LegisLetter: May 07, 2019

Volume 26, Number 10

The 2019 Session has come to a halt. As predicted, it was an unpredictable Session. The Legislature accomplished most of its work in the hurried final hours and days. A major higher education bill that has significant implications to State Colleges and State Universities was passed in the final hours. In this edition of the Legisletter you will find summaries of the major higher education bills.

For those who prefer highlights, here are a few policy snapshots:

SB 1080 Andrew’s Law – the bill to strengthen anti-hazing laws and extend immunity to individuals who call law enforcement or medical personnel to help a hazing victim.  This bill was named after Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who passed away as a result of an off-campus hazing incident.

HB 839 Intellectual Diversity Audit – once again, faculty and students will not be required to fill out a viewpoint survey. The bill may be back next Session, but it failed to pass the Florida Senate, therefore the idea will not become law this year.

SB 7076 University Building Designations – The Florida Senate passed the bill unanimously, but the measure was never taken up in the Florida House.

HB 27/SB 1640 Deregulation of Interior Design – Though the bill made it through all committees in the House and Senate, neither side took up the measure before the full membership.

No bills that expanded guns on university campus passed the House or the Senate this year.

In reality, the successes this session were measured by what died as opposed to what passed. So much of the legislation introduced was aimed at placing restrictions on universities in the wake of incidents that happened to other universities in the system.

It won’t be long before the Legislature starts meeting again, as the 2020 Legislative Session will begin in January. We will be advocating again for Florida State University very soon.

Thank you, once again, for your interest in Governmental Relations.


Kathy Mears

Spotlight on Bill

Bills that Passed

SB 190 – Higher Education by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), modifies Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) and carryforward provisions for state universities and Florida College System (FCS) institutions.  Additionally, the bill revises the Bright Futures Scholarship program, the articulation agreement, and duties of the Board of Governors (BOG).

  • Relating to State Board of Education (SBE) and Board of Governors (BOG) PECO and space needs, the bill:
    • Specifies that the required SBE and BOG prioritized list include the top 2 ranked priorities for each university.
    • Includes criteria for the points-based prioritized list that the SBE and BOG must use, and specifies the weighting scale.
    • Includes criteria for new construction, renovation, or remodeling projects that have received an appropriation which apply to universities and to all colleges.
    • Requires the SBE and BOG to review space needs calculation methodologies based on current requirements and to report recommendations to the Legislature by October 31, 2019.
  • Relating to Florida College System (FCS) institution carry-forward funds, the bill requires each spending plan be submitted to the local board of trustees (BOT) by September 1, 2020, and requires:
    • Spending plans for smaller FCS institutions will be submitted to the SBE; and
    • Spending plans for larger FCS institutions must be submitted to the SBE for approval and amendment by October 1, 2020.
  • Relating to state university carry-forward funds, the bill requires submission of a spending plan for funds in excess of the specified level to be submitted to the local BOT by September 1, 2020, and:
    • Requires BOG review, approval, and amendment by October 1, 2020.
    • Specifies authorized expenditures that the spending plan may only include.
    • Authorizes the university to spend the minimum carry-forward balance for a demonstrated emergency.
  • 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, to receive an award during the fall term.
    • Codifies the existing State Board of Education rule that allows Florida private school graduates to meet the high school credential-specific eligibility criterion.
    • Extends the annual deadline, from August 31 to December 31, for 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 Florida Department of Education (DOE) to publish ongoing updates to the examination scores.
  • Establishes the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities.
  • Requires the BOG to develop and annually deliver a training program for trustees, which must be completed within 1 year of appointment and reappointment.
  • Establishes reporting requirements regarding district and institution compliance with law, to require:
    • The Commissioner of Education to report to the SBE any findings by the Auditor General that a district school board or FCS institution is acting without statutory authority or contrary to state law
    • The Chancellor of the State University System to report to the BOG any findings by the Auditor General that a state university is acting without statutory authority or contrary to state law.

Effective July 1, 2019

CS/CS/CS/SB 1080 – Hazing by Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), amends and reorganizes the definition of hazing in Florida Statutes, to include the perpetuation or furtherance of a tradition or ritual of any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution.

Current law protects persons who are members of or applicants to a student organization from hazing. The bill adds a person who is a former member of the organization as a person who is protected. The bill provides that persons who solicit others to commit the crime of hazing or who plan any act of hazing may be prosecuted as if they actively participated in the hazing event. If the hazing results in a permanent injury to the victim, the crime is a third degree felony.

Additionally, the bill provides that a person who provides aid, before medical assistance, law enforcement, or campus security arrive on the scene or if an individual is the first to call 911 seeking medical attention for a hazing victim, and who otherwise cooperates with and assists first responders may not be prosecuted for the crime of hazing.

Finally, the bill was amended to add a short title to the bill, “Andrew’s Law” in honor of Florida State University hazing victim, Andrew Coffee.  The bill is effective October 1, 2019.

HB 7001 – State University DSO Research Funding by Representative Vance Aloupis (R – Miami), saves from repeal the public meeting exemption for any portion of a meeting of the board of directors of a university DSO, or of the executive committee or other committees of such board, at which the board or committee discusses a proposal seeking research funding from the DSO or a plan or program for either initiating or supporting research.  Effective October 1, 2019

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. 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.

Effective October 1, 2019

CS/CS/HB 741 – Anti-Semitism by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay),amends the Florida Educational Equality Act (FEEA) to add religion as a protected class with regard to discrimination against students and employees in Florida’s K-20 public education system. The bill requires a public K-20 educational institution to treat discrimination by students or employees or resulting from institutional policies motivated by anti-Semitism in an identical manner to discrimination motivated by race.

The bill also amends the FEEA to add a definition of anti-Semitism that similar to the definition adopted by the U.S. Department of State’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, providing that “anti-Semitism” is a certain perception of Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people, rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward Jewish community institutions or religious facilities. The definition includes examples of what classifies as anti-Semitism including those related to Jewish people generally and the State of Israel.

The bill includes legislative intent that the new law defining anti-Semitism may not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or the Florida Constitution, and prohibits construction of the law in conflict with federal or state discrimination laws.  The bill is effective upon becoming law.

CS/CS/HB 547 – 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.

Additionally, the bill revises the membership of the board of directors for Florida Prepaid College Board’s direct-support organization.  Effective July 1, 2019

CS/CS/HB 595 – Alcohol or Drug Overdose Prosecutions 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.

Effective July 1, 2019

CS/SB 7014 – Government Accountability by Senator Ed Hooper (R – Palm Harbor), amends various statutes to enhance government accountability and auditing processes based on recommendations noted in recent reports by the Auditor General. The bill:

  • Authorizes the Governor or Commissioner of Education, or designee, to notify the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee if an entity fails to comply with certain auditing and financial reporting requirements;
  • Provides definitions for the terms “abuse,” “fraud,” and “waste;”
  • Requires each agency, the judicial branch, the Justice Administrative Commission, state attorneys, public defenders, criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, capital collateral regional counsel, the Guardian Ad Litem program, local governmental entities, charter schools, school districts, Florida College System institutions, and state universities to establish and maintain internal controls designed to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse;
  • Requires counties, municipalities, special districts, and water management districts to maintain certain budget documents on their websites for specified timeframes;
  • Revises the monthly financial statement requirements for water management districts;
  • Provides that the Department of Financial Services may request additional information from local government entities when preparing its annual verified report;
  • Revises the membership, and restrictions thereof, for an auditor selection committee of a county, municipality, special district, district school board, charter school, or charter technical career center;
  • Requires completion of an annual financial audit of the Florida Virtual School; and
  • Requires the Florida College System and Florida State University System to comply with s. 110.1127, F.S., for employee background screenings.

Chapter Law 2019-15, Effective July 1, 2019

CS/CS/SB 7030 -- Implementation of Legislative Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), builds upon the school safety and security foundation established during the 2018 legislative session by addressing the school safety and security recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (commission), and strengthening accountability and compliance oversight authority. Specifically, the bill:

  • Improves school security measures by:
    • Establishing a workgroup to review campus hardening policies and recommend a prioritized list of strategies for implementation and related policy and funding enhancements;
    • Prioritizing the use of the school security risk assessment tool to be conducted in collaboration with appropriate public safety agencies;
    • Expanding the personnel who may serve as a school district’s school safety specialist to include certain law enforcement officers employed by the sheriff’s office and/or school district employees or personnel;
    • Expanding school district options and eligibility for participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
    • Expanding options for school guardian training by sheriffs, and requiring consultation with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and
    • Revising the content of student records related to student behavior and services and establishing timely transfer of student records.
  • Enhances student safety by:
    • Requiring improved school safety incident reporting;
    • Promoting the FortifyFL mobile suspicious activity reporting tool;
    • Expediting services for students with mental or behavioral disorders; o Requiring active assailant response plans;
    • Establishing a standardizing behavioral threat assessment instrument for school districts and charter schools;
    • Establishing a workgroup to make recommendations regarding the development of a statewide threat assessment database.
    • Providing for the continuation of intervention services for students who transfer to a different school; and
    • Expanding the data sources included in the centralized integrated data repository.
  • Provides school districts with greater flexibility to improve school safety by authorizing the transfer of additional categorical funds within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) towards school safety expenditures, and expands authorized uses of the safe schools allocation.
  • Expands the authorized uses of the mental health assistance allocation, provides school district flexibility for expenditures, and requires a program and expenditure plan for school districts and charter schools.
  • Criminalizes the false personation of a school guardian.

Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

CS/SB 292 – Education by Senator Tom Lee (R – Brandon), protects the ability of a public school student to wear a military uniform to his or her graduation ceremony. Specifically, the bill prohibits a district school board from barring a student from lawfully wearing to his or her graduation ceremony a uniform of any of the Armed Forces of the state or of the United States.  The bill is effective upon becoming law.

CS/CS/SB 168 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Senator Joe Gruters (R - Sarasota, FSU Alum), creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” (Act) to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Specifically, the bill:s

  • Prohibits any state or local entity or covered body from having a law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom which impedes a law enforcement agency from communicating or cooperating with a federal immigration agency (FIA) on immigration enforcement;
  • Prohibits any restriction on a covered body’s ability to use, maintain, or exchange immigration information for certain purposes;
  • Requires a covered body use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law;
  • Prohibits any state or local governmental entity or law enforcement agency from having a sanctuary policy;
  • Requires a county correctional facility to enter into an agreement with a FIA for reimbursement of costs associated with housing inmates under a detainer request.
  • Requires an official or employee of a covered body to report a violation of the Act to the Attorney General or state attorney; failure to report a violation may result in suspension or removal from office;
  • Authorizes the Attorney General or a state attorney to seek an injunction against a covered body that violates the Act;
  • Imposes a civil penalty of at least $1,000 but no more than $5,000 for each day a policy that violates the Act was in effect;
  • Creates a civil cause of action for a person injured by the conduct of an alien unlawfully present in the United States against a covered body whose violation of the Act contributed to the person’s injury;
  • Prohibits the expenditure of public funds to reimburse or defend a public official or employee who violates the Act; and
  • Suspends state grant funding eligibility for 5 years for a covered body that violates the Act.

Effective July 1, 2019

CS/HB 213 – Immunization Registry by Representative Ralph Massullo (R – Beverly Hills), requires physicians, physician assistants, and nurses who administer vaccines to children through age 17, or to certain college or university students, to report the vaccinations to the immunization registry.

The bill authorizes college or university students to refuse to be included in the immunization registry. The bill requires a parent or college student to submit an opt-out form to the health care practitioner or entity providing the immunization or directly to the Department of Health (DOH). DOH must remove any identifying records of a child or college student who has opted out of the immunization registry.

The bill also authorizes automated data uploads to the immunization registry from existing electronic health record systems. The bill eliminates DOH’s specific rulemaking and replaces it with general authority to adopt rules as needed to administer the communicable disease prevention program.

The bill requires school districts and private schools to have a policy that requires each student to have a certification of immunizations on file with the state’s electronic immunization registry. However, the school must still accept the DOH-approved immunization form if the child’s parent has opted out of the immunization registry.  Effective January 1, 2021

CS/HB 807 – Civics Education by Representative Vance Alloupis (R – Miami), requires all instructional materials for the civics education course required for middle school students be reviewed and approved by Florida’s Commissioner of Education in consultation with civics organizations and stakeholders. Any errors or inaccuracies in state-adopted civics materials identified by the Commissioner, must be corrected pursuant to current statutory procedures.

The bill requires the Commissioner to review and make recommendations for improvements to current state-adopted civics material and the statewide civics end-of-course assessment by December 31, 2019. The Department of Education is required to review the civics education course standards by December 31, 2020.  Effective July 1, 2019

CS/SB 7070 – K-12 Education by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), establishes and modifies K-12 education programs to support students and families, public schools, and teachers. The bill expands educational choice and opportunity for low-income families, supports public schools by expanding student support services and reducing regulations, and benefits teachers by removing teacher certification barriers and providing incentive awards.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Provides additional educational options and support for families by:
    • Creating the Family Empowerment Scholarship to help a specified number of students from low-income families attend an eligible private school.
    • Authorizing unallocated funds under the Hope Scholarship Program to be used to fund the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
    • Expanding the definition of a persistently low-performing school.
  • Provides support for public schools, teachers, and principals by:
    • Modifying the Best and Brightest Teachers and Principals Scholarship Programs to provide recruitment and retention bonus funds to classroom teachers, awards to principals based on the academic improvement of schools, and recognition bonus funds to all instructional personnel.
    • Modifying teacher certification requirements relating to the general knowledge examination, requiring changes to specified certification examination fees, and specifying that classroom teachers only are required to demonstrate mastery of general knowledge.
    • Removing school district requirements for an educational plant survey and cost per student station restrictions when local funds are used for facility construction.
    • Modifying funding for wraparound services by establishing a categorical program to help district-managed turnaround schools offer services to improve the academic and community welfare of students and families.
    • Promoting the expansion of community schools to engage and support parents and community organizations to improve student learning and well-being.
    • Modifying the funding compression allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to make it permanent.

Effective July 1, 2019

CS/HB 107 — Wireless Communications While Driving by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa), changes current enforcement of the ban on texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense, which will allow a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle solely for texting while driving.

The bill creates school and work zones, that authorizes enforcement of a ban on the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while operating a motor vehicle in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area as a primary offense punishable as a moving violation.

The bill provides for enforcement only by a warning from October 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, after which a person may be issued a citation. For both texting while driving and use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while operating a motor vehicle in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone the bill:

  • Allows for a statewide public education and awareness campaign;
  • Requires a law enforcement officer to inform the motor vehicle operator that he or she has a right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device;
  • Prohibits a law enforcement officer from accessing the wireless communications device without a warrant, confiscating the device while waiting for the issuance of a warrant, or using coercion or other improper method to convince the operator to provide access to such device without a warrant; and
  • Requires a law enforcement officer to record the race and ethnicity of a person issued a citation for texting while driving or for the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while operating a motor vehicle in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2019, with a later effective date of October 1, 2019, for the implementation of the prohibition on the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in school and work zones.

Bills that Failed

HB 27 – Deregulation of Professions and Occupations by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R – Clermont) and SB 1640 by Senator Ben Albritton (R – Bartow), would have deregulated several professions including interior designers and would have eliminated the additional business license required for architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and geologists.  The bills were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

HB 277 – Jury Service by Representative Melony Bell (R – Fort Meade), and SB 760 by Senator Gayle Harrell (R – Stuart), allowed a person who is 18 to 21 years of age to be excused from jury service, upon request, if the person is actively enrolled as a full-time student in high school or at a Florida College System institution, state university, private postsecondary educational institution, or career center. The bill were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

SB 7076 – State University Building Designations by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), established a process for naming and renaming state university facilities. The bill required the BOG to adopt regulations to specify authority, procedures, and elements related to the naming or renaming of any state university facilities. Additionally, the bill repealed Florida law that designated the building housing the FSU College of Law as the B.K. Roberts Hall and provided legislative intent regarding the naming of the FSU College of Law facility.  The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

HB 7115 – Postsecondary Education Executive Search by Representative Chris Latvala (R – Clearwater), created an exemption from public record and public meeting requirements for information associated with the applicant recruitment process and discussions associated with the applicant search for certain state university and FCS institution employees. Specifically, the bill provided that any personal identifying information of an applicant for president or provost of any state university or FCS institution is exempt from public record requirements. It also creates a public meeting exemption for any meeting held for the purpose of identifying or vetting applicants for president or provost of any state university or FCS institution.  The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.