LegisLetter: March 18, 2019

Volume 26, Number 3

Week three of the 2019 Legislative Session kicks off today. In this edition of the Legisletter, you will find a brief summary of activities last week and a look ahead to what we expect this week.

Last Monday, Tom and Sandy Coffey, parents of Andrew Coffey (our student who died as a result of a hazing incident) testified in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee in support of SB 1080. One of the most Important provisions of this proposal is to ensure that a person who calls 911 to assist a victim of hazing will receive immunity from any criminal prosecution. Mr. Coffey stated that he believes Andrew would be alive today if this law was in statute. Through tears, he asked the committee for support; he received it with a unanimous vote for the bill. The House version of the bill passed unanimously out of the House Senate Criminal Justice Committee the following day. Both bills have two more committee stops each. We hope to see this important bill become law.

Members of the Senate Education Committee introduced a bill to set up a process for universities that want to rename buildings. The process mirrors the transparent and public process set forth by the President’s Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions. The bill also removes the name B. K. Roberts at Florida State University College of Law. If passed, FSU will have the ability to rename the College of Law. At this time, there is no companion bill filed in the House of Representatives. We will keep you posted on the progress of this legislation.

On Wednesday, First Lady of Florida Casey DeSantis recognized our National Championship Women’s Soccer and Softball Teams in conjunction with Women’s History Month. What a wonderful celebration with our athletic stars, legislators, Seminole supporters and FSU representatives. President and Mrs. Thrasher attended, and Governor DeSantis presented medallions to each of our student athletes. It was an honor to be recognized by the Governor and First Lady at the Governor’s Mansion.

FSU's NCAA champion softball team visits the Florida Governor's Mansion (Photo: Ryals Lee)

FSU's NCAA champion soccer team visits the Florida Governor's Mansion (Photo: Ryals Lee)

Also on Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Career Readiness took up HB 839 by Representatives Ray Rodrigues. This is a comprehensive higher education bill which the Florida House of Representatives leadership has identified as a priority.  It is a bill that Florida State University will closely monitor this Session. A summary can be found in the “Spotlight on Bills” section of this Legisletter.

We anticipate the Florida Senate and Florida House to begin publishing their initial budget recommendations starting next week. It is widely expected that the House of Representatives will produce a budget with across the board reductions, as has been the practice of the House over the past few years. We will update you on our advocacy efforts at the capitol weekly, however, you may want to sign up for “Advocate for Florida State.” Through Advocate, we activate Seminoles across the state with calls to action on specific legislative spending and policies. We initiate mass reach outs sparingly so that when we do, our collective voice is clearly heard. If you have not signed up, please consider doing so today at advocateforfloridastate.fsu.edu.

Thank you for your interest in State Government Affairs. Please contact our office if we can be of any assistance to you.

Kathy Mears

Spotlight on Bills

Update on Bills

CS/SB 1080 – Hazing by Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), was amended last week by the Criminal Justice Committee to:

  • Include a former member of a student organization in those that are protected from hazing and eliminates any reference to a person who is affiliated with an organization.
  • Change the effective date from July 1, 2019 to October 1, 2019.

The identical bill in the House, HB 727 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R – Lighthouse Point), reported favorably by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

CS/HB 839 – Organization and Operation of State Universities by Representative Ray Rodriguez (R – Ft. Myers).  Last Wednesday, the Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee adopted a strike-all amendment and reported the bill favorably as a committee substitute. The committee substitute differs from the bill in the following ways:

  • Requires the data reported annually in the BOG Accountability Plan, in lieu of the data reported annually to the IPEDS, to be used to determine whether an institution is designated as preeminent or emerging preeminent.
  • Specifies that the following performance-based metrics will begin in fiscal year 2020-2021:
  • 2-year graduation rate for 2+2 transfer students;
  • 6-year graduation rates for Pell Grant-eligible students as compared with non-Pell Grant-eligible students; and
  • Percent of students graduating without excess hours.
  • Requires points to be deducted if a university decreases its enrollment of 2+2 transfer students to ensure that institutions do not shrink the cohort in an effort to achieve better outcomes.
  • Removes the requirement for the minimum performance funding eligibility threshold for the state’s investment to exceed the minimum institutional investment threshold.
  • Removes the provision of scoring state universities related to performance-based incentives.
  • Repeals the access rate performance-based metric, which is based on the percentage of undergraduate students enrolled during the fall term who received a Pell Grant during the fall term, on June 30, 2020.
  • Requires students enrolled in the UF pilot program to be eligible to receive Bright Futures Scholarships for 3 terms if funding is provided to other eligible Bright Futures recipients.
  • Revises the provision related to the legislative budget request for each state universities to include 5- year trend information on the number of faculty and administrators at each university.

There are two similar bills in the Senate, SB 1296 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens) and SB 1744 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Ocala FSU Alum) that have been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and, the Appropriations Committee.

Spotlight on Bills

HEC 02 – Postsecondary Workforce Education by Representative Cord Byrd (R – Jacksonville Beach), promotes apprenticeships, enhances talent development, and increases career opportunities for Floridians by:

  • Creating the “Strengthening Alignment between Industry and Learning (SAIL) to 60” Initiative and establishing a statewide attainment goal to increase the percentage of working-age adults who hold a high-value postsecondary certificate, degree, or training experience to 60 percent by the year 2030.
  • Reconstituting the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) as the Florida Talent Development Council, revising its membership, and requiring the council to develop a strategic plan for talent development in Florida.
  • Creating the Florida Apprenticeship Grant (FLAG) Program, subject to an appropriation in the General Appropriation Act (GAA), to provide competitive grants to career centers, charter technical career centers, Florida College System (FCS) institutions, and other entities authorized to sponsor apprenticeship programs for the purpose of expanding existing programs and establishing new apprenticeship programs. Authorizing the SBE to adopt rules to implement the program.
  • Requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to publish information regarding apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, including technical assistance, outcomes, and funding information.
  • Revising the statutory characteristics of an apprenticeship occupation and modifying the requirements for the two public members appointed to the State Apprenticeship Council by the Governor to be independent of any joint or non-joint organizations.
  • Redefining “journeymen” as “journey workers” and protecting special provisions for veterans, minorities, and women in apprenticeship programs.
  • Requiring the statewide articulation agreement to provide for a reverse transfer agreement for FCS associate in arts degree-seeking students who transfer to a state university prior to earning their associate in arts degree.
  • Requiring that each career center and FCS institution with overlapping service areas to execute and annually submit to DOE a career pathways agreement for each certificate program offered by the career center.
  • Requiring each school district and FCS institution receiving state appropriations for workforce education programs to maintain adequate and accurate records and revising the calculation methodology for determining state funding for workforce education programs.

The bill was workshopped last week and submitted HB 7071. There is no Senate companion at this time.

SB 680 – Excess Hours by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), increases the credit hours a student entering a state university in the summer term of 2019 or thereafter may earn before being required to pay an excess credit hour surcharge from 110 percent to 120 percent. Additionally, the bill prohibits each state university from reducing the excess credit hour threshold of a student who transfers to a degree program that requires less credit hours to complete than the student’s original degree program.

The bill may result in a loss of revenue for state universities from students who take excess credit hours beyond 110 percent of the requirements for a baccalaureate degree program. Students who exceed 110 percent of the credit hours required for a degree may experience a cost savings.

The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week and is now waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.  The House companion, CS/HB 257 by Representative Amber Mariano (R – Port Richey), is waiting to be heard by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

SB 7076 – State University Building Designations by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), establishes a process for naming and renaming state university facilities. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires the Board of Governors (BOG) to adopt regulations to specify authority, procedures, and elements related to the naming or renaming of any state university facilities.
  • Requires the BOG regulations to specify elements addressing the respective responsibilities of the BOG and state university boards of trustees and presidents, and procedural requirements regarding transparency, public engagement, nongift-related and gift-related considerations, approval, and other transparency and accountability requirements deemed appropriate by the BOG.
  • Repeals Florida law that designated the building housing the FSU College of Law as the B.K. Roberts Hall.
  • Provides legislative intent regarding the naming of the FSU College of Law facility.

The bill was filed by the Education Committee last week.  There is no House companion at this time.

SB 7018 – Public Research Facilities/Animal Research by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), saves from repeal a public records exemption for personal identifying information of a person employed by, under contract with, or volunteering for a public research facility, including a state university that conducts animal research or is engaged in activities related to animal research. Such information is exempt from public records disclosure requirements when the information is contained in the following records:

  • Animal records, including animal care and treatment records.
  • Research protocols and approvals.
  • Purchase and billing records related to animal research or activities. · Animal care and committee records.
  • Facility and laboratory records related to animal research or activities.

The public records exemption is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act and stands repealed on October 2, 2019, unless reviewed and saved from repeal by the Legislature. The bill removes the repeal date to continue the public records exemption for personal identifying information of a person employed, under contract with, or volunteering for a public research facility.  The bill is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.  The identical bill in the House, HB 7005 by Representative Clay Yarborough (R – Jacksonville), reported favorably by the Education Committee last Thursday.

SB 190 – Education by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), modifies the requirements associated with the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, and removes restrictions in current law regarding funding for the operation of schools and performance funding for industry certifications. Specifically:

  • Regarding the Bright Futures program, the bill:
  • Removes the requirement that students enroll in a Florida postsecondary education institution within 2 years of graduation from high school.
  • Eliminates the 45-credit hour annual restriction in the award of a scholarship.
  • Specifies the eligibility of a student, who enrolls in the pilot program at the University of Florida and who meets specified criteria, to receive an award during the fall term.
  • Codifies the existing State Board of Education rule that allows students who earn a high school diploma from a Florida private school to meet the high school credential-specific eligibility criterion.
  • Extends the annual deadline, from August 31 to December 31, by when a student who graduates from high school midyear must apply for the scholarship.
  • Revises the examination score requirements for award eligibility to align the SAT and ACT examination scores with the SAT national percentile rank specified in law; and requires the DOE to publish ongoing updates to the examination scores.
  • Regarding funds for the operation of schools in the Florida Education Finance Program, the bill:
  • Removes the requirement related to prorating the level of appropriation for the federally connected supplement.
  • Modifies the formula for the safe schools allocation to require that of the remaining balance of the safe schools allocation, one-third must be allocated based on the most recent official Florida Crime Index provided by the Department of Law Enforcement and two-thirds must be allocated based on each school district’s proportionate share of the state’s total unweighted full-time equivalent student enrollment.
  • Saves the funding compression allocation from repeal by removing the July 1, 2019, expiration date
  • Regarding performance funding for industry certifications, the bill removes the $15 million annual cap on the performance funding for industry certifications to Florida College System institutions and school district workforce education programs.

The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week and is waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.  There is no House companion at this time.

SB 382 – Teacher Scholarship Program by Senator Bill Montford (D – Tallahassee, FSU Alum), establishes the Teacher Scholarship Program within the Department of Education to encourage student who exhibit academic excellence to pursue a career in education.  The program provides scholarships to eligible students for upper-division undergraduate and graduate study.  The program shall also provide a one-time stipend to students who complete their program of study and their first year of employment as a classroom teacher at public school in Florida.  The bill has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and the Appropriations Committee.  There is no House companion at this time.

CS/HB 547 – Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program by Representative Charles Clemons (R – Jonesville), authorizes a state university to transfer Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program related Dormitory Residence Plan funds to a qualified nonprofit organization. If the plan’s qualified beneficiary is admitted to a state university or Florida College System institution (FCS institution) and finds housing with a qualified nonprofit organization that is approved by the state university, or FCS institution, the state university or FCS institution may transfer to the qualified nonprofit organization the funds associated with dormitory residence.

The bill requires that the amount transferred may not exceed the average fees charged for state university or FCS institution dormitory fees. The bill defines a qualified nonprofit organization as an organization under s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, which provides one or more dormitories, or residency opportunities to students enrolled full-time in a state university or FCS institution, primarily supports students that lack financial resources, and has been approved by the board for inclusion in the plan.  The bill reported favorably by the Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee and is now waiting to be heard in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 464 by Senator Anitere Flores (R – Miami), has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and, the Appropriations Committee.