March 08, 2021
Volume 28, Number 2
Greetings Seminole Family!
The 2021 Legislative Session kicked off last week with all of the pomp and circumstance that accompanies the opening ceremonies in the House and Senate. Unfortunately, due to COVID 19 protocols, there were far fewer visitors permitted in the Capitol and galleries as the Legislative Session was gaveled in.
Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls and President of the Senate Wilton Simpson further articulated their visions for what they would like to accomplish in their opening day remarks to their respective chambers and Governor Ron DeSantis delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature.
This week brings more work of the committees and subcommittees as bills work their way through the legislative process. Below you will find updates on some of the bills that we are tracking related to the work of the University. Please reach out to me or Toni Moore if you have any questions about these bills or anything related to the legislative process.
It is also more important than ever to register to “Advocate for Florida State” by going to http://www.advocateforfloridastate.fsu.edu and signing up to receive updates and alerts.
I wish you all the best and am grateful for your interest in keeping FSU and the state university system in Florida the best in the country as we continue to educate the next generation of elite students.
I wish you all the best,
Spotlight on Bills
PCB PIE 21-01 – Foreign Influence by Representative Erin Grall (R – Vero Beach)
PCB PIE 21-01 – Foreign Influence by Representative Erin Grall (R – Vero Beach), proposes greater disclosure of foreign support for public entities, scrutiny of grant applicants and purveyors of goods and services with certain foreign connections, thorough scrutiny of foreign applicants for research positions and of foreign travel and activities of employees of major research institutions.
Specifically, the bill requires:
- State agencies and political subdivisions to disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services (DFS);
- Applicants for grants from or those proposing contracts with state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose all foreign financial connections with any of seven countries of concern;
- Universities and colleges, including their Direct Support Organizations (DSOs) and other affiliates, to disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to either the Board of Governors of the State University System (BOG) or the Florida Department of Education.
The bill also:
- Prohibits agreements for or the acceptance of donations conditioned on a program to promote the language and culture of any of seven countries of concern;
- Requires thorough screening of foreign applicants for research positions and foreign travel and activities of employees for every higher education institution and related research institutes having a research budget of $10 million or more.
The bill provides for enforcement of disclosure requirements and operational audits of other requirements.
The bill reported favorably by the Public Integrity and Elections Committee last week. There is no Senate companion at this time.
SB 1261 – Higher Education by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa)
SB 1261 – Higher Education by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa), provides a ‘buy one, get one free’ tuition and fee waiver on upper-level courses in a program of strategic emphasis as identified by the Board of Governors (BOG). In doing so, the bill lowers tuition costs for students and assists the BOG’s efforts to align degree programs to meet the state’s economic and workforce needs.
To be eligible, a student must be an in-state resident, initially enroll full-time at a state university for the Fall academic term immediately following high school graduation, earn at least 60 semester credit hours towards a baccalaureate degree within two years of initial enrollment, and be enrolled in a program of strategic emphasis in one of four categories:
- Science, technology, engineering, or math;
- Critical workforce education;
- Critical workforce healthcare;
- Critical workforce undersupplied.
The tuition and fee waiver is applicable only for upper-level courses and up to 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of the degree program for which the student is enrolled. This means that for a 120-credit hour state university baccalaureate degree program, the tuition and fee waiver is applicable for up to 132 credit hours. The Board of Governors must adopt regulations to administer the granting of the tuition and fee waiver.
A state university that fails to comply with the tuition and fee waiver authorized pursuant to the bill’s provisions is ineligible for performance-based funding.
The bill requires each state university to annually report to the BOG the number and value of tuition and fee waivers granted pursuant to the bill’s provisions.
The bill reported favorably by the Post-Secondary and Lifelong learning Subcommittee last week. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 1798 by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), was filed.
HB 1273 – Out-of-state Fee Waivers for Nonresident Students by Representative Patt Maney (R – Ft. Walton Beach)
HB 1273 – Out-of-state Fee Waivers for Nonresident Students by Representative Patt Maney (R – Ft. Walton Beach), provides an out-of-state fee waiver for top-performing, out-of-state high school graduates who have a grandparent that is a Florida resident. The out-of-state fee waiver is applicable for up to 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of the degree program for which the student is enrolled. Recipients of the waiver are excluded from the State University System’s system-wide limit on out-of-state student enrollment. The bill requires that each state university must annually report to the Board of Governors the number and value of fee waivers granted. Additionally, the bill requires the Board of Governors to adopt regulations to administer the granting of the waiver.
The bill reported favorably by the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee last week. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1728 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), has been filed.
HB 51 – Charter Schools by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville)
HB 51 – Charter Schools by Representative Wyman Duggan (R – Jacksonville), addresses the needs of educational capacity, workforce qualifications, and career education opportunities that may extend beyond a school district’s boundaries, the bill:
- Authorizes state universities and Florida College System (FCS) institutions to solicit applications and sponsor charter schools upon approval by the Department of Education (DOE). Current law authorizes a state university to only sponsor a charter lab school and FCS institutions may only sponsor a charter technical career center. State university and FCS institutions are not required to accept any application they receive, accepting applications is at the institution’s discretion.
- Provides that a state university sponsored charter school may serve students from multiple school districts to meet regional education or workforce demands and a FCS sponsored charter school may serve students from any county within the colleges’ service area to meet workforce demands.
- Authorizes a FCS institution that operates an approved teacher preparation program to operate additional charter schools.
- Provides that the board of trustees of a sponsoring state university or FCS institution charter school is a local educational agency for the purpose of receiving federal funds and accepting responsibility for all requirements in that role.
- Provides that students attending a state university or FCS institution sponsored charter school are not included in the school district’s grade calculation.
- Establishes operational funding and capital outlay funding formulas for charter schools sponsored by a state university or FCS institution.
- Provides accountability for all charter school operators by requiring the DOE, in collaboration with charter school sponsors and operators, to develop a sponsor evaluation framework and report results in its annual charter school application report.
- Revises charter school application reporting requirements and submission dates for both sponsors and the DOE.
- Authorizes charter schools to provide career and professional academies and revises charter school enrollment limitations.
The bill reported favorably by the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee last week. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 1028 by Senator Travis Hutson (R -Palm Coast), was referred to the Education Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Appropriations Committee.
SB 2012 – Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland)
SB 2012 – Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity by Senator Kelli Stargel (R – Lakeland), creates the Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity Act, requiring that certain athletic teams and sports sponsored by educational institutions be designated on the basis of students’ biological sex. The bill prohibits athletic teams or sports designed for female students from being open to male students. The bill specifies conditions under which persons who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category. Additionally, the bill requires that a student that fails to comply with certain conditions to be suspended from female competition for 12 months.
The bill was filed last week. The House companion, HB 1475 by Representative Kaylee Tuck (R – Sebring, FSU Alum) has been filed.
HB 5 – Civic Education Curriculum by Representative Ardian Zika (R – Land O’ Lakes), revises the social studies credit requirement for high school graduation. The bill requires that the United States Government course include a comparative discussion of political ideologies that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy in the nation’s founding principles.
To help students understand their roles, rights, and responsibilities as residents of the state, the bill requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to develop or approve an integrated civic education curriculum for public school students in kindergarten through grade 12. The bill provides requirements for the civic education curriculum to aid in students’ development of civic responsibility and knowledge. As part of the curriculum requirements, the State Board of Education is required to develop civic-minded expectations for an upright citizenry.
The bill also requires the DOE to curate oral history resources for use alongside the civic education curriculum. Designated the “Portraits in Patriotism Act,” the bill provides that these resources are based on diverse individuals’ personal stories that illustrate civic-minded qualities.
The bill reported favorably by the Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 1450 by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R – Doral) has been referred to the Education Committee, The Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Appropriations Committee.
CS/SB 934 – Education by Senator Tom Wright (R – Port Orange)
CS/SB 934 – Education by Senator Tom Wright (R – Port Orange), modifies provisions related to educator certification and non-degreed career teacher qualifications, teacher preparation programs and educator preparation institutes (EPIs), and school leadership. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the uniform core curricula for state-approved teacher preparation programs and EPI competency-based program requirements.
- Removes the General Knowledge Test as an admission requirement to a teacher preparation program.
- Provides that completion of an EPI may demonstrate education and successful occupational experience for non-degreed teachers of career education, and also professional preparation and education competence toward an educator certificate.
- Specifies that a master’s degree or higher degree may demonstrate mastery of general knowledge toward an educator certificate.
- Authorizes an organization of private schools or a consortium of charter schools as specified to design alternative preparation programs for certified teachers to add on additional coverages to their certificate.
- Modifies the William Cecil Golden Professional Development Program for School Leaders to expand the definition of an educational leader and expand the collaborative network.
The bill reported favorably by the Education Committee. A similar bill in the House, HB 1159 by Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera (R – Miami, FSU Alum), is waiting to be heard by the Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee.
Update on Bills
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’ to lower tuition costs and encourage nontraditional students, veterans, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and active drilling members of the Florida National Guard, to enroll in and attend one of Florida’s state universities.
The bill was amended last week by the Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee to:
- Expand eligibility for the State University Free Seat Program to include veterans, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and active drilling members of the Florida National Guard;
- Clarify that the tuition waiver and discount are only applicable for online baccalaureate degree program courses.
The bill will now go to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee for hearing. The identical bill in the Senate, SB 1672 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), has been filed.