This was a relatively light day for committee meetings and floor sessions – detailed in the “Today’s Happenings” link below – so this is a good time for you to review the events of this week and let us know of any concerns or questions you may have about bills considered this week. In particular, we would like ot hear your thoughts and concerns about SB 376 which proposes a methodology for distributing capital outlay funding to charter schools that includes a requirement for school districts to share revenue from the district capital outlay millage with charter schools. We have summarized this bill in previous issues of the Session Spotlight this week and have also posted the summary on our 2017 Legislative Session page (click on the link titled “2017-2018 Education Legislation Materials” or click HERE for a direct link to the summary). Please email Ruth Melton with your comments, questions, or concerns on this bill and any others. Also, please remember that the FSBA Legislative Committee and Advocacy Subcommittee will be meeting online tomorrow in the first of our Every-Friday-During-the-Legislative-Session meetings to discuss this and other issues of the week.
In the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee meeting, legislators held a workshop on a DRAFT Proposed Committee Bill (PCB):
PIE5 – Public Officer and Agency Employee Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics — WORKSHOPPED
The bill focuses on prohibiting solicitation of prohibited employment or employment and business deals that may involve potential conflicts. The bill permits negotiation and acceptance of some employment that the public officer or employee may not solicit, with disclosure and with permission, where warranted. The bill permits otherwise prohibited solicitation in the final months of public service in some circumstances. [NOTE: An outline of the major provisions of this DRAFT PCB was discussed at length, with several Committee members asking questions about when, and to whom, several provisions would apply. Committee Chair Larry Metz said that there would be further discussions and opportunities for input. No votes were taken on the PCB today.]
In the House Session:
HB 7027 — Federal Education Funding by Education – READ 2ND TIME; ADOPTED
This memorial urges Congress to remove restrictions on federal Title I funds and IDEA Part B funds by providing such funds through a block grant. The memorial asserts that, through block grants of these funds, the State of Florida will be able to develop innovative and cost-effective programs that are responsive to the educational needs of students from disadvantaged families. [NOTE: As background, please note that memorials are not presented to the Governor for review and are not subject to the Governor’s veto power. Memorials have no force of law, but they are mechanisms for the legislature to formally petition the U.S. Congress to act on a particular subject. Copies of the memorial will be provided to the President of the United States, the President of the U.S. Senate, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and each member of the Florida delegation to the U.S. Congress.]
HB 7033 — Medicaid Block Grants by Health Innovation – READ 2ND TIME; ADOPTED
This memorial urges Congress to implement the Medicaid program through per capita block grants to the states, including a rate of growth and various adjustments for risk and enrollee income, and including state authority to design programs without reference to current federal Medicaid laws and regulations. [NOTE: As noted above, memorials have no force of law, but are a mechanism for the legislature to formally petition the U.S. Congress. This memorial will be circulated as described above.]
In the Senate Session:
SB 2 – Higher Education by Galvano — READ THIRD TIME; PASSED THE SENATE
Cited as the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017”, the bill promotes on-time graduation by expanding student financial assistance and support, establishing tuition and fee incentives, streamlining 2+2 articulation, and strengthening mechanisms that keep colleges and universities accountable to Florida taxpayers. The legislation also expands policy and funding tools universities can leverage to recruit and retain the very best faculty, enhance professional and graduate schools, and improve aging infrastructure and research laboratories. [NOTE: This bill is the key component in Senate President Negron’s higher education package. Related news article: “Block tuition could be costly for universities”]
There is only one bill up for consideration tomorrow, but it addresses an issue of interest: revisions to the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program.
Please note that legislative meetings may be viewed via live webcast or archived videos on the Florida Channel.
The House Education Committee will meet (9:00-10:00 am; 17 HOB) to consider a Proposed Committee Bill (PCB):
EDC2 — Best and Brightest Teachers and Principals by Education
The bill amends the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program eligibility criteria to include additional academic credentials, thereby increasing access to awards under the program. The bill also establishes the Best and Brightest Principal Program to recognize principals who are able to recruit and retain excellent teachers.
With respect to the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, the bill deletes the statutory expiration date of July 1, 2017, and amends eligibility criteria by:
- lowering the threshold for a qualifying assessment score from the 80th percentile to the 75th percentile based on the National Percentile Ranks in effect when the assessment was taken;
- allowing teachers to use scores from other assessments that measure cognitive ability to qualify;
- allowing teachers to qualify with an assessment score at the 70th percentile or higher if they earned a baccalaureate degree with a Latin honor (e.g., cum laude); and
- allowing teachers to demonstrate they are “highly effective” based solely on their value-added model rating.
The bill creates the Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program, which:
- establishes a procedure for identifying principals who qualify for recognition under the program;
- establishes eligibility criteria for principals, as follows:
- The principal must have served as principal at his or her school for at least the last 2 years; and
- The faculty at the principal’s school must have a ratio of best and brightest teachers to other classroom teachers that is at the 80th percentile or higher, statewide, for that school type (elementary, middle, high, or combination);
- provides a monetary award, established in the General Appropriations Act, for principals who are designated as best and brightest and requires that qualifying principals at a Title I school receive a greater award; and
- requires school districts to provide qualifying principals with the autonomy over budgetary and personnel decisions that is currently provided to principals participating in the Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative (PAPPI).