March 09, 2020
Volume 27, Number 9
Budget negotiations between the House and Senate began on Saturday and continued into late last night. Some progress on reconciling the two budgets was made but the major holdup appears to be K-12 education issues in general and teacher-salary differences in particular.
Conference negotiations will resume today and unsettled issues will be “bumped up” to the full Appropriations chairs to resolve later this afternoon. To finish on time, the budget must be reconciled by tomorrow in order to meet the mandatory 72-hour cooling-off period before a final vote can be taken.
In the meantime, some substantive legislation continues to move forward while other such bills have stalled. The last week of the session typically produces a mountain of bills and amendments – along with lengthy debates – as the proceedings draw to a close. Information on relevant bills that are still moving through the process is in the Spotlight on Bills section below, including an update on key higher-education legislation that will be in play this week.
As always, legislative conference, committee-meeting and chamber-floor debates and activities will be shown or reported on by the Florida Channel. Should state lawmakers complete their work by Friday evening, the sine die ceremony will air as well.
Please feel free to contact me should you have questions about bills and their analysis. I can be reached at (850) 644-1728 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With just one week left to the regular Legislative Session, the House and Senate appointed Budget conferees and held their first meetings on Saturday. Below is a list of the education conferees:
|Senate Conferees (At Large)||House Conferees|
|Rob Bradley, Chair||Travis Cummings, Chair|
|Lizbeth Benacquisto||Bryan Avila|
|Oscar Brynon (FSU Alum)||Ben Diamond|
|Anitere Flores||Dane Eagle|
|Audrey Gibson (FSU Alum)||Heather Fitzenhagen|
|Bill Montford (FSU Alum)||Evan Jenne (FSU Alum)|
|Jose Rodriguez||Mike La Rosa|
|David Simmons||Kionne McGhee|
|Wilton Simpson||Ray Rodrigues|
|House Higher Education/Senate Education|
|Kelli Stargel, Chair||Randy Fine, Chair|
|Dennis Baxley (FSU Alum)||Ramon Alexander|
|Lauren Book||James Buchanan (FSU Alum)|
|Janet Cruz||Michael Caruso|
|Manny Diaz||Fentrice Driskell|
|Anitere Flores||Dotie Joseph|
|Bill Montford (FSU Alum)||Randall Maggard|
|Jason Pizzo||Amber Mariano|
|David Simmons||Wengay Newton|
|Mel Ponder (FSU Alum)|
|William Robinson, Jr.|
|Carlos Guillermo Smith|
CS/CS/SB 506 – Public Procurement Services by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville)
Update on Bills
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), is a comprehensive higher education bill that:
- Requires the Board of Governors (BOG) and the State Board of Education to report annually on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution by conducting a survey.
- Creates the Florida Institute for Great Citizenship at Florida State University to create opportunities for civic engagement and public policy discussion and increase civic literacy and requires the institute to establish affiliate institutes at the University of Florida and Florida International University.
- 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 and amends the criteria for preeminence to include the concordant ACT score.
- Creates State Universities of Distinction and requires the BOG to establish standards and measures 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 (FCS) 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.
- 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.
- Requires the selection of a university president to be from at least three candidates.
- Provides that a university board of trustees may use other factors, including price, for the procurement of construction management and program management, as long as these factors comply with BOG regulations.
- Revises dates for state university and FCS institution reporting of end-of-year fund balances and authorizes a spending plan to include funds in a contingency reserve for expenses incurred as a result of a state emergency declared by the Governor.
- Aligns requirements for the financial aid programs in the Florida Student Assistance Grant program and aligns the requirements of the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to other state scholarship programs.
The bill is waiting to be heard by the full House. The Senate companion, SB 72 by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), is very similar to the House bill. However, the Senate bill does not require the BOG and the SBE to report on intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution by conducting a survey. Nor does it modify the state university performance funding metrics. The Senate bill is waiting to be heard in the House.
CS/HB 171 – Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel by Representative Mel Ponder (R – Ft. Walton Beach, FSU Alum)
The bill requires the Articulation Coordinating Committee (ACC) to:
- convene a workgroup to develop a process for determining when courses taken and occupations held by individuals during their service in the military is appropriate for postsecondary credit or career education clock hours;
- provide recommendations to the BOG and the SBE regarding a process for determining postsecondary course equivalencies; and
- approve a list of postsecondary course equivalencies and the minimum credit or career education clock hours that must be awarded for courses taken and occupations held by individuals during their service in the military.
The bill requires the BOG and the SBE to adopt the list approved by the ACC. State universities, Florida College System (FCS) institutions, and career centers must award postsecondary credit or career education clock hours based on the list adopted by the BOG and the SBE, provided the credit is applicable toward the student’s degree or certificate.
The bill authorizes institutions to award additional postsecondary credit or career education clock hours, if appropriate, and guarantees credit and career education clock hours awarded in accordance with minimum credit and clock hour requirements to transfer to other state universities, FCS institutions, and career centers as if the credit or clock hours were earned at the receiving institution.
State universities, FCS institutions, and career centers must waive the transcript fee for active duty members and honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States, and their spouses and dependents.
The bill passed the legislature last week and will go to the Governor for signature. The bill is effective upon becoming law.
HB 737 – Moments of Silence in Public Schools by Representative Kimberly Daniels (D – Jacksonville, FSU Alum)
HB 737 – Moments of Silence in Public Schools by Representative Kimberly Daniels (D – Jacksonville, FSU Alum), requires a moment of silence to be set aside for public school students during each school day. The bill directs the principal of each school to require first-period classroom teachers in all grades to set aside one to two minutes for a moment of silence. The bill prohibits a teacher from making suggestions about the nature of a student’s reflection during the moment of silence. Instead, teachers must encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children and to make suggestions to their children about how they should use this time.
The bill prohibits students from interfering with each other’s participation in the moment of silence.
The bill passed out of the House and is waiting to be heard in the Senate. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 946 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.