There have been several bills filed for consideration during this Session that relate to weapons and firearms. Many of these address authorization for persons who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm to various locations – such as public and private schools, postsecondary institutions, airports, and certain government buildings — where such weapons are usually prohibited. Today’s Session Spotlight focuses on one of these bills that relates to education — HB 849 by Representative Combee — that was considered and passed today by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Under current Florida law (Chapter 790, F.S.), and subject to limited exceptions, a person — including a person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm (licensee) – is prohibited from carrying a weapon or firearm at a school. The term “school” is defined in law to mean “any preschool, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic.” The only person excepted from this prohibition is a law enforcement officer. However, current law does not prohibit, or even address, carrying a concealed weapon to a church or religious institution. HB 849 would amend current law to authorize a licensee to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm on private school property if a religious institution is also located on the property. Representative Combee stated that he filed this bill at the request of a church in his district that, in response to concerns about the tragic shootings that had occurred in and around churches, wished to have an armed security team (who are not trained law enforcement officers) available on the church grounds and who would, therefore, also be on the grounds of a private religious school located on the church grounds. In the discussion and testimony on the bill, comments and questions were raised by both those who are strong supporters of gun and property rights and those who feared that this bill would open the door to authorizing guns in other locations and circumstances in which they are currently prohibited. HB 849 passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and has two more committee stops before it can be available for consideration on the House floor. While there currently is no direct Senate companion bill, there are several related Senate bills that could be amended to include the provisions of HB 849. We encourage you to consider the issues raised by this legislation and share you thoughts and concerns with your legislators.
There were a few other bills of interest under consideration today. Please click on the link below to access the details and outcome on these bills.
In the House Local, Federal, & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meeting:
HB 599 – Public Works Projects by Williamson — PASSED
The bill prohibits the state or a political subdivision, except when required by state or federal law, from requiring a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier engaged in a public works project to:
- Pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or prescribe any wage rate;
- Provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits;
- Control, limit, or expand staffing; or
- Recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated, restricted, or single source.
In addition, the bill provides that the state or a political subdivision that contracts for a public works project may not prohibit a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier from submitting a bid on the project or being awarded the relevant contract if such individual is otherwise qualified to do the work described. This provision does not apply to vendors that have been convicted of a public entity crime or have been found to have committed discrimination.
In the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 392 – High School Graduation Requirements/Financial Literacy by Hukill — PASSED
The bill creates the “Personal Financial Literacy Education Act” to specify financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year. Specifically, the bill revises the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to establish requirements for financial literacy distinct from the existing financial literacy requirements specified under the economics curricular content within the standards for social studies. The bill revises the requirements for a student to earn a standard high school diploma by establishing a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy, deleting the requirement that the one-half credit in economics include financial literacy, and reducing the number of required elective credits from eight to seven and one-half.
In the House Appropriations Committee meeting:
HB 479 – Government Accountability by Metz – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill amends statutes pertaining to government accountability and auditing. Of particular interest to school boards, the bill:
- Specifies that the Governor or Commissioner of Education, or designee, may notify the Legislative Auditing Committee of an entity’s failure to comply with certain auditing and financial reporting requirements;
- Provides definitions for the terms “abuse”, “fraud”, and “waste”;
- Requires each agency, the judicial branch, the Justice Administrative Commission, state attorneys, public defenders, criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, the Guardian Ad Litem program, local governmental entities, charter schools, school districts, Florida College System institutions, and state universities to establish and maintain internal controls;
- Revises the composition of auditor selection committees;
- Requires completion of an annual financial audit of the Florida Virtual School;
- Requires a local governmental entity, district school board, charter school, or charter technical career center, Florida College System board of trustees, or university board of trustees to respond to audit recommendations under certain circumstances;
- Requires an independent certified public accountant conducting an audit of a local governmental entity to determine, as part of the audit, whether the entity’s annual financial report is in agreement with the entity’s audited financial statements;
- Limits to $150 the amount that may be reimbursed per day for travel lodging expenses for state agency and judicial branch employees under certain circumstances; and
- Prohibits a board or commission from requiring a member of the public to provide an advance written copy of his or her testimony or comments as a precondition of being given the opportunity to be heard.
[NOTE: The bill was amended slightly for clarification and to insert travel cost limits and reimbursement provisions. This short summary reflects these changes to the bill.]
In the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 374 – Postsecondary Education by Hukill – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates the “College Competitiveness Act of 2017” which restructures the governance of the Florida College System and modifies the mission of the system and its institutions. Specifically, the bill:
- Strengthens public college-to-university articulation by establishing the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide to students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities;
- Modifies the governance of the Florida Community College System (FCCS) by renaming the Florida College System as the FCCS, establishing a State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC), and transferring responsibilities regarding Florida’s community colleges from the State Board of Education (SBE) to the SBCC;
- Clarifies expectations and state oversight of baccalaureate degree programs offered by FCCS institutions, aligns the baccalaureate approval process for St. Petersburg College with the approval process for other FCCS institutions, and establishes a cap on upper-level, undergraduate full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at Florida’s community colleges, but provides flexibility for planned and purposeful growth of baccalaureate degree programs if certain conditions are met;
- Clarifies the K-20 education system mission by emphasizing the mission must be to avoid wasteful duplication of programs, and reinforces the distinct mission of Florida’s community colleges and technical centers in meeting Florida’s labor market demands and regional needs.
[NOTE: Several amendments were adopted today. The most significant amendments clarified that CAPE and career education programs would have collaborative oversight by the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC), modified the membership of the SBCC to ensure geographic representation and provide requirements for the student representative, and to authorize an increase in the FTE caps for certain institutions.]
Please note that the meetings listed below may be viewed via live webcast or archived videos on the Florida Channel. Also, for real-time updates on these meetings and other legislative activities, please click HERE to access our Twitter feed.
The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will meet (8:00-11:00 am; 404 HOB) to consider the following item and others:
PIE5 – Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill addresses public officer and employment conduct respecting solicitation and negotiation of conflicting and potentially conflicting income producing relationships, addresses post-service lobbying restrictions for certain elected and appointed officials, and revises executive branch lobbyist registration requirements. For the most part, the provisions apply to state-level public officers, but some provisions may apply at the local level. Specifically, the bill:
- Prohibits public officers and employees from soliciting an employment or contractual relationship from entities with whom they may not enter into conflicting employment and contractual relationships;
- Requires officers and employees to report any offer of an employment or contractual relationship from such entities;
- Requires certain disclosures of prohibited solicitations;
- Imposes a 6 year post service ban on personal representation before the Legislature and any executive branch agency applicable to statewide elected officers and members of the Legislature;
- Imposes a 2 year post service ban on personal representation before any state executive branch agency for heads of departments under the Governor, chief administrative officers of agencies headed by the Governor and Cabinet and by certain constitutional bodies unless the former official is employed by another state agency;
- Restricts potentially conflicting employment of statewide elected officers and state legislators:
- Prohibits solicitation of employment or investment advice arising out of official duties;
- Prohibits solicitation and acceptance of investment advice or profitmaking arrangements (other than employment) from lobbyists or lobbyists’ employers or principals;
- Requires disclosure by lobbyists and principals of any prohibited solicitations;
- Requires immediate disclosure of either new employment or an increase in compensation from certain employers;
- 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;
- Updates executive branch lobbying registration requirements to mandate electronic registration, clarify provisions and reduce mandatory investigation of audit-identified mistakes in compensation reporting;
- Repeals a statute strictly regulating legislative lobbying by state agency, university and college personnel.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet (10:00 am-12:00 pm; 412 KOB) to consider the following item and others:
SB 78 – Public School Recess by Flores
The bill requires each district school board to provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5. Such recess must involve at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play per day.