March 01, 2021
Volume 28, Number 1
Greetings Seminole Family!
My name is Clay Ingram and I am the new Chief Legislative Affairs Officer at FSU.
My journey here started in 1996 when I came to Florida State with the dream of playing football for Coach Bowden. That dream came true and four years later I had started every game as the deep snapper including the 2000 Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech where we won the National Championship.
When I decided to run for the Florida House of Representatives in 2010, there is no doubt in my mind that the lessons that my teammates and I learned on the field and in the classroom at FSU played a major role in making my run for office a successful one.
When my last term ended in 2018, I was appointed by Governor DeSantis to run Volunteer Florida, the agency that administers the federal AmeriCorps program in Florida, coordinates volunteers and donations after disasters, and administers the Florida Disaster Fund. I’m proud of my time there, especially the part that our agency played in helping the panhandle recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.
I am beyond grateful to President Thrasher for offering me the opportunity to come home to FSU. I couldn’t be more passionate about advocating for this University because so many of my personal and professional successes are rooted here, and it is imperative that we do everything in our power to keep the state of this institution strong to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities for success.
We face an uphill battle this legislative session due to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on Florida’s economy. However, I will work tirelessly toward the best outcome for higher education and for FSU because a strong higher education system is critical for a strong economic recovery in Florida.
I hope the information in this first Legisletter of the 2021 Legislative Session is useful to you and that you will reach out to me or Toni Moore if you need any additional information.
I wish you all the best,
Employee Guidelines for Legislative Session
The 2021 Session of the Florida Legislature begins tomorrow. Please note the following Florida State University policies:
- President John Thrasher, Chief Legislative Affairs Officer Clay Ingram and Director of External Relations at the College of Medicine Laura Brock are the lobbyists for Florida State University.
- No one on campus other than President Thrasher, Mr. Ingram and Dr. Brock are authorized to lobby for Florida State University or the State University System.
However, the Legislature periodically requests faculty and/or staff to attend committee meetings or to formally respond to questions about certain issues. FSU employees asked to appear before committee must notify Clay Ingram, 850-644-1728 and submit a legislative contact form prior to making an appearance.
The form can be found on the Governmental Relations website at https://govrel.fsu.edu/legislative-contact-form. If you have trouble accessing this form please contact Governmental Relations at 644-4453 for a hard copy.
Nothing here is intended to discourage FSU employees from exercising their individual rights as citizens or as members of groups or organizations not affiliated with the University. Such rights include the freedom to express their views on legislation, provided that the views are not presented as those of FSU, the SUS, or a subunit of these.
Governor's Budget Recommendation
The Governor released his $96.6 billion budget recommendations to the legislature last month. Keep in mind these are just budget recommendations and serve as a starting point for the legislature, and only the legislature has the authority to appropriate. Following is a breakdown of his recommendations as they relate to FSU and the university system.
|Student and Other Fees||$229,310,768|
|General Revenue||FSU Lottery|
|FSU College of Medicine, General Revenue||$35,359,083|
|Student and Other Fees||$14,898,434|
|College of Medicine, Lottery||$824,574|
|FAMU-FSU College of Engineering||$14,636,475|
|(includes $6.6 million for Academic & Student Affairs)|
|Performance Based Initiatives||$560,000,000|
Proviso - ... is provided for Preeminent and Emerging Preeminent State Research Universities program. Each designated preeminent state research university shall receive an equal amount of funding. Each designed emerging preeminent state research university shall receive an amount of funding that is equal to one-fourth of the total amount awarded to each designated preeminent state research university...
|World Class Faculty and Scholar Program||$87,844,309|
|State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program||$58,200,000|
|Student Financial Assistance - FSU||$1,467,667|
|Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program||$651,317,460|
|SUS – Fixed Capital Outlay Capital Improvement Projects||$46,000,000|
|Fixed Capital Outlay – Lab Schools||$7,673,357|
Proviso - ...shall be allocated by the Board of Governors to the universities on a pro rata basis in accordance with the Board of Governors Legislative Budget Request for funding from the Capital Improvement Fee Trust Fund as approved September 16, 2020 ...
|Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network||$11,836,500|
|Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources Centers – FSU||$450,000|
|Autism Program – FSU College of Medicine||$1,224,008|
|Communication\Autism Navigator – FSU Vetoed in 2020||$0|
|Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Program||$1,000,000|
|Florida Channel Closed Captioning||$390,862|
|Florida Channel Year Round Coverage||$2,714,588|
|Public Television Stations||$3,844,811|
|($307,447 for each public tv station)|
|Public Radio Stations||$1,300,000|
|($100,000 per station)|
|Satellite Transponder – Florida Channel||$800,000|
Benefits – Governor recommends employee paid Insurance rates continue at the current rate.
FSU Day at the Capitol
Unfortunately, we feel it is necessary to cancel FSU Day at the Capitol and the Seminole Evening Reception this year due to the COVID pandemic. While we will miss seeing all of you at the Capitol, we look forward to coming back stronger than ever next year.
PCS/CS/SB 264 – Higher Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers)
PCS/CS/SB 264 – Higher Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers), adds requirements designed to protect the expression of diverse viewpoints at Florida College System (FCS) institutions and state universities. The bill:
- Requires each FCS institution and state university to annually assess the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution using a survey adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) or the Board of Governors of the State University System (BOG), as applicable.
- Specifies that the SBE, the BOG, FCS institutions, and state universities may not shield students from protected free speech.
- Includes in the definition of protected expressive activities the recording and publishing of video and audio recorded in classrooms, and clarifies that protected expressive activities include the nonconsensual recording and publication of video and audio recorded in outdoor areas of campus and in classrooms.
- The bill was amended to clarify s that the right of a student to record communications in the classroom extends only to recordings made for the personal use of the student.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. A similar bill in the House, HB 233 by Representative Spencer Roach (R – North Ft. Myers), reported favorably by the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee.
PCS/CS/SB 52 – Postsecondary Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers)
PCS/CS/SB 52 – Postsecondary Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R – Ft. Myers), contains provisions to help postsecondary institutions provide certain educational and financial benefits and support to students and employees. Specifically, the bill:
- Clarifies that postsecondary tuition and fee exemptions apply to a student who is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families or a specified relative or nonrelative, or who was at the time he or she reached 18 years of age.
- Establishes the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program to reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related costs for dual enrollment courses taken by certain students, and specifies reporting deadlines.
- Authorizes a university board of trustees, subject to approval by the Board of Governors, to target certain employees for bonuses by implementing a bonus scheme based on awards for work performance or employee recruitment and retention.
For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program is estimated to cost $28.5 million.
The bill reported favorably by the Appropriations subcommittee on Education. A similar bill in the House, HB 281 by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), is waiting to be heard in the Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee.
SB 86 - Student Financial Aid by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake)
SB 86 - Student Financial Aid by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake), requires that eligibility for state financial aid awards and tuition assistance grants be reevaluated each term and identify students’ program of study. Beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, eligibility for such awards and grants is contingent on the student’s enrollment in career certificate or degree program on an approved list. The bill revises the formula for calculating how Florida Public Student Assistance Grant Program funds are distributed. Additionally, the bill authorizes a Bright Futures Scholarship recipient to apply the unused portion of a Florida Academic Scholars award or Florida Medallion Scholars award toward graduate study for a specified academic year. Finally, the bill establishes the Florida Bright Opportunities Grant Program and the Florida Endeavor Scholarship Program. The bill was filed last week.
SB 146 – Civic Education by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg)
SB 146 – Civic Education by Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg), authorizes the development and integration of a nonpartisan civic literacy practicum and the designation of a public school providing high-quality civic learning as a Freedom School. Specifically, the bill requires:
- The Commissioner of Education to develop minimum criteria for a nonpartisan civic literacy practicum that may be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for the high school United States Government course, along with a process for district school boards to verify student completion of the practicum.
- School districts to include and accept nonpartisan civic literacy practicum activities and hours in requirements for academic awards.
- The State Board of Education to annually designate each public school in the state which provides students with high-quality civic learning as a Freedom School, based on specified criteria.
The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee and is waiting to be hard by the Appropriations Committee. The House companion, HB 611 by Representative Ben Diamond (D – St. Petersburg), is waiting to be heard by the Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee.
HB 439 - Prohibited Governmental Transactions with Technology Companies and for Chinese Products by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay)
HB 439 - Prohibited Governmental Transactions with Technology Companies and for Chinese Products by Representative Randy Fine (R – Palm Bay), prohibits an agency or local governmental entity from purchasing any good made, or that contains specified percentage of parts that were produced, in China. The bill prohibits an agency or local governmental entity from purchasing any good or service made, sold, or provided by certain technology companies. Additionally, the bill provides that contract for purchase or provision of goods or services by an agency or local governmental entity must include a provision authorizing termination of such contract in certain circumstances.
The bill is waiting to be heard by the Public Integrity and Elections Committee. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 810 by Senator Joe Gruters (R – Sarasota, FSU Alum) has been referred to the commerce and Tourism, Governmental Oversight and Accountability, Community Affairs, Appropriations, and Rules committees.
SB 1110 - Relations Between Postsecondary Institutions and Communist Regimes by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens)
SB 1110 - Relations Between Postsecondary Institutions and Communist Regimes by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), removes the Florida-China Institute from the list of authorized Florida linkage institutes and prohibits the creation or funding of linkage institutes based on agreements between the Board of Governors or the State Board of Education and a counterpart organization in a country governed by a communist regime. Additionally, the bill requires the Board of Governors and the State Board of Education to withdraw from any such agreements by a January 1, 2022. The bill also prohibits certain postsecondary institutions from entering into specified agreements with a communist regime, or an entity that is organized and exists under the laws of a country governed by a communist regime.
The bill has been referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Appropriations Committee. A similar bill in the House, HB 1047 by Representative Tom Fabricio (R – Hialeah), has been filed.
HB 845 - State University Free Seat Program by Representative David Smith (R – Winter Springs)
HB 845 - State University Free Seat Program by Representative David Smith (R – Winter Springs), creates the State University Free Seat Program. The bill provides an exemption from tuition and fees, including lab fees, for one online course at a state university for certain resident students. The bill prohibits a state university from charging such students more than the specified percentage of tuition rate and tuition differential under certain circumstances, and provides that qualified students are eligible to receive up to 110 percent of the required credit hours of the degree program. The bill is waiting to be heard by the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee. There is no Senate companion at this time.