The Legislature will hold a sixth, and final, round of Interim Committee Meetings this week. Please click on the link below for a preview of the bills and issues will be under consideration. Also, last week the Constitution Revision Commission Committees considered several education related proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. Please click on the link below for our report on the outcome of those CRC Committee meetings.
This is the last week of Interim Committee Meetings that will take place prior to the start of the 2018 Legislative Session on January 9, 2017.
- On Monday, the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response & Preparedness will be meeting on Monday to begin finalizing their policy recommendations, including several that relate to school districts. The Meeting Packet lists potential recommendations by topic. The Senate Education Committee will consider bills relating to human trafficking education, school visits by legislators, and will receive an presentation on education accountability.
- On Tuesday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee will consider a bill on impact fees and the House Ways & Means Committee will consider a bill on local tax referenda.
- On Wednesday, the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee will have presentations and panel discussion of scholarship programs and the Senate Appropriations Committee bill consider a bill on graduation requirements and financial literacy.
- On Thursday, the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee will consider legislation creating a procurement task force.
- Throughout the week, several committees/subcommittees will receive presentations on the Governor’s Budget Recommendations for 2018-2019.
You may access the our full schedule of education related meetings, bills, and presentations HERE. Please remember that you may view the live webcast of any of these meetings at www.thefloridachannel.org. Also, we have updated and hyperlinked our Bill Tracking List to include bills filed through December 2, 2017.
The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) has proposed a total 103 constitutional amendments — 35 of these are of direct or tangential interest to school board members. FSBA staff has posted a CHART on the FSBA website that provides details and links on these 35 proposals. CRC committees held a round of meetings November 27-30, 2017 at which several of the 35 education-related proposals were considered.
The CRC Education Committee met on Monday, November 27, 2017. In addition to receiving presentations on Civic Literacy, Aid to Sectarian Institutions, and Class Size Requirements, the Committee considered three specific proposals that are sponsored by Commissioner Erika Donalds — a Collier County School Board member — that are of particular interest:
Proposal 32 — This proposal revises Article IX, Sections 2, 4, and 7 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would require that members of the state board of education, members of district school boards, members of state university boards of trustees, and members of the board of governors would serve without compensation. The proposal allows for members of these boards to be reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses in accordance with state law. Testimony from the public and comments from the Committee members highlighted several concerns about this proposal, including:
- The potential negative implications of the proposal are compounded when viewed in the context of the related proposals imposing school board member term limits and requiring that all superintendents are appointed by the school board.
- The proposal would jeopardize the ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity of school boards by creating an elected office that could be held only by those who can afford to work for free.
- The fiscal responsibilities, liability, and the broad scope of work of Florida school board members, particularly in comparison to school board members in other states, makes the position much more than a part-time job that should or could be handled by unpaid volunteers.
After it became apparent that this proposal would not pass the Committee, Commissioner Donalds moved for the proposal to be temporarily postponed. This avoided having the proposal being reported unfavorably by the Education Committee and left open the possibility that the proposal may be considered at some later date and/or in some other format. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the proposal can move forward to the next, and last, committee of reference – the Local Government Committee. We have prepared a FSBA Background and Key Concepts on this proposal that is available on the FSBA website on the Education Legal News page.
Proposal 33 – The proposal amends Article IX, Section 5 and creates a new section of Article XII of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would remove references to the election of a district school superintendent and would require that each district school superintendent is appointed by the district school board. The Proposal passed the Committee on a vote of 6-2. The next, and last, committee of reference is the Local Government Committee.
Proposal 43 — The proposal amends Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would limit school board members to two consecutive four year terms in office. After serving two terms for a total of eight years, the school board member would be ineligible to run for another consecutive term. As originally proposed, all current service on the school board would count toward that school board member’s 8-year term limit. However, the proposal was amended to provide that the 8-year term limit would commence with a board member’s last election, making the proposal partially retroactive. Even so, this is not consistent with the term limits imposed on state legislators that were designed to be entirely prospective by providing that no service in a term of office which commenced prior to the 1992 effective date would be counted against the term limit. Questions arose about the extent to which the proposal, as amended, would be retroactive and it was suggested that the proposal should include an effective date for clarification. Ms. Donalds offered assurance that these issues would be reviewed when the Proposal is considered in the next, and last, committee of reference – the Local Government Committee — which she chairs. The Proposal passed the Committee on a vote of 8-0. We have prepared a FSBA Background and Key Concepts on this proposal that is available on the FSBA website on the Education Legal News page.
FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina was in attendance at the meeting and offered excellent testimony on proposals 32 and 43. She provided information and answered questions from the Committee members that the sponsor, Ms. Donalds, was unable to provide or answer. The full Education Committee meeting packet is available HERE. In addition, a video of this meeting is available in the Video Library of The Florida Channel. Part I of the Video contains the presentations on Civic Literacy, Aid to Sectarian Institutions, and Class Size Requirements; Part II contains the discussion and testimony on the three proposals described above.
The CRC Declaration of Rights Committee met on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. In addition to other items, the Committee received a very comprehensive presentation on the history and application of the “No Aid” provision in Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution and then considered Proposal 4 sponsored by Commissioner Roberto Martinez that relates to religious freedom and the “No Aid” provision.
Proposal 4 – This proposal amends Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would repeal the prohibition on the use of public revenue in aid of religious entities. This prohibition is commonly known as the “No Aid” provision (or “Blaine Amendment”) and similar provisions are included in the state constitutions in 37 states, including Florida. Proposal 4 would delete Florida’s “No Aid” provision which states: “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”
The public commentary and committee discussion of the Proposal highlighted the fact that courts throughout the country, including courts in Florida, have struck down school choice/voucher programs based on the “No Aid” provision in state constitutions. However, it is important to note that the application of the “No Aid” provision is not limited to education issues. When challenged, courts have upheld the application of state “No Aid” provisions with one very narrow exception. Committee members and others expressed concerns about other state services that may be at risk for challenge under Florida’s “No Aid” provision, the difficulty in defining and differentiating among religious entities, and the generally controversial nature of the Proposal. The Proposal passed the Committee with a vote of 5-1. The next, and last, committee of reference is the CRC Education Committee. The full Declaration of Rights Committee meeting packet is available HERE. In addition, a video of this meeting is available in the Video Library of The Florida Channel and may be accessed HERE.
In another meetings of interest, the CRC General Provisions Committee approved Proposals 29, 37, and 57.
Proposal 29 – by Commissioner Newsome creates an new Section in Article X that establishes requirements for all employers who hold, or have applied for, any type of license to operate a business in the State of Florida to verify the employment eligibility of new employees using the E-Verify system, beginning on July 1, 2020. “License” is defined as an agency permit, certificate, approval, registration, charter, or similar form of authorization that is required by law and that is issued by any agency or political subdivision of this state for the purpose of operating a business in this state. Approved by a vote of 6-0. The next, and last, committee of reference is the CRC Executive Committee.
Proposal 37 – by Commissioner Stemberger creates a new Section of Article X that prohibits state or local governments from naming government buildings, facilities, land or a government administered program after an elected state or local official, until after that official has vacated office. The proposal also requires that any law or ordinance which names a building, facility, land or program after a state or local elected official not contain provisions on any other subject. Approved by a vote of 5-1. The next, and last, committee of reference is the CRC Local Government Committee.
Proposal 57 – by Commissioner Kruppenbacher creates a new Section in Article X to create additional survivor benefits for an individual working for the State of Florida or a political subdivision who is killed in the line of duty and employed as a first responder, an active duty member of the United States Armed Services, or a public school employee. These survivor benefit payments are in addition to any workers’ compensation or pension benefit payments owed to the individual and are exempt from attachment or garnishment. The surviving spouse or child can benefit from a state waiver of educational expenses for full-time or part-time attendance at a state career center, a Florida College System institution or a state university. The waiver is for up to 120 credit hours equal to the cost of tuition, matriculation, and registration fees while obtaining a career certificate, an undergraduate degree or a post-graduate degree. The education waiver is available for the surviving child until his or her 25th birthday or to the surviving spouse for up to five years and is available until the tenth anniversary after the individual’s death. Approved by a vote of 5-1. The next, and last, committee of reference is the CRC Finance and Taxation Committee.
The next round of CRC Committee meetings is scheduled for December 11-15, 2017. For more information about the CRC, please visit the Education Legal News page in our Resource Room.