LegisLetter: April 01, 2019

Volume 26, Number 5


The pace of the legislature is like the snowball that starts rolling down steadily from the mountaintop, picking up speed. Now we are more than halfway through the session, and the snowball has transformed into swiftly caroming fiery ball of action.

As expected, the House and Senate appropriations committees passed their respective versions of the state budget, and they are now poised for votes before each chamber. There remain significant differences, which means special budget conference committees will be appointed to negotiate a joint product.

The House of Representatives has added a proposed higher education conforming bill into the budget process. The bill proposes many changes including requiring a new university budget governance structure, adding requirements to our capital project process, shifting our budgeting process to become more like a state agency, and, and removing the universities ability to retain carry forward balances.  We are working with other State Universities and the Board of Governors to educate legislators on the negative impact of some of these provisions. These changes, along with the House of Representative’s proposed operating budget cuts are keeping universities very busy at the Capitol.

We are fortunate that the Florida Senate continues to demonstrate a solid commitment to increasing university funding. At this time, they are not proposing the wide-sweeping changes reflected in the House conforming bill. However, the legislative process is about compromise and consensus. We cannot expect one chamber to perfectly prevail over another. Our hope is that the Senate will continue to stand firm in support of our university system, both in terms of funding and policies.

On a more cheerful note, one week from today, the Florida State University Student Government Association and FSU Government Relations will cohost a special evening reception on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol, starting at 5:30 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public, and we hope you will join us in honoring some of our legislative leaders who support the mission of FSU.

On Tuesday, April 9, we will celebrate FSU Day at the Capitol. 4Rivers is bringing grills to cook our hot dogs, it will be an upgrade to one of our great annual traditions. We will honor our Women’s Soccer and Women’s Softball National Champions in the Capitol Courtyard. We hope to see you there.

In the meantime, please know that the excellent work of Florida State University is our best defense to any harmful proposals. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Go Noles!

Kathy Mears

Spotlight on Bills

Update on Bills

CS/HB 257 – Excess Credit Hour by Representative Amber Mariano (R – Port Richey), was amended to require the excess credit hour surcharge threshold to be adjusted for any student who changes a degree program if the number of credit hours required to complete the new degree program exceeds that of the original degree program. The excess credit hour surcharge threshold may not be adjusted if the number of credit hours required to complete the new degree program is less than that of the original degree program.

The amended bill reported favorably by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and is now in the Education Committee.  The Senate companion, SB 680 by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

CS/CS/SB 1080 – Hazing by Senator Lauren Book (D –Plantation), was amended to provide immunity from prosecution if an individual establishes that, before medical assistance, law enforcement, or campus security arrived on the scene of a hazing event, the person rendered aid to the hazing victim. “Aid” includes but is not limited to:

  • Rendering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the victim,
  • Clearing an airway for the victim to breathe,
  • Using a defibrillator to assist the victim, or
  • Rendering any other assistance to the victim which the person intended in good faith to stabilize or improve the victim’s condition while waiting for medical assistance, law enforcement, or campus security to arrive.

The amended bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week. A similar bill in the House, HB 727 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R – Lighthouse Point), was similarly amended and reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee.

CS/CS/HB 839 – Higher Education by Representative Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers), was amended last week by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee who adopted three amendments and reported the bill favorably as a committee substitute. The committee substitute differs from the bill in the following ways:

  • Clarifies that, for the purpose of evaluating Performance Funding metrics, 6-year graduation rates of Pell-eligible and non-Pell-eligible students will be compared within each institution, rather than between them.
  • Requires that the State Board of Education Florida College System institutions submit recommendations to the Legislature regarding the development and implementation of a fully performance-based funding model.
  •  Clarifies that some sections of the bill have their own expressed effective date, and that other sections without such are effective July 1, 2019.

The amended bill will now go to the full House.  A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1296 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), is scheduled to be heard in the Education Committee tomorrow morning.

CS/HB 7051 – Higher Education by Representative Cord Byrd (R – Jacksonville Beach), was amended and reported favorably by the Education Committee last week. The amendment requires that:

  • A university’s annual capital outlay budget be consistent with its most recent 5-year capital improvement plans, which will amend the capital improvements element of the campus master plan; and
  • 5-year capital improvement plans include anticipated funding sources for all projects in all years. The Board of Governors (BOG) must be provided notice and an opportunity to review campus master plans.

The BOG also has the authority to approve those elements of the master plan required by BOG regulation and the capital improvements element of the master plan.

A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1744 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake), has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Appropriations Committee.

Spotlight on Bills

CS/SB 442—Postsecondary education for Certain Military Personnel by Senator Tom Lee (R – Brandon), adds military experience to the list of qualifying bases for which service-members and veterans may earn postsecondary course credit from a public postsecondary educational institution. The bill requires the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida (BOG) and the State Board of Education (SBE), in consultation with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) to adopt regulations and rules, respectively, which create a uniform system for the awarding of postsecondary credit based on military experience, training, and education.

The bill directs the Articulation Coordinating Committee (Committee) of the Florida Department of Education to convene a 13-member workgroup consisting of the chair of the committee (to serve as chair), administrators and faculty from state universities and Florida College System institutions, faculty from career centers, and veterans. The workgroup will develop a uniform process for determining when military experience and credentials are appropriate for postsecondary credit. The Committee will then approve a list of postsecondary course equivalencies, including minimum credit, based on military experience and credentials. The list is subject to approval by the BOG and the SBE.

The bill additionally provides active duty service-members and honorably discharged veterans, and their spouses and dependents, a fee waiver on a transcript from a state university, Florida College System institution, career center operated by a school district, or a charter technical career center.  Each of these institutions must annually report to the BOG and the SBE the number and value of transcript fee waivers granted.

The bill reported favorably by the Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Subcommittee last week.  The identical bill in the House, HB 217 by Representative Adam Hattersley (D – Riverview), is waiting to be heard by the full House.

HB 7055 – Education by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), addresses the growing workforce demand and provides students flexibility and options to pursue advanced career pathways, the bill:

  • revises the school grades formula to recognize career certificate clock hour dual enrollment and establishes formal career dual enrollment agreements between high schools and career centers;
  • allows students with an industry certification to earn two mathematics credits for  Algebra I;
  • allows a computer science credit to substitute for a mathematics or science credit and requires a biennial review of career education courses for alignment with high school graduation requirements;
  • requires the Department of Education to provide assistance in increasing public awareness of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities;
  • requires the elimination of industry certifications that are not aligned to industry needs;
  • establishes a “College and Career Decision Day” to recognize high school seniors for their postsecondary education and career plans;
  • doubles the cap on career and professional education (CAPE) Digital Tool certificates the State Board of Education may identify for weighted FTE funding; and
  • reestablishes a middle grades career planning course requirement.

The bill reported favorably by the Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Subcommittee last week and is now in the Education Committee.  A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 1366 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.