LegisLetter: April 22, 2019
Volume 26, Number 8
We are within shouting distance of completion of the 2019 Legislative Session. So much is left to be done. To date, the legislature has only passed 29 bills, yet over 3000 have been filed.
They are starting to see the pace pick up significantly. In some cases, new bills are appearing in legislative committees that have not ever been discussed. Other bills have undergone significant transformations with strike everything amendments. We have put on our “eagle eye glasses” and continue to scan reports for the bills that impact Florida State University.
We are eagerly waiting for budget negotiations to begin. We expect the House Speaker and Senate President will appoint budget conference committee members this week, and also provide each budget area with their “allocation.” An allocation is the amount of money that will be dedicated to a certain area of government. The House and Senate budgets are so far apart on higher education funding; the amount of money in the joint allocation for the higher education committee will give us a general idea as to whether there will be cuts to universities or the potential for increases. We won’t know the exact budget outcome until the final week of Session, but we expect significant clues to emerge this week.
Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of observing from the Senate Gallery the initial debate on SB 1080 by Senator Lauren Book. She has sponsored on behalf of Florida State University a proposed law to broaden the definition of hazing and add a narrowly tailored immunity from prosecution if a person calls the authorities to assist a victim of hazing. This bill was the idea of Tom and Sandra Coffey who lost their son Andrew in a hazing incident. Out of their pain and loss came the idea to help incentivize a call for help for someone who experienced hazing and needs medical assistance. They believe that Andrew would have lived had someone called an ambulance in a timely manner. Several other states have a similar law, and we know that it has prevented the loss of life for a young person involved in a hazing incident.
We believe the House of Representatives will take up a similar measure by Representative Chip LaMarca next week. It is our hope that the bill will be sent to the Governor and signed into law. We will keep you posted.
As the legendary band Europe so artfully sang in 1986, “It’s the Final Countdown.”
We hope good things are ahead in the budget and policy for Florida State University.
FSU Day at the Capitol
Spotlight on Bills
Update on Bills
SB 190 – Education by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), modifies the requirements associated with the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program (Bright Futures program), and removes restrictions in current law regarding funding for the operation of schools and performance funding for industry certifications. The bill was amended last week with a strike-all amendment that incorporated changes to the Public Education Capital Outlay funding for Florida College System Institutions and state universities. Specifically, as it relates to universities, the bill requires the Board of Governors (BOG) to prioritize projects on a points-based ranking method. The BOG will consider criteria that evaluates the degree to which:
- The project was funded previously;
- The project represents a building maintenance project or repair of utility infrastructure necessary to preserve a safe environment for students and staff,;
- Addresses the greatest current or projected need for space;
- Reflects ranked priority of the submitting university;
- Represents the most practical and cost effect replacement or renovation of an existing building;
- Requires the 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; and
- Requires the Board of Governors to develop and annually deliver a training program for members of each state university board of trustees that addresses the role of such boards in governing institutional resources and protecting the public interest.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee last week. A comparable bill in the House, HB 5501 by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
SB 7018 -- Public Research Facility/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. The bill passed out of the Senate last week and is waiting to be heard in the House. The identical bill in the House, HB 7005 by Representative Clay Yarborough (R – Jacksonville), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
HB 257 – Excess Credit Hours Surcharge by Representative Amber Mariano (R – Port Richey), requires 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 bill specifies that 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 bill increases the excess credit hour surcharge threshold from 110 percent to 120 percent of the number of credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate program in which a student is enrolled, effective for the 2019 summer term and thereafter.
The bill passed out of the House last week. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 680 by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee.
Spotlight on Bills
CS/HB 7055 – Education by Representative Ralph Massullo (R – Beverly Hills), addresses the State’s 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
- 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 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 Education Committee. A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 770 by Senator Travis Hutson (R – Palm Coast), reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee.
CS/CS/HB 595 – Alcohol or Drug Overdose Prosecution by Representative David Silvers (D – West Palm Beach), incentivizes a person to seek medical assistance for an alcohol or drug overdose by providing immunity under specified circumstances for the offenses of:
- Providing alcohol to a person under 21 years old; and
- Possessing or consuming alcohol when under 21 years old. The bill amends the 911 Good Samaritan Act by:
- Extending immunity for:
- Use or possession of drug paraphernalia;
- Violation of pretrial release, probation, or parole; and
- A person seeking aid for an alcohol overdose.
- Limiting immunity for possession of a controlled substance to exclude possession of more than 10 grams of certain substances;
- Adding protection from arrest for a person seeking aid for an alcohol or drug overdose victim; and
- Extending immunity to a person mistakenly, but in good faith, believing that he, she, or another is experiencing an alcohol or drug overdose.
The bill passed out of the House last week. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 530 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), is waiting to be by the full Senate.
CS/SB 354 – Immunization Registry by Senator Bill Montford (D – Tallahassee, FSU Alum), directs health care practitioners to report vaccination administration data to the Department of Health (DOH) immunization registry when vaccinating children up to 18 years of age or college or university students at a college or university health center who are 19 to 23 years of age. The bill permits a parent or guardian of a child up to 18 years of age or a college or university student 19 to 23 years of age to opt out of being included in the immunization registry. Such a decision not to participate in the immunization registry must be provided to DOH and the healthcare practitioner and all records regarding the child or student must be removed from the registry.
The bill also directs school boards and private school governing bodies to establish and enforce a policy requiring that before a child may attend a public or private school, the child must have on file a Florida Certification of Immunization (FCI) with the DOH immunization registry. Any child who does not participate in the immunization registry must present or have on file with the school an FCI form, which will be a part of the student’s permanent record and be transferred with the student if the student transfers.
The bill also provides that school boards and private school governing bodies must establish and enforce a policy requiring appropriate scoliosis screening at the proper age.
The bill is waiting to be heard by the full Senate, A similar bill in the House, HB 213 by Representative Ralph Massulo (R – Beverly Hills), passed out of the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate.
SB 1444 – Education by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), provides safeguards to help protect students by requiring the creation of a state disqualification list to be maintained by the Department of Education (department or DOE), which must include the following information:
- The name of any individual who has been placed on the list by the Education Practices Commission (EPC) pursuant to law, or whose educator certificate has been permanently revoked by the EPC.
- The name of any private school owners or operators who have been permanently disqualified from participation in a state scholarship program by the DOE.
In addition, the bill:
- Requires the DOE to provide authorized staff of school districts, charter schools, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and private schools that accept state scholarship program students with electronic access to the DOE’s disqualification list.
- Prohibits any individual on the disqualification list from earning an educator certificate or being employed in any position that requires direct contact with students in any public school, charter school, or private school that accepts state scholarship money.
- Provides the DOE and EPC with authority to place individuals on the disqualification list for certain purposes.
- Requires the DOE to immediately investigate, under certain circumstances, any legally sufficient complaint that involves the misconduct by an employee or contracted personnel in a public school, charter school or private school that receives state scholarship funds.
The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee last week. The House companion, HB 1127 by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
CS/CS/CS/CS/SB 76 – Driving, While Using Wireless Communication Device by Senator Wilton Simpson (R – Spring Hill), renames the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” to the “Florida Hands-Free Driving Law,” and authorizes enforcement of a ban on the use of a handheld wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle as a primary offense, punishable as a moving violation instead of the current nonmoving violation.
The bill allows for a statewide public education and awareness campaign, and provides for enforcement only by a warning from October 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, after which a person may be issued a citation. A person who violates this law commits a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation, and will have three points assessed against his or her license. However, a person cited for his or her first offense may avoid punishment and the assessment of points by completing a wireless communications device driving safety program.
The bill allows the clerk of the court to dismiss a case and assess court costs for a nonmoving traffic infraction for a person who is cited for a first time violation of the ban, if the person shows the clerk proof of purchase of equipment that enables their personal wireless communications device to be used in a hands-free manner.
The bill reported favorably by the Rules Committee and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate. A comparable bill in the House, HB 107 by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa), is waiting to be heard by the full House.