- Today marked the last day of regularly scheduled committee meetings during this Session. Although committee meetings may still be called, if needed, the bulk of each of the remaining days of the Session will be devoted to floor sessions where bills will be heard on 2nd and 3rd Reading and will be swapped in Messages between the two chambers (if you are not sure what’s meant by 2nd Reading, 3rd Reading, or messages, please see the Glossary of Legislative Terms and/or Understanding the Legislative Process in our Legislative Advocacy Toolkit). As we have mentioned, things happen very quickly, and often with little advance notice, during these final days of the Session making it difficult for us to provide a comprehensive list of bills that may be considered or meeting that may be called. We will continue to do our best to provide this information, but encourage you to watch our Twitter feed for up to the minute notices.
In important budget news today, the chambers announced that they had reached agreement of allocations to be appropriated in each major funding area in the state budget which sets the stage for the budget conference to begin. The full Budget Conference Committee held an organizational meeting this evening at which House Appropriations Committee Chair Trujillo was named chair of the Conference and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Bradley was named vice chair. It was announced that each of the area Conference Committees would have until 10:30 am on Friday, March 2, to resolve differences in their budget area. At that time, any unresolved issues will be bumped up to the Chair Trujillo and Vice Chair Bradley for resolution. Any items that remain unresolved by 10:30 am on Sunday, March 4 will be bumped up to House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron for resolution. The membership of each of the Conference Committees was also announced. The Budget Conference Committee for PreK-12 Education includes Representatives Diaz (Chair), Antone, Brown, Donalds, Fischer, Hardemon, Latvala, Lee, Massullo, McClain, Newton, Olszewski, Payne, Raburn, and Russell and Senators Passidomo (Vice Chair), Broxson, Farmer, Grimsley, Lee, Montford, Rouson, Steube, and Young. If your Senator or Representative is on this list, please contact them as soon as possible to thank them for their service on the Conference Committee and express any suggestions and concerns you may have on the budget. Contact information is available on this CHART. In addition, this chart and other education budget information is available on our 2018 Legislative Session page.
Today’s committee meeting agendas were packed with important education related bills including, most notably, both the House and Senate Public Safety bills and HB 7055. We are in the process of updating our detailed summaries and comparisons of each of these bills and will post them as soon as possible. In the meantime, please click on the first link below for our report on the outcome of consideration of these bills and others. Also, as mentioned above, tomorrow both chambers will be in floor sessions. It is also likely that budget conference committees will be meeting, but no schedule for these meetings has been published as of this writing. Please click on the second link below for a preview of the bills of interest that will be considered tomorrow in the House and Senate floor sessions.
In the House Appropriations Committee meeting:
APC 6 – Public Safety by Appropriations – AMENDED; SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL; FILED AS HB 7101
To increase communication between various entities that interact with schools and students, better identify students in need of mental health treatment and increase access to such treatment, and to help prevent mass violence incidents in the future, the bill:
- Creates the School Safety Awareness Program within the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to receive early, anonymous, information about suspicious or concerning behavior;
- Allows Crime Stoppers Funds to be used for anonymous reporting systems in student crime watch programs;
- Establishes the Office of Safe Schools to serve as a central repository for best practices, examine the effectiveness of recommendations produced using the current self-assessment tool and develop a School Safety Specialist Training Program. Each district school safety specialist must provide school safety training, conduct active shooter drills at least as often as other drills, and annually conduct a security risk self-assessment;
- Establishes a threat assessment team at each school consisting of a counselor, teacher, administrator, and school resource officer to determine when a student poses a threat of violence to themselves or others and engage behavioral health crisis resources if necessary;
- Requires school boards to partner with local law enforcement to address school security needs and increase law enforcement presence, and requires each school district to coordinate with public safety agencies to develop emergency procedures and designate a school safety specialist who must coordinate with local public safety agencies;
- Requires revisions to zero tolerance policies to authorize threat assessment teams to address disruptive behavior through alternatives to expulsion or referral to law enforcement and requiring a team to consult with law enforcement in certain circumstances;
- Doubles the number of school resource officers, funds them, and requires crisis intervention training for all officers;
- Requires sheriffs and police chiefs in certain circumstances, to appoint law enforcement-trained persons who meet specific requirements exceeding those of similar programs nationally, to serve as school marshals;
- Requires all school personnel to receive, and funds, youth mental health first aid training;
- Funds additional mobile crisis teams and community action teams to create statewide access;
- Creates a categorical allocation and provides funding for mental health treatment in schools;
- Requires state and local agencies serving students with or at risk of mental illness to coordinate efforts, allows sharing of confidential information, and requires a court to notify a school district when referring a student to mental health services; and
- Creates the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate failures that allowed mass incidents of violence in Florida and make recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future.
In addition, the bill:
- Prohibits a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer from selling a firearm to a person under age 21, with exceptions;
- Expands the mandatory 3-day waiting period for handguns to all firearms sold at retail with certain exceptions;
- Prohibits a person from transferring, distributing, selling, or keeping for sale, offering for sale, possessing, or giving to another person a bump-fire stock and prohibits importing a bump-fire stock into the state;
- Authorizes a law enforcement agency to seize any firearm and ammunition owned by a person involuntarily examined under the Baker Act who has made a credible threat of violence against another person. Provides for the retention of the firearm and ammunition for an additional 60 days if certain criteria are met.
The bill appropriates a total of $400 million and provides appropriations to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Education, and the Department of Children and Families, for multiple purposes. [NOTE: The Committee approved several amendments, most of which apply to firearms and weapons. Of particular interest to school districts, one amendment relates to the School Marshal programs to require, rather than authorize, sheriffs to implement a school marshal program, a municipal law enforcement agency to implement such a program if the sheriff refuses to do so, and make conforming changes to the school marshal program that a school board may implement. The school district retains the authority to implement, or not to implement, the School Marshal program. This was the only committee of reference for this bill. The bill has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18. The Senate companion bill — SB 7026 – is comparable and has been placed on the Senate Calendar.]
APC 7 – Public Records & Public Meetings by Appropriations – SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL; FILED AS HB 7103
The bill creates public record and public meeting exemptions relating to issues of school safety. Specifically, the bill creates the following exemptions:
- A public meeting exemption for any portion of a meeting of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission when confidential or exempt information is discussed.
- A public record exemption for the identity of an individual who reports information using the mobile suspicious activity reporting tool concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent, or criminal activities, or the threat of these activities, when such information is held by a the Department of Law Enforcement, a law enforcement agency, or school officials.
- A public record exemption for any information held by a law enforcement agency, school district, or charter school that would identity whether a particular individual has been appointed as a school marshal.
[NOTE: This was the only committee of reference for this bill. The bill has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18. There is no direct Senate companion bill but similar provisions are included in SB 7026.]
APC 8 – Public Records / Victims of Mass Violence – AMENDED; SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL; FILED AS HB 7105
The bill creates a public record exemption for the address of a victim of an incident of mass violence. The bill defines the term “incident of mass violence” to mean an incident in which four or more people, not including the perpetrator, are severely injured or killed by an intentional and indiscriminate act of violence of another. The bill defines the term “victim” to mean a person killed or injured during an incident of mass violence, not including the perpetrator. The bill also amends the definition of “criminal intelligence information” and “criminal investigative information” to include the address of a victim of mass violence. [NOTE: Today’s amendment clarified the definition of “incident of mass violence” as reflected in the short summary above. This was the only committee of reference for this bill. The bill has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18. The Senate companion bill — SB 7024 – is comparable and has been placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar for 3/1/18.]
In the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting:
SB 7026 – School Safety by Rules – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS; PLACED ON SENATE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 3/1/18
The bill provides law enforcement, the courts, and schools with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence. The bill also promotes school safety and enhanced coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local level. Specifically, the bill:
- Creates the Medical Reimbursement Program for Victims of Mass Shootings to reimburse trauma centers from the medical costs of treating victims for injuries associated with a mass shooting.
- Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition from the person for at least 72 hours or until the person appears at the agency to retrieve the firearm or ammunition.
- Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
- Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns or until the background check is complete, whichever is later.
- Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm.
- Prohibits a licensed firearm dealers, importers, and manufacturers, excluding a member of the military, or a law enforcement or correctional officer.
- Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, transported, sold, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or given away within the state.
- Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms when a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior.
- Provides a court can issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months.
- Allows a court to issue temporary ex parte risk protection order in certain circumstances.
- Requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order or ex parte risk protection order is issued.
- Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended.
- Establishes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements.
- Codifies the Office of Safe Schools (office) within the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and specifies the purpose of the office is to serve as the state education agency’s primary coordinating division for promoting and supporting safe-learning environments.
- Creates the Florida Sheriff’s Marshal Program within the DOE as a voluntary program to assist school districts and public schools in enhancing the safety and security of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to Florida’s public schools and campuses.
- Establishes the Public School Emergency Response Learning System Program to assist school personnel in preparing for and responding to active emergency situations and to implement local notification systems for all Florida public schools.
- Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility, and:
- Requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
- Requires each school district to designate a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.
- Codifies the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SEDNET) as a function of the DOE in partnership with other state, regional, and local entities to facilitate collaboration and communication between the specified entities.
- Requires the FDLE to procure a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool that allows students and the community to report information anonymously about specified activities or the threat of such activities to appropriate public safety agencies and school officials.
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation to provide supplemental funding to assist school districts and charter schools in establishing or expanding comprehensive mental health programs and to connect students and families with appropriate services.
- Clarifies the applicability of public records exemptions for security systems and plans.
The bill appropriates a total of $400 million and provides appropriations to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Education, and the Department of Children and Families, for multiple purposes. [NOTE: Today’s amendments (1) revise provisions relating to the confidentiality of materials reviewed by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission; (2) revise provisions for the seizure, voluntary surrender, storage, and return of firearms and ammunition of a person taken into custody as a function of being a threat to him/herself or others; (3) require the Department of Law Enforcement, in collaboration with the Department of Legal Affairs, to procure a mobile suspicious activity tool and provide other services and support for the School Safety Awareness Program; and (4) provide appropriations. This was the second of two committee of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 7101 – is comparable and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18.]
SB 7024 – Public Records / Victim of a Crime of Mass Violence by Rules – PASSED; PLACED ON SENATE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 3/1/18
The bill creates a new public records exemption for the address of a victim of an incident of mass violence. Specifically, the bill makes exempt from public records disclosure the address of a victim of an incident of mass violence, defined as an incident in which three or more people other than the perpetrator, are severely injured or killed by an intentional act of violence. A victim is considered to be a person killed or injured during an incident of mass violence. [NOTE: This was the second of two committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 7105 – is comparable and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18.]
HB 7055 – Education by Education – AMENDED; PASSED
The Senate Education Committee approved an amendment to the House version of HB 7055 on 2/20/18. The Senate amendment deletes certain provisions from HB 7055 and:
- Modifies the Hope Scholarship Program to provide the parent of a public school student who was the victim of a substantiated incident of violence or abuse an opportunity to transfer the student to another public school that has capacity or to request and receive from the state a scholarship for the student to attend an eligible private school.
- Modifies the accountability provisions for private schools that participate in state school choice scholarship programs and applies such provisions consistently to the participating schools.
- Adds the following provisions related to K-12 education enhancements:
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide funds for school-based mental health programs and establishes related requirements.
- Establishes the hope supplemental services allocation within the FEFP to provide schools implementing a district-managed turnaround plan or a turnaround option specified in law with funds to offer services designed to improve the overall academic and community welfare of the schools’ students and their families.
- Establishes the funding compression allocation within the FEFP to provide additional funding to school districts and developmental research schools whose total funds per FTE in the prior year were less than the statewide average.
- Strengthens school improvement and accountability measures in the following ways:
- Provides that a school must complete two years of a district-managed turnaround plan before the school is designated as persistently low-performing and required to implement a turnaround option.
- Expands the turnaround options available to a school district for a persistently low performing school to include a franchise model school that is led by a specified highly effective principal.
- Revises the school of hope provisions to require a hope operator to submit a notice of intent containing an operations plan specifying the hope operator’s intent to undertake the operations of the persistently low-performing school and incentivizes a hope operator to establish a school of hope at the district-owned facilities of the persistently low-performing school.
- Modifies the eligibility requirements and calculation methodology for specified charter school capital outlay provisions and revises the amount of discretionary millage that a school district may expend for specified purposes.
- Renames the Collegiate High School Program as the Structured High School Acceleration Program and creates a bonus funding mechanism to incentivize school district interest in expanding programs.
- Clarifies that school districts may construct or renovate facilities without a survey recommendation when using funds from specified local revenue sources.
- Adds the following provisions related to instruction in public schools:
- Establishes a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy, and specifies financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering grade 9 in the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter.
- Requires each school district to provide students instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator.
- Adds a provision to authorize an individual member of the State Legislature to visit any district school, including any charter school, in his or her legislative district, on any day and at any time at his or her pleasure.
- Adds a provision to modify the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program to deem a school district employee who, in the prior school year, was rated highly effective and met the eligibility requirements of the scholarship as a classroom teacher, as eligible to receive a scholarship award during the current school year if he or she maintains employment with the school district.
- Adds a provision to authorize an early learning coalition to refuse to contract with a private provider of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program if the provider has been cited for a class I violation.
- Adds a provision to revise the definition of a rare disease for the purposes of the Gardiner Scholarship Program and conforms the definition of a rare disease to the definition provided by the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, Pub. L. No. 97-414.
- Modifies school safety requirements in the following ways:
- Requires a school district to formulate and prescribe policies and procedures for emergency drills for hostage and active shooter situations and establish model emergency management and emergency preparedness procedures for active shooter situations. The amendment specifies that active shooter situation training must be conducted by the law enforcement agency or agencies that are designated as the first responders to the school’s campus.
- Requires each school district to conduct security risk assessments at each public school and conduct a self-assessment of the school districts’ current safety and security practices using a format prescribed by the Department of Education (DOE) and develop a plan that includes having a secure, single point of entry onto school grounds, using a format prescribed by the DOE.
- Requires a district school board or a private school principal or governing board to allow the law enforcement agency or agencies that are designated as first responders to the school’s or districts’ campus tour such campuses once every 3 years and to document any recommended changes to school safety and emergency issues by the law enforcement agency based on a campus tour.
- Requires a district school board to establish a school resource officer program.
- Modifies appropriations, for the 2018-2019 fiscal year:
- The sum of $2,596,560 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for the following purposes:
- $2 million to implement the Hope Scholarship Program.
- $596,560 to implement additional state scholarship oversight requirements.
- The sum of $392,134 in nonrecurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for the following purposes:
- $142,134 to implement additional state scholarship oversight requirements.
- $250,000 to award a competitive grant to study student performance in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program as required in law.
- The sum of $2,596,560 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for the following purposes:
[NOTE: Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted several revisions to the amendment adopted last week by the Senate Education Committee (outlined above). Today’s amendments insert or amend several provisions to align with the House version of HB 7055. We are still sorting through today’s amendments and will prepare a revised summary of the Senate version of this bill as soon as possible. In the meantime, today’s amendments include: (1) a new provision directing school boards to adopt rules requiring the display the state motto – In God We Trust – in all schools in the district; (2) revisions relating to charter schools including provisions to delay opening for 3 years, extend the term of the initial charter to 5 years, to require clear and convincing evidence to terminate a charter school, to require termination hearings before a DOAH judge, and to require school districts to pay the cost of background/fingerprint checks if results are not returned within 14 days; (3) provisions to require professional development resources to include sample course-at-a-glance and unit overview templates; (4) provisions requiring teacher labor organizations to petition for recertification as the bargaining agent under certain circumstances; (5) revisions relating to the Florida Virtual School and home education students; and (6) adding provisions creating Reading Scholarship Accounts. This was the second of two Senate committees of reference for this House bill. As of this writing, it is unclear whether this bill will now be considered on the Senate floor or if it will be assigned to the PreK-12 Education Budget Conference Committee.]
SB 1804 – School District Accountability by Stargel – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill increases fiscal accountability and expands fiscal transparency requirements for district school boards. Specifically, the bill increases fiscal accountability requirements by:
- Adding to the scope of the Auditor General’s (AG’s) duties, the requirement to contact each district school board with findings and recommendations contained within the AG’s previous operational audit report; and specifying compliance requirements for the district school boards.
- Requiring the Department of Education’s (DOE’s) Inspector General to investigate allegations and reports of possible fraud or abuse against a district school board made by specified entities.
- Requiring school districts receiving annual federal, state, and local funds in excess of $500 million to employ an internal auditor.
The bill expands fiscal transparency by:
- Requiring district school boards to provide a full explanation of any budget amendments at the boards’ next scheduled public meeting.
- Modifying the information that each district school board must post on its website to add graphical representations, for each public school within the district and for the school district, of summary financial efficiency data and 3-year fiscal trend information.
- Specifying additional information that each school district must report to the DOE including the total operating costs and expenditures for classroom instruction.
- Requiring the DOE to calculate specified expenditure information for each public school, school district, and the state; and develop a web-based fiscal transparency tool that identifies public schools and districts that produce high academic achievement based on the ratio of classroom instruction expenditures to total expenditures.
- Requiring the DOE to contract with an independent third party to conduct an investigation of all accounts and records when the conditions of a financial emergency exist.
- Requiring the withholding of each district school board member’s and district school superintendent’s salary, with some exceptions, if any of the conditions of a financial emergency exist, until such conditions are corrected.
- Requires prior approval by the district school board for reimbursement of out-of-district travel expenses that exceed $500, and requires a detailed itemized list of all anticipated travel expenses for any travel outside the state.
In addition, the bill:
- Aligns school board member salaries with the beginning teacher salaries or the amount calculated by statute, whichever is less.
- Applies the restriction on lobbying for 2 years after vacating office to appointed school district superintendents, which currently applies to locally elected school district officers.
- Prohibits a district superintendent from appointing or employing a relative to work under his or her direct supervision.
- Appropriates $850,000 to the DOE to implement this act.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was technical in nature. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1279 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has passed the House.]
SB 310 – Threats to Kill or do Bodily Injury by Steube – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill replaces the current statutory requirement that prohibits any person who writes or composes and sends a letter, inscribed communication, or electronic communication with a threat to kill or do bodily injury to a person or any member of the person’s family, with language that prohibits a person from making a threat to kill or do great bodily injury in writing or other record, including an electronic record, and posting or transmitting the threat in a manner that would allow another person to view it. In addition, the offense is decreased from a second degree felony to a third degree felony. The bill also changes the offense from a Level 6 to a Level 4 in the Criminal Punishment Code Offense Severity Ranking Chart, which decreases the offense’s sentencing points from 36 points to 22 points. [NOTE: Today’s amendment provides an exemption from liability for certain electronic service providers. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 165 — is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar for 3/2/18.]
In the House Education Committee meeting:
HB 1213 – Computer Science Instruction by Porter – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
To increase opportunities for students to participate in computer science instruction, the bill:
- Defines computer science and includes computer coding and programming in the definition;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to identify computer science courses in the Course Code Directory and on its website by July 1, 2018;
- Requires Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to offer computer science courses so students enrolled in a school without a computer science course can receive computer science instruction;
- Requires school districts to offer students access to computer science courses through FLVS or by other means;
- Establishes a grant program to help teachers earn a computer science educator certificate or industry certification and for paying associated examination fees;
- Establishes a bonus program to award qualifying teachers, on a yearly basis for up to 3 years, who teach computer science courses identified by the DOE; and
- Provides that funding for the teacher training grant program and teacher bonus program are subject to an appropriation.
- Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to implement these provisions.
[NOTE: This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1056 — is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 495 – School District Price Level Index by Diaz – AMENDED; PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 3/2/18
The bill amends several provisions relating to the operation and funding of public schools. Specifically, the bill:
- Provides the same carry forward authority for undisbursed Schools of Hope Program funds as currently provided for revolving loan funds.
- Revises how school districts must spend Supplemental Academic Instruction (SAI) allocation funds.
- Expands the Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative to a statewide program and authorizes highly effective trained principals to manage multiple district schools.
- Revises requirements for the disbursement of Title I funds by school districts.
- Expands the available exceptions a district school board may adopt to include any other provisions in SREF that limit the ability of a school to operate in a facility on the same basis as a charter school.
- Requires the Florida Department of Education to issue a competitive solicitation to contract with an independent, third-party consulting firm to conduct a review of the current price level index methodology by July 1, 2018, and every 10 years thereafter.
The bill amends several provisions relating to charter schools as follows:
- Provides charter schools with access to surplus property on the same basis as public schools.
- Requires school districts to provide background screening results for charter school employees within 14 days.
- Revises eligibility requirements for high performing charter schools and allows replication of up to two schools.
- Clarifies provisions relating to charter school consolidations.
- Revises requirements for sharing discretionary capital outlay millage revenues with charter schools.
- Prohibits a school district from withholding charter school administrative fees if specified aggregate lease-purchase agreement payments exceed three-fourths of the discretionary millage proceeds.
The bill also requires each school district, by the start of the 2018-2019 school year, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the collective bargaining unit for instructional personnel that addresses the selection, placement, and expectations of instructional personnel and provides principals with autonomy over certain personnel and budgetary decisions. [NOTE: The Committee took up and passed a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) that substantially added to the provisions of the bill. In addition to the original provision to conduct a study of the Florida Price Level Index, the bill now also includes provisions relating to charter schools, the Principal Autonomy Program, SREF flexibility, and other topics that are also included in other bills. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 824 — is comparable and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
In the House Judiciary Committee meeting:
HB 1391 – Sexual Offenses Against Students by Rodrigues – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS; PLACED ON HOUSE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 3/2/18
The bill further enhances student safety and increases accountability for school officials and employees by:
- Disqualifying a person from educator certification or employment in a position with a public school or certain private schools that involves direct contact with students if the person has a conviction for an offense against a student;
- Providing that a conviction for an offense against a student disqualifies a person from educator certification or employment in a position with a public school or certain private schools that involves direct contact with students;
- Providing that an employee’s resignation or termination of employment does not affect a school district’s responsibility to investigate complaints of misconduct;
- Requiring a school district, and an investigator hired or contracted to investigate alleged employee misconduct, to report legally sufficient complaints to the Department of Education (DOE) within 30 days;
- Requiring district school board policies to include mandatory reporting of alleged misconduct that involves engaging in sexual or lewd conduct with a student or soliciting such conduct and to require district school superintendents to report to law enforcement misconduct by school district personnel that would result in disqualification from certification or employment;
- Expanding the reasons a district school board member’s or superintendent’s salary may be forfeited for 1 year;
- Requiring a district school superintendent to notify, in writing, the parent of a student affected by certain misconduct and requiring the notification to include certain information;
- Expanding the authority of the DOE to deny certification based upon the Education Practices Commission’s (EPC) authority to issue disciplinary action against a certified educator;
- Authorizing the EPC to impose conditions upon the award of an educator certificate;
- Requiring school districts and certain schools to notify DOE when a teacher or administrator resigns before an investigation of misconduct affecting the health, safety, or welfare of a student is concluded and requiring the DOE to place an alert on the person’s certificate file indicating that he or she resigned or was terminated before such an investigation was concluded; and
- Prohibiting a teacher who violates or fails to maintain the security of an industry certification exam from receiving a bonus based on such student certification.
- Makes it a second-degree felony for an authority figure to solicit or engage in sexual or lewd conduct with a student enrolled at a school, regardless of the student’s age.
- Amends the definition of school in the trespass on school grounds statute to include a school bus, allowing law enforcement to arrest someone for trespassing on a school bus, after the commission of the crime and without a warrant, if the officer has probable cause to believe the person committed the offense.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments were generally clarifying. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill.]
The Senate will be in Session, 10:00 am – 3:30 pm, to consider the following item and others on 3rd Reading:
SB 1048 – Firearms by Baxley
The bill enables a church, synagogue, or other religious institution to authorize a person who has a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun in some places where even a licensee normally may not, subject to several restrictions. These places includes elementary or secondary schools and career centers, if they are also established places of worship. Under the bill, a religious institution may authorize the holder of a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on certain school properties if they are “established physical place[s] of worship at which religious services are regularly conducted.” However, if the institution uses school property not owned by the institution, the institution must have the permission of the owner or administrator of the property to allow the licensed carrying of concealed handguns. In addition, a person may not possess a handgun on school property during school hours or when any school-sponsored activity is taking place on the property. Finally, the bill expressly states that religious institutions may not authorize a person to carry a handgun on the property of a public or private college or university.
The House will be in Session, 10:30 am – completion of business, to consider the following items and others on 2nd Reading:
HB 7007 – Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill addresses public officer, employee and third party conduct regarding sexual harassment, solicitation and negotiation of conflicting and potentially conflicting income producing relationships, addresses post-service lobbying restrictions for certain officers, and revises executive branch lobbyist registration requirements in addition to other reforms. Specifically, the bill:
- Removes restrictions on state employees lobbying the legislature;
- Establishes policy to prohibit and prevent sexual harassment in all branches of government;
- Restricts use of campaign funds to defend legal claims arising out of public service and limits use of public service announcements during a campaign;
- Broadens the Code of Ethics to prohibit sexual harassment of or by state employees and third parties, and, relating to sexual harassment, prohibits disclosures of confidential information, retaliation, or false complaints;
- Requires agencies to adopt policies to manage reports and complaints of sexual harassment, including policies to protect and provide certain accommodations to victims of alleged sexual harassment;
- Requires biennial surveys of the climate of sexual harassment in agencies and establishes a task force to review surveys, rules, and policies to make recommendations to improve sexual harassment policies;
- Prohibits public officers and employees from soliciting an employment or contractual relationship from entities with whom they are prohibited from entering into conflicting employment and contractual relationships;
- Requires public officers and employees to report or disclose particular solicitations and offers of employment or contractual relationships;
- Imposes a two-year post-service ban on personal representation before any state executive branch agency for agency directors including department secretaries, except when employed by another state agency;
- Imposes certain restrictions on statewide elected officers and legislators related to employment or investment advice;
- Restricts certain unelected state officers and employees regarding soliciting and negotiating an employment or contractual relationship with certain employers;
- Authorizes the Commission on Ethics to investigate disclosures of certain prohibited solicitations in the same manner as a complaint; and
- Revises executive branch lobbying registration requirements to mandate electronic registration, clarify provisions, adjust the maximum registration fee, and add the Board of Governors of the State University System and the State Board of Education to the list of entities to which the requirements apply.
HB 7073 – Government Integrity by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill includes various provisions designed to promote integrity in government and identify and eliminate fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct in government. Specifically, the bill:
- Creates the Florida Accountability Office under the Auditor General for the purpose of ensuring accountability and integrity in state and local government and facilitating the elimination of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Inspector General (CIG) and agency inspectors general to determine whether there is reasonable probability that fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government has occurred within six months of initiating an investigation of such activity.
- Provides a mechanism for the state to recover funds when the CIG or an agency inspector general determines a public official, independent contractor, or agency has committed fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Financial Officer to regularly forward to the Florida Accountability Officer copies of suggestions and information submitted through the state’s “Get Lean” hotline,.
- Provides a financial incentive for agency employees to file Whistle-blower’s Act complaints and participate in investigations that lead to the recovery of funds.
- Requires a claim for legal fees to be paid in whole or in part by any state or local agency to be documented by a description with reasonable particularity of the services provided;
- For agency contracts over $50,000, requires a contractor to include in the contract a good faith estimate of gross profit for each year of the contract, provides a process for the agency to review such estimate, and provides financial penalties for a contractor who misrepresents the estimate.
- Prohibits state or local tax incentive funds from being used to award or pay a state contractor for services provided or expenditures incurred pursuant to a state contract.
- Requires school districts that receive annual federal, state, and local funds in excess of $500 million to employ an internal auditor and provided duties for such auditor.
- Broadens the competitive solicitation exemption for statewide broadcasting of public service announcements.
- Prohibits a state employee, other than an agency head, from lobbying for funding for a contract or participating in the award of the contract.
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller
The bill prohibits any local government from requiring payment of impact fees any time prior to issuing a building permit. The bill codifies the requirement for impact fees to bear a rational nexus both to the need for additional capital facilities and to the expenditure of funds collected and the benefits accruing to the new construction. Local governments will be required to designate the funds collected by the impact fees for acquiring, constructing, or improving the capital facilities to benefit the new users. Impact fees collected by a local government may not be used to pay existing debt or pay for prior approved projects unless such expenditure has a rational nexus to the impact generated by the new construction. The bill further excludes fees charged for connecting to water and sewer systems. The bill prohibits local governments from requiring in a specific area plan or related development order that a developer pay part or all the of costs to buy land or expand public facilities unless the local government has an ordinance requiring developers outside of the area plan to contribute a proportionate share of the funds, land, or public facilities necessary to offset the impacts of the development. When allowed by the statute, such funding obligation must have an essential nexus and be roughly proportionate to the proposed development. The bill also creates specific requirements and deadlines for a local government to review, process, and decide on applications for a specific area plan or related development order.
HB 1091 – Early Learning by Grall
The bill revises provisions related to the School Readiness program by:
- Expanding the definition of “at-risk” for eligibility purposes;
- Requiring the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to identify observation-based child assessments;
- Requiring OEL to adopt program assessment requirements that measure teacher-child interactions;
- Requiring OEL to revise the statewide provider contract to include contracted slots and quality improvement strategies, if applicable, and program assessment requirements;
- Establishing a payment differential of up to 15 percent based on program assessment results with no more than 5% of the 15% allocated based on submission of data by providers that implement an observation-based child assessment identified by OEL;
- Modifying the required functionality of the single statewide information system;
- Requiring OEL’s annual report to include certain program assessment information;
- Requiring Early Learning Coalitions (ELC) to establish local eligibility priorities and include them in their biennial School Readiness plans;
- Requiring an ELC’s biennial plan to include procedures for the use of contracted slots, a description of quality improvement strategies, and the results of a community needs assessment;
- Requiring School Readiness providers to participate in a program assessment; and
- Allowing the award of grants and financial supports to providers and instructors to meet program assessment requirements.
- Appropriates $6 million to the OEL to implement the program assessment.
HB 1035 – Personalized Education by Sullivan
- Renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program to the Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program.
- Allows any district in the state to submit an application to DOE to participate.
- Authorizes districts participating in the pilot program to use an alternative interpretation of letter grades to measure student success in grades 6-12. The alternate system must meet specific requirements and be approved by the district school board.
- Allows districts to determine and award one full credit toward high school graduation based on the student’s mastery of core content and skills without meeting the current minimum requirement of 135 or 120 hours of bona fide instruction to award one full credit.
- Requires the statewide articulation agreement to ensure fair and equitable access for high school graduates with mastery-based, nontraditional diplomas and transcripts.
- Expands the allowable uses of Gardiner Scholarship funds to include:
- Part-time tutoring by a person with a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in the subject area in which instruction is given; and
- Tuition and fees associated for a nationally or internationally recognized program for children with a neurological disorder or brain damage.
- Establishes the Reading Summer Scholarship Account to provide a struggling reader with a scholarship to customize a reading program to improve his or her reading skills.
- Appropriates $9,700,000 to fund the reading scholarship accounts and an additional $300,000 for the administrative fee for the participating SFOs. The allocation of these funds is contingent upon HB 7055 or similar legislation failing to become law.
HB 887 – Reading Instruction by Harrell
To further increase the quality of reading interventions, the bill:
- Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, requires teachers who provide reading interventions under a school district’s K-12 comprehensive reading plan to be certified or endorsed in reading;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE), as part of its review of certain certification and endorsement requirements, to consider awarding a reading endorsement to teachers who are certified by an internationally recognized reading intervention organization or who complete a program accredited by the organization; and
- Requires school districts to provide teachers access to training for a reading endorsement consistent with the DOE’s review of endorsement requirements.