April 12, 2021
Volume 28, Number 7
Dear Seminole Family,
Thank you for taking a few moments to review this week’s Legisletter as we enter week seven of the 2021 Legislative Session.
Both the House and Senate passed their respective budget proposals last week, putting them in a position to begin the conference process to hammer out their differences and develop a final budget. At this point, the two chambers are approximately $2 billion apart. Both sides reduce funding for the State University System. Additionally, both sides provide funding for the Student Veterans Center. The House provides funding for the Institute on Child Welfare but cuts funding for the Institute of Politics. The Senate reduces funding for the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering and the FSU College of Medicine. We will keep you updated as negotiations should being in the next several days.
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.
Yours in Seminole Spirit,
Spotlight on Bills
CS/HB 1 – Combating Public Disorder by Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R – Miami)
CS/HB 1 – Combating Public Disorder by Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R – Miami), addresses acts of public disorder to define previously undefined offenses of affray, riot, and inciting a riot and create the offenses of aggravated rioting and aggravated inciting a riot. The bill also:
- Requires a person arrested for unlawful assembly, riot, and certain offenses committed in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot, to be held in jail until he or she appears for a first appearance hearing and a court determines bond;
- Creates a budget appeal process to challenge reductions in municipal law enforcement agencies’ budgets similar to that available to a county sheriff;
- Corrects constitutional infirmities in the current prohibition against obstructing a roadway;
- Provides that a municipality is civilly liable for specified damages proximately caused by the municipality’s breach of a duty to allow the municipal law enforcement agency to respond appropriately to protect persons and property during a riot or an unlawful assembly (as specified in the bill);
- Increases penalties for assault and battery, and increases offense severity level rankings for aggravated assault and aggravated battery, when committed in furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot;
- Creates the crime of mob intimidation, which prohibits a mob from using force or the threat of imminent force to compel or induce, or attempt to compel or induce, a person to do or refrain from doing any act or to assume, abandon, or maintain a particular viewpoint against that person’s will;
- Provides for a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for battery on a law enforcement officer if the offense was committed in furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot;
- Increases the offense severity level rankings for assault and battery on a law enforcement officer or other specified official when the offense was committed in furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot;
- Punishes criminal mischief that involves damaging a memorial or historic property if the damage is greater than $200, and requires restitution of the full cost of repair or replacement of the memorial or historic property;
- Creates the crime of destroying or demolishing a memorial or historic property and requires restitution of the full cost of repair or replacement of the memorial or historic property;
- Reclassifies the degree, and increases the offense severity level ranking, of specified burglary and theft offenses committed during a riot or an aggravated riot when facilitated by conditions arising from the riot;
- Creates the crime of cyber-intimidation by publication, which prohibits a person from electronically publishing another person’s personal identification information with the intent to incite violence or commit a crime against the person or threaten or harass the person, placing the other person in reasonable fear of bodily harm;
- Creates an affirmative defense in a civil action for damages for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage that such action arose from injury or damage sustained by a participant acting in furtherance of a riot;
- Increases the offense severity ranking level of offenses involving injuring or removing a tomb or monument; and
- Ranks battery during a riot or an aggravated riot and other offenses in the offense severity level ranking chart of the Criminal Punishment Code.
The bill passed out of the House last week, was heard by Senate Appropriations Committee and is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.
CS/HB 157 – First Aid Training in Public Schools by Representative Fred Hawkins (R – St. Cloud)
CS/HB 157 – First Aid Training in Public Schools by Representative Fred Hawkins (R – St. Cloud), requires school districts to provide basic training in first aid, including one hour of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction, for public school students in grades 9 and 11. Basic CPR instruction for students is currently encouraged but not required by state law.
The bill provides that the CPR training must be based on a nationally recognized program that uses the most current evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines. The instruction must allow students to practice the psychomotor skills associated with performing CPR. If a school district has the necessary equipment, students must also be provided instruction in the use of an automated external defibrillator.
The bill encourages school districts to provide basic first aid training, including CPR instruction, to students in grades 6 and 8.
The bill reported favorably by the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee last week. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 280 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), is scheduled to be heard later this week by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
Update on Bills
CS/HB 1261 – Higher Education by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa)
CS/HB 1261 – Higher Education by Representative Jackie Toledo (R – Tampa), was amended last week by a strike-all amendment that pulls in content from several other bills that we have been watching. Specifically, the bill contains several provisions relating to and impacting higher education, such as COVID-19 liability protection for educational institutions, state university system institution tuition and fee waivers, and tuition assistance program metrics.
The bill provides liability protections for educational institutions for actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and provides that these liability protections apply retroactively to causes of actions accruing on or after March 1, 2020, the date of the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency by the State Surgeon General, and apply prospectively to causes of action that accrue before the end of the academic term during which the emergency declaration expires or is terminated. However, the bill specifies that the liability protections do not apply in a civil action against a particular named defendant which is commenced before the provision’s effective date.
To provide an incentive to students to enroll in, and graduate from, state university baccalaureate degree programs linked to in-demand occupations, the bill 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. A student receiving Bright Futures will receive a disbursement for the tuition and fees waived that is equal to his or her award amount. A Florida Academic Scholar will receive 100 percent of the amount of the tuition and course fees waived. A Florida Medallion Scholar will receive 75 percent. A state university is eligible to earn incentive funding, subject to appropriation, based on the number and value of waivers it grants pursuant to the bill’s provisions. The bill specifies this funding would be in addition to Performance-based Funding Incentive.
To attract talented out-of-state students, the bill 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 bill also provides minimum performance standards for institutions to be eligible to participate in the Effective Access to Student Education tuition assistance program.
The amended bill reported favorably by the Education and Employment Committee last week. The Senate companion, SB 1798 by Senator Keith Perry (R – Gainesville), reported favorably by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Appropriations.
CS/HB 7017 – Foreign Influence by Representative Erin Grall (R – Vero Beach)
CS/HB 7017 – Foreign Influence by Representative Erin Grall (R – Vero Beach), was amended last week by a strike-all amendment. The amended bill requires greater disclosure of foreign support for public entities, scrutiny of grant applicants and vendors of goods and services with certain foreign connections, and 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;
- 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; · Department of Management Services to screen vendors participating in the online procurement system at least once every five years; and
- Universities and colleges, including their direct-support organizations 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 or the Florida Department of Education. The bill also:
- Prohibits agreements between certain state entities and the seven countries of concern if the agreement contains certain provisions or requirements; and
- 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.
The bill reported favorably by the State Affairs Committee. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 2010 by Senator Manny Diaz (R – Hialeah Gardens), is waiting to be heard by the Appropriations Committee.
CS/CS/HB 835—Employee Organizations by Representative Cord Byrd (R – Jacksonville Beach)
CS/CS/HB 835—Employee Organizations by Representative Cord Byrd (R – Jacksonville Beach), prohibits employee organizations representing K-12 instructional personnel from having their union dues and uniform assessments deducted and collected by the district school board. In addition, before an employee organization may collect dues or uniform assessments for the upcoming school year, the employee must sign and submit to the employee organization a form acknowledging that Florida is a right-to-work state and union membership is not required as a condition of employment.
The bill authorizes the commission to conduct investigations to confirm the validity of information submitted pertaining to membership registration renewal requirements. If the employee organization fails to submit any other required information, or intentionally misstates any required information, the employee organization’s certification will be revoked.
The bill requires an employee organization certified as the bargaining agent for a unit of instructional personnel employed by a Florida College System or State University System institution to include certain membership information and verification documentation in its registration renewal application. If an application is incomplete, the commission is required to notify the employee organization. Upon receiving such notice, the employee organization has 10 days to include the missing information, otherwise the application must be dismissed.
The bill authorizes a Florida College System or State University System institution to challenge an employee organization’s registration renewal application under certain conditions. If the commission finds the application to be inaccurate or not in compliance with applicable requirements, the commission must revoke the employee organization’s registration and certification.
If the dues paying membership of an employee organization representing Florida College System or State University System instructional personnel drops to less than 50 percent of the employees eligible to be represented, the bill requires the employee organization to petition the commission for recertification.
The bill reported favorably by the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee last week and is waiting to be heard by the State Affairs Committee. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1014 by Senator Dennis Baxley (R – Lady Lake, FSU Alum), was temporarily postponed by the Rules Committee.
Bills that Passed
CS/CS/HB 233 – Postsecondary Education by Representative Spencer Roach (R – N. Ft. Myers)
CS/CS/HB 233 – Postsecondary Education by Representative Spencer Roach (R – N. Ft. Myers), requires the State Board of Education (SBE) and Board of Governors (BOG) to select or create a survey to be administered by all Florida College System (FCS) institutions and state universities annually. Beginning September 1, 2022, the results of this survey are to be compiled by the SBE and the BOG, respectively, and published each September. Additionally, to encourage intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity, the bill prohibits the SBE, the BOG, FCS institutions, and state universities from shielding students, faculty, or staff from protected free speech.
The bill authorizes the recording, for specified purposes, of video and audio in classrooms at Florida’s public institutions of higher education, while clarifying that the nonconsensual recording of video and audio in classrooms is permissible. Furthermore, faculty research, lectures, writings, and commentary, whether published or unpublished, are protected expressive rights. Any person injured by the unauthorized publishing of video and audio can seek civil remedy including injunctive relief and damages.
Providing further protections for students, the bill requires that state university student government associations provide elected or appointed officers a direct appeal, with no conditions precedent, to a senior university administrator of any discipline, suspension, or removal from office. Furthermore, all FCS institutions and state universities are required to adopt student codes of conduct that meet a set of minimum due process protections including, but not limited to, a presumption of innocence for accused students, a burden of proof that must be carried by the institution, and a right to an impartial hearing officer.
The bill passed out of the Senate last week and will go to the Governor for signature.