March 02, 2020
Volume 27, Number 8
As the 2020 Session starts to wind down, news on the budget for the coming year and major higher-education legislation continues to be scarce.
House and Senate conferees have yet to be named, budget allocations have not been announced and a conference schedule, even in draft form, has yet to be released. But movement toward budget negotiations should occur within the next few days, if legislators hope to conclude this session on time next Friday.
President Thrasher continues to have “touch-base” meetings with key legislative leaders to convey the importance of investing in our public universities in general and Florida State University in particular.
State lawmakers will be wrapping up their committee work tomorrow and, as such, are working through lengthy agendas and a flurry of amendments to the bills they will be hearing today and tomorrow.
Higher education bills will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow, and some bills of interest are ready and waiting for floor action later this week. Updates on these and other bills being tracked are in the Spotlight on Bills section of this newsletter.
This eighth week of the session is shaping up to be a big one and will be covered extensively by The Florida Channel (on TV and at thefloridachannel.org). As always, please feel free to contact me with questions about bills, amendments, and bill analysis, as well as any budget concerns. I can be reached at (850) 644-1728 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FSU Day at the Capitol
PCB EDC 4 - Education by Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R – Eustis)
PCB EDC 4 - Education by Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R – Eustis), provides flexibility for teacher preparation programs and professional development requirements in order to improve professional growth and student learning.
Specifically, the bill requires each district school board to calculate a proportionate share of professional development funds for each classroom teacher. Each classroom teacher must be allowed to use up to 25 percent of his or her proportionate share of funds to select professional development that addresses the academic needs of students or an identified area of professional growth. The DOE must identify professional development opportunities that would require the classroom teacher to demonstrate proficiency in a specific classroom practice.
The bill focuses teacher professional development on professional growth and student learning by allowing mandatory training on a topic not linked to these outcomes to count toward in-service requirements only once per 5-year professional certificate validity cycle.
The bill provides that students must meet the GPA and General Knowledge Test requirements to complete a teacher preparation program and removes the requirements as admission prerequisites. Accordingly, the bill removes the authority for teacher preparation programs to waive admission requirements.
The bill also requires the Commissioner of Education to submit a report by December 1, 2020, to the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House, the Board of Governors, and the State Board of Education, to provide recommendations addressing the feasibility of implementing the Pathways in Technology Early College High School program, or a similar program, in Florida.
The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee and was filed as a committee bill. A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 1220 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), was amended last week, to add provisions relating to charter schools, annual growth of the Family Empowerment Scholarship, national assessments, dual enrollment bonus funding, the PEER pilot program, and workforce education. The bill is now waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Committee tomorrow.
CS/SB 542 – Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville)
CS/SB 542 – Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), establishes a 10-day “back-to-school” sales tax holiday, from Friday, July 31, 2020 to Sunday, August 9, 2020, for certain clothing, school supplies, personal computers, and personal computer-related accessories. The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations committee last week. A comparable bill in the House, HB 7097 by Representative Bryan Aliva (R – Hialeah), reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee.
SB 7046 – State Group Insurance Program by Senator Ed Hooper (R – Palm Harbor)
SB 7046 – State Group Insurance Program by Senator Ed Hooper (R – Palm Harbor), amends the State Group Insurance Program administered by the Department of Management Services.
For the State Group Insurance Program, the bill:
- Requires the department to establish an anti-fraud program.
- Defines particular instances that will be deemed to be fraudulent based on the acts of the providers and imposes civil and criminal penalties.
- Deletes obsolete language regarding employees paid from the other-personal-services appropriations categories and hired before April 1, 2013.
For the State Employee Health Insurance Program, the bill:
- Repeals the implementation of the metal tier health insurance plans, which had been scheduled for implementation during the 2020 plan year.
- Codifies the regions that must be used for any procurement of HMO services beginning in 2023. These regions are based on utilization and referral patterns studied by DMS recently and the rule recommended by the department.
- Requires an HMO option to be available to all enrollees of the program living in Florida.
For the Prescription Drug Program, the bill:
- Clarifies the implementation of a prescription drug formulary management. The department and the pharmacy benefit manager are not permitted to substitute their judgment over the judgment of the prescriber regarding whether a prescription drug is medically necessary for the treatment of a patient. The department or pharmacy benefit manager may ask specific questions of the prescriber to ensure the patient is served well.
- The bill requires the department to ensure that all rebates, fees and other charges related to pharmacy spend are remitted to the state for the benefit of the program.
The bill is expected to have a positive but indeterminate fiscal impact on the State Employees Group Self-Insurance Trust Fund.
The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee last week. There is no Senate companion at this time.
CS/HB 101 – Public Construction by Representative Alex Andrade (R – Pensacola)
CS/HB 101 – Public Construction by Representative Alex Andrade (R – Pensacola), clarifies that retainage is a common construction practice that allows a portion of an agreed upon contract price to be withheld until the work is substantially complete to assure that a contract or subcontract will complete the construction project. The bill changes the limits on retainage permitted to be withheld on state and local government contracts as follows:
For contracts more than $200,000, the bill reduces the maximum amount that may be retained:
- From ten percent before half of the work is complete, and five percent after half of the work is complete
- To five percent for the entire project; and
- From ten percent for the entire project if the government entity is a municipality with a population of 25,000 or less or a county with a population of 100,000 or less
- To five percent for the entire project.
The bill repeals:
- The ability of a contractor to make a request that government entity release up to half of the retained amount after half of the project is completed; and
- The ability of a contractor to withhold more than five percent of each progress payment to his or her subcontractors after half of a project for a government entity is completed.
For contracts less than $200,000, the bill reduces the amount that the state may retain from a progress payment to a contractor from ten percent to five percent.
The bill passed by the Legislature last week and will go to the Governor for signature.
CS/CS/CS/HB 187 – Postsecondary Education for Secondary Students by Representative Ardian Zika (R – Land O’ Lakes)
CS/CS/CS/HB 187 – Postsecondary Education for Secondary Students by Representative Ardian Zika (R – Land O’ Lakes), renames “collegiate high school programs” as “early college programs,” expands the programs from 1 to 2 years, and allows charter and private schools to establish programs with a state college, state university, or other eligible postsecondary institution.
The bill requires the programs be made available to students in grades 11 and 12 and specifies that they must include an option for a student to graduate from high school with an associate degree. The bill also prohibits district school boards and Florida College System (FCS) institutions from limiting the number of eligible students who may enroll in dual enrollment programs, including early college programs, unless a 1-year waiver is granted by the Commissioner of Education.
The dual enrollment articulation agreement between a FCS institution and a school district must include at least one early admission program, career early admission program, or early college program. The bill requires articulation agreements to address the costs associated with courses delivered using technology to be borne by both entities. The bill establishes reporting requirements for district school boards, postsecondary institutions, and the Department of Education (DOE) regarding early college programs and dual enrollment articulation agreements.
The bill requires home education students to meet the same minimum common placement test score as other dually enrolled students for participation in college credit dual enrollment and limits the college credit dual enrollment exceptions to students who exceed the minimum score on the common placement test.
The bill prohibits dual enrollment articulation agreements from passing along costs associated with tuition and fees, including registration and laboratory fees, and instructional materials to a student’s private school of enrollment or being funded through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). The bill also provides that costs associated with the early college program may not be passed on to private school students, their private school, or be funded through the FEFP.
The bill requires the dual enrollment transfer guarantees statement developed by the DOE to identify English and mathematics courses that require a grade of “C” or higher and include a notice stating that grades in college credit courses remain on the student’s permanent record.
The bill requires students participating in dual enrollment and their parent to sign a form acknowledging that dual enrollment course grades are included in the student’s college GPA, become part of the student’s permanent record, and may affect the student’s financial aid eligibility which the school keeps on file.
The bill is waiting to be heard by the full House. A comparable bill in the Senate, SB 62 by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), is scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations committee tomorrow.
SB 523 – Mastery-based Education by Representative Nick DiCeglie (R – Largo)
SB 523 – Mastery-based Education by Representative Nick DiCeglie (R – Largo), revises and renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program within the Department of Education (DOE) which is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Specifically, the bill:
- Renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program as the Mastery-Based Education Program.
- Allows developmental research schools and any public school district in the state to submit an application to the DOE to participate in the program.
- Authorizes participating lab schools and school districts to approve and use an alternative interpretation of letter grades to measure student success in grades 6 through 12; however, school districts must continue to use a 4-point scale for calculating a student’s grade-point average.
- Provides that students who earn high school credit through a mastery-based education program have fair and equitable access to postsecondary education.
The passed out of the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate. There is no Senate companion at this time.
Update on Bills
CS/HB 7087 (formerly EDC 3) – Higher Education by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay)
CS/HB 7087 (formerly EDC 3) – Higher Education by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), was amended last week to remove the merger between Florida State University and New College and created a merger between the University of Florida and New College. The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Committee. There is no Senate companion at this time.
CS/SB 774 - Public Records and Public Meetings/Applicants for President/State University or Florida College System Institution by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens)
CS/SB 774 - Public Records and Public Meetings/Applicants for President/State University or Florida College System Institution by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), makes confidential and exempt from public disclosure requirements any personal identifying information of an applicant for the position of president of a state university or Florida College System institution. The bill was amended to:
- Remove the requirement that a final group of applicants constitutes three or more;
- Provide for the transcription and recordation of any portion of a closed meeting; and
- Delay the effective date to July 1, 2020.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Rules Committee last week and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate. A similar bill in the House, HB 7081 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R – Springhill), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
CS/CS/646 – Intercollegiate Athlete compensation and Rights by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R – Melbourne)
CS/CS/646 – Intercollegiate Athlete compensation and Rights by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R – Melbourne), was amended last week to:
- Prohibit an entity whose purpose includes benefiting a postsecondary educational institution or its athletic program (or an employee, officer, or director of such entity) from compensating a current or prospective intercollegiate athlete for the use of her or his name, image, or likeness (NIL).
- Require a postsecondary educational institution to conduct a financial literacy and life skills workshop at the beginning of the intercollegiate athlete’s first and third academic years and specifies conditions for the workshop.
- Extend the effective date of the bill from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Rules Committee and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate. A similar bill in the House, HB 7051 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R – Lighthouse Point), is waiting to be heard by the full House.
CS/CS/HB 613 – Higher Education by Representative Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers)
CS/CS/HB 613 – Higher Education by Representative Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers) revises provisions relating to the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors (BOG) responsibilities, standards for preeminent state research universities programs, performance-based metrics for state universities. The bill was amended last week with a strike-all amendment that:
- Requires the Board of Governors (BOG) and the State Board of Education (SBE) to report annually on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution by conducting a survey.
- Revises the data for academic and research excellence standards of preeminent institutions by using more timely performance data and requiring the standards to be reported annually in the BOG Accountability Plan.
- Repeals the emerging preeminent state research university designation and creates State Universities of Distinction. The bill requires the BOG to establish standards and measures for State Universities of Distinction which identify universities who are achieving excellence, meeting state workforce needs, and fostering an innovation economy.
- Modifies state university performance funding metrics to include metrics that focus on the success rate of “2+2” Associate in Arts (AA) degree transfer students and Pell Grant students; and prohibits the adjustment of such metrics once data has been received.
- Requires Florida College System institutions and state universities be given the choice to provide either an opt-in or an opt-out provision to students regarding textbook and instructional materials affordability.
- Removes the limitation that prohibits a Phosphate Research and Activities Board member from serving more than 180 days after the expiration of his or her term, until a successor is appointed.
- Creates the Florida Institute for Greater Citizenship at FSU for the purpose of providing Floridians with a bipartisan, world-class institute for intellectual diversity. The institute shall establish affiliate institutes at UF with a focus on American Ideals and at FIU with a focus on Free Market Economics.
- Revises the Florida Public Student Assistance Grant Program
- Requires the BOG legislative budget request to include 5-year trend information on the number of faculty and administrators at each university along with the proportion of full-time equivalent (FTE) dedicated to instruction and research compared to administration and specifies that the growth rate of administrators at any state university may not exceed the growth rate of faculty.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Education Committee. The Senate companion, SB 72 by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), is scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations Committee tomorrow.