher has provided a thorough accounting of our impressive gains including:

  • The highest four-year graduation rate among Florida universities
  • The meteoric rise in the U.S. News and World Report overall rankings for Public Universities, and
  • The distinction of being the most efficient university in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report

Florida State University has embarked on a tireless pursuit to delivering an excellent education to our students, and we are getting results.

On behalf of Governmental Relations, we are grateful to the hard work of our students, faculty, and staff that help build this portfolio of success that we rely upon when we ask for additional funding. 

Our budget request is consistent with the past years – we are looking for increases to help fund strategic initiatives at FSU including faculty recruitment and retention, smaller class sizes, new facilities, and support services for our students. A copy of our request highlights is included in this edition of the Legisletter.

It is impossible to know how FSU will fare this Session. We are experiencing another year of intense scrutiny on our budget and buildings, especially in the wake of controversy associated with another state university. Recently, a House Committee asked Vice President of Finance Kyle Clark to provide details on the university budget process. He represented Florida State well. Under the spotlight, FSU is holding up well, and in fact, there is discussion on incorporating some of our practices as new standards for the entire system.

There are many miles yet to travel and many debates to be had, but we will provide you with relevant updates throughout these next two months.

In closing, please review the guidelines in this edition of the Legisletter for making an appearance at the Capitol to speak with Legislators. We do not want to hinder your ability to interact with policy makers, but we do need to make sure you are following university policies and state law. When in doubt, ask first.

If you have specific questions or concerns about legislation, please contact Governmental Relations. We are always available to help provide information. You can contact me at kmears@fsu.edu or Toni Moore tmoore@fsu.edu.

Finally, save the date for FSU DAY AT THE CAPITOL on April 9, featuring our National Championship Women’s Soccer and Softball teams in the Capitol Courtyard.

Thank you for your interest in FSU Governmental Relations. We look forward to another successful year for the Garnet and Gold.

Kathy Mears

2019 Legislative Priorities

Each year, Florida State University administrators identify legislative priorities that are vital to the operation of the university. Below are the top legislative priorities for 2019.

Priority Request
Maintenance $20,000,000
Preeminence $25,000,000
World Class Faculty and Scholars $25,000,000
Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence $20,000,000
Interdisciplinary Research & Commercialization Building $22,225.899
Legacy Hall Business Building $17,000,000
STEM Teaching Laboratory $6,966,187
FAMU-FSU Joint Use Engineering Building $15,200,000
Tallahassee Campus Projects
FAMU-FSU Engineering Integrated Advancement $6,394,000
Panama City Campus Project
Hurricane Michael Repair and Restoration $3,800,000
Rural Northwest Florida Mosquito Surveillance $578,544

Employee Guidelines for Legislative Session

The 2019 Session of the Florida Legislature begins tomorrow. Please note the following Florida State University policies:

  • President John Thrasher, Associate Vice President for University Relations Kathleen Daly, Chief Legislative Affairs Officer Kathy Mears and, Director of External Relations at the College of Medicine Laura Brock are the lobbyists for Florida State University.
  • No one on campus other than President Thrasher, Ms. Daly, Ms. Mears and Ms. Brock are authorized to lobby for Florida State University or the State University System.

However, the Legislature periodically requests faculty and/or staff to attend committee meetings or to formally respond to questions about certain issues.  FSU employees asked to appear before committee must notify Kathy Mears at 644-4453 and submit a legislative contact form prior to making an appearance.

The form can be found on the Governmental Relations website at http://govrel.fsu.edu/. If you have trouble accessing this form please contact Governmental Relations at 644-4453 for a hard copy.

Nothing here is intended to discourage FSU employees from exercising their individual rights as citizens or as members of groups or organizations not affiliated with the University.  Such rights include the freedom to express their views on legislation, provided that the views are not presented as those of FSU, the SUS, or a subunit of these.

Advocate for Florida State during the 2019 Legislative Session

Making Florida State’s legislative priorities real during the 2019 session will require active input from university alumni and friends.

Our vision is solid, our needs are real and we absolutely must have the energetic support of the Florida State faithful during the legislative session which begins tomorrow.  Proposed legislation is already moving and well underway, so we definitely need our alumni and supporters to engage with our priorities right now – and stay engaged throughout the year – if we’re going to achieve our legislative goals.

FSU has made supporters’ activism simple through its Advocate for Florida State website – advocateforfloridastate.fsu.edu  – where comprehensive information on the university’s legislative priorities is available to alumni and friends.

Plus when you register on the site, your email messages are automatically directed to the Florida legislative members who represent you.  We encourage you to go to the Advocate site and sign-up today.

FSU Day at the Capitol

The annual salute to Florida State’s significant contributions to our state will take place on Tuesday, April 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

FSU Day at the Capitol has become one of the most popular traditions during the legislative session, and provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase our University’s programs and accomplishments to our friends in the legislature.

Through this event, Florida State is able to emphasize the University's long and proud heritage, and bring attention to the extraordinary achievements of our students, faculty and staff.

Preceding the day’s festivities, a “Seminole Evening” reception will be held on April 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. on the 22nd floor of the Capitol. This special event is sponsored by the FSU Student Government Association and all University supporters are welcome to attend.

As always, FSU Day at the Capitol will include informative displays, which will be positioned throughout the plaza level, second and third floor rotundas. Also featured will be University “celebrities” – administrators, legislative alumni and more – along with performances by the FSU pep band, cheerleaders and Flying High Circus. 

A special celebration of all things FSU will take place in the Capitol courtyard beginning at 11:30 a.m. with refreshments available for all to enjoy.

If your department has not yet signed up to display your achievements, please contact Toni Moore in the FSU Governmental Relations office at tmoore@fsu.edu or 644-3847.

Mark your calendars now for this Garnet and Gold event on April 9!

Spotlight on Bills

HB 839 – Organization and Operation of State Universities by Ray Rodriguez (R – Ft. Myers), requires the Board of Governor’s to report on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution through an objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey that enables comparison among institutions over time. The bill requires each institution to conduct an annual survey of students, faculty, and administrators that assesses the extent to which competing ideas, perspectives, and claims of truth are presented and members of the university community feel safe and supported in exploring and articulating their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.

The bill revises provisions relating to State University System performance-based incentives. Further, the bill revises the statewide articulation agreement to provide for a reverse transfer agreement for Florida College System associate in arts degree-seeking students who transfer to a state university before earning an associate in arts degree. Students must be awarded an associate in arts degree by the Florida College System institution upon completion of degree requirements at the state university if the student earned a majority of the credit hours from the Florida College System institution. Additionally, the bill requires state universities to identify students who have completed requirements for the associate in arts degree and transfer credits earned at the state university back to the Florida College System institution so that the associate in arts degree may be awarded by the Florida College System institution, etc.  The bill is now in the Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee.  A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 1296 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens) was filed last week.

HB 727 – Hazing by Representative Chip LaMarca (R – Lighthouse Point), clarifies the term hazing to mean any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for initiation or admission into any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. The bill is waiting to be heard in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.  A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1080 by Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), has been referred to the Criminal Justice, Education, and Appropriations Committees.

CS/SB 168 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Senator Joe Gruters (R – Sarasota, FSU Alum), seeks to ensure that state and local entities and law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal government officials to enforce, and not obstruct, immigration laws. The bill prohibits sanctuary jurisdictions and requires state and local entities to comply with federal immigration detainers when they are supported by proper documentation.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Prohibits a state entity, law enforcement agency, or local governmental entity, from having a sanctuary policy.
  • Requires a covered government body to use its best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.
  • Prohibits a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency from restricting a law enforcement agency’s ability to communicate or exchange information with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement matters.
  • Permits the Attorney General to institute an action for a violation of this law or to prevent a violation of the law.
  • Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days after the effective date of the act.

The bill reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and will next be heard in the Infrastructure and Security Committee.  The House companion, HB 527 by Representative Cord Byrd (R – Jacksonville Beach), is waiting to be heard by the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

CS HB 217 – Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel by Representative Adam Hattersley (D – Riverview), requires the Board of Governors (BOG) to adopt regulations and the State Board Education (SBE) to adopt rules to create a uniform system to enable service-members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces to earn academic college credit at public postsecondary educational institutions for college-level training, education, and experience acquired in the military. The bill delineates the minimum required procedures for evaluating military credentials and experience and awarding academic college credit based on such credentials and experience.

The bill requires state universities, Florida College System (FCS) institutions, career centers operated by a school district, and charter technical centers to waive the transcript fee for active duty members and honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces, and their spouses and dependents.

The bill reported favorably by the Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee.  The identical bill in the Senate, SB 442 by Senator Tom Lee (R – Brandon), has been referred to the Education, Military and Veteran Affairs and Space, and Appropriations committees.

SB 238 – Sexual Misconduct by Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), requires postsecondary institutions to include a notation on a student’s academic transcript if the student has been dismissed from the institution for a sexual misconduct offense.  The bill also requires that institutions adopt a procedure for removing a notation from a student’s academic transcript under certain circumstances.  The bill has been referred to the Education, Criminal Justice and Rules committees.  There is no House companion at this time.