February 24, 2020
Volume 27, Number 7
Budgets for each chamber have passed and are shelved, waiting for conference to begin. Conference committee members, who have yet to be named, will include Senators appointed by the Senate President and House members appointed by the Speaker. They will be tasked with reaching a final agreement on the budget.
Before conference can begin, however, a key first step in the budget negotiations is determining the allocations lawmakers are willing to put toward major budget items like education, economic development and healthcare.
Legislative leaders say compromises will be needed to bridge the differences in the House and Senate proposals. The budgets are currently about $1.5 billion apart.
A major area of budget contention is K-12 education funding for teacher salaries. The Senate proposes $500 million for teachers and other school personnel, with a specific formula for each. The House, on the other hand, proposes $650 million with a State-wide average growth for teacher raises only. Compromise on this issue will most likely unlock the budget negotiations, maybe as soon as late this week or early next.
House and Senate Appropriations Committees have full meeting agendas this week, as does the Senate Education Appropriations Committee. This may be one of the last weeks these committees meet, making it difficult for bills left on their agendas to pass this session.
At this point in the session, the seventh of nine weeks, very few bills have been passed on to the Governor.
Many of the bills of interest that have been highlighted in this newsletter previously continue to move through the committee process or are awaiting a hearing by the full House or Senate. A new bill that was heard in a House education committee last week, merging New College of Florida with Florida State University, will receive a second hearing tomorrow. An amendment that instead transfers New College to the University of Florida is pending. Please see the Spotlight on Bills section for more information about this and other bills of interest.
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions about the budget or for copies of bills and their analysis. I can be reached at (850) 644-1728 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember that legislative activities are shown live on the Florida Channel, on TV and at thefloridachannel.org.
HB 5007 - State Administered Retirement Systems by Representative Travis Cummings (R – Orange Park)
HB 5007 - State Administered Retirement Systems by Representative Travis Cummings (R – Orange Park), revises the employer contribution rates for the Florida Retirement System based on the 2019 Actuarial Valuation.
The bill conforms the law to the House proposed 2020-21 General Appropriations Act (GAA) as retirement contributions are included in the GAA. This unfunded increase equates to approximately $20 million to the State University System. FSU’s portion is $2,070,059.
The rate bill passed the legislature and will go to the Governor for signature. The funding is pending in the budgeting conference process.
CS/SB 1220 – Education by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens)
CS/SB 1220 – Education by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), provides additional educational and professional growth opportunities for students and teachers. The bill modifies provisions relating to educator preparation programs, subject area mastery for and renewal of educator certificates, the Education Practices Commission (EPC), and teacher professional development. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies admissions, core curricula, and instructional requirements for initial teacher preparation (ITP) and educator preparation institute (EPI) programs by:
- Changing from ITP program admission requirements to program requirements the provisions related to student grade point average and mastery of general knowledge.
- Modifying ITP program core curricula relating to reading instructional strategies and adding a new requirement for mental health strategies and support.
- Requiring ITP and EPI programs to include the opportunity for students to complete an endorsement, and to include specified instruction required for instructional personnel.
- Modifying ITP and EPI continuing approval requirements to require that employer surveys include assessments of student proficiency.
- Modifies educator certification requirements to:
- Authorize an additional option to demonstrate mastery of subject area competence to include a bachelor’s degree in the subject area, with conditions.
- Require that a teacher may earn inservice points only once during a certificate renewal period for training that is not related to student learning or professional growth.
- Modifies requirements relating to the EPC, including that:
- The Commissioner of Education may select and remove the EPC executive director, and may establish the duties of the executive director.
- Modifies school district professional development (PD) systems and creates new PD opportunities by:
- Requiring district to calculate a proportional share of PD funds for each teacher, and specifies that each teacher may use up to 25 percent of that share for specified PD.
- Requiring the DOE and school districts to create an annual and five-year model calendar of state-mandated PD.
- Requiring the DOE to maintain a statewide registry of approved professional development providers.
- Creating the Professional Development Choice Pilot Program, subject to appropriation, to allow a teacher to receive a grant of up to $500 for PD aligned to standards.
- Creating the Professional Education Excellence Resources (PEER) Pilot Program in Clay, Pinellas, and Walton counties to allow a teacher extended time for PD, teacher collaboration, and teacher leadership opportunities.
- The bill also modifies the eligibility requirements of the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) and the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) scholarship by:
- Expanding FES eligibility to a student who received a FTC scholarship in the prior year and was in a public school the year prior to initial receipt of the FTC scholarship.
- Aligning the FES and FTC scholarship eligibility by allowing an FES scholarship student to participate in no more than two courses from a virtual school or related program; providing that the FES is not subject to the maximum funding limit; and increasing FTC scholarship income eligibility threshold to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education tomorrow. A comparable bill in the House, HB 7067 by Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R – Eustis), is scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations Committee tomorrow.
SB 1284 – Florida Land Subsidence Research Initiative by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens)
SB 1284 – Florida Land Subsidence Research Initiative by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), creates the Florida Land Subsidence Research Initiative between the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Florida International University (FIU). The goal of the initiative is to collect and analyze information to understand natural hazards, such as land subsidence and sinkholes, and their effects on sea-level rise.
The bill requires DEP to contract with FIU to implement the initiative. FIU must collaborate with Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of North Florida, and the University of South Florida to implement the initiative. Funds specifically appropriated by the legislature for the initiative must be allocated by DEP to FIU to achieve the initiative’s goals. FIU must use a portion of these funds to engage other state universities to implement the initiative statewide.
The bill reported favorably the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and is now waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. A similar bill in the House, HB 1157 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R – Springhill), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
CS/SB 1750 – High School Graduation Requirement by Senator Bill Montford (D – Tallahassee, FSU Alum)
CS/SB 1750 – High School Graduation Requirement by Senator Bill Montford (D – Tallahassee, FSU Alum), modifies the requirement that a student complete one credit in fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or an identified practical arts course as a part of the 24 credits required to earn a standard high school diploma. The bill replaces the option to complete one credit in practical arts with the option to complete one credit in career and technical education identified in the Course Code Directory. The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education last week. A similar bill in the House, HB 403 by Representative Jason Shoaf (R – Blountstown, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard by the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.
CS/CS/SB 662 — Education and the Military by Senator Tom Wright (R – Port Orange)
CS/CS/SB 662 — Education and the Military by Senator Tom Wright (R – Port Orange), gives greater flexibility to transitioning students from military families by considering a student a resident of the school district at the point in time in which the parent is transferred or pending transfer to a military installation within the state rather than within the district, for purposes of enrollment and preferential treatment in special programs.
The bill also modifies the school grading model for high schools by adding to the calculation the percentage of students who earn a Category II Armed Forces Qualification Test score or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as a school grade college and career acceleration component. Only the scores of students who have participated for 2 years in JROTC; enlisted in the military; been accepted into a U.S. military academy; or received documented military career counseling from a military recruiter may be included in the calculation.
The bill reported favorably by the Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee last. Week. A similar bill in the House, CS/CS/HB 445 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R – Merritt Island, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
SB 1634 – Parental Rights by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland)
SB 1634 – Parental Rights by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), establishes the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” The bill provides that the state, its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or other institution may not infringe upon the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of a minor child. If those entities infringe upon a parent’s fundamental right, they must demonstrate that the action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest, and the action must be narrowly tailored and not otherwise served by less restrictive means.
The bill enumerates a list of rights that a parent possesses in order to direct the education of his or her child and be informed about the child’s educational programs. The bill also requires the school district to promote parental involvement in the public school system by providing access to the child’s studies and instructional materials while also recognizing a parent’s right to withdraw the child from objectionable portions of the school’s curriculum.
The bill also requires a parent’s permission before a health care practitioner may provide services, prescribe medicine to the child, or perform a medical procedure, unless otherwise provided by law. The bill provides a misdemeanor penalty for a health care practitioner or similar person who violates the health care provisions and subjects these persons to disciplinary actions.
The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee last week and is now waiting to be heard by the Rules Committee onWednesday. A similar bill in the House, CS/HB 1059 by Representative Erin Grall (R – Vero Beach), reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee.
Update on Bills
CS/CS/HB 883 – Education by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville)
CS/CS/HB 883 – Education by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), improves the processes by which educational personnel who commit sexual misconduct with a student would be prohibited from further contact with students. Additionally, the bill prohibits employment of such individuals in positions that have direct contact with students in public schools, charter schools, and private schools participating in the state scholarship program. The bill is waiting to be heard by the full House. The Senate companion, SB 534 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), is waiting to be heard in the Appropriations Committee.