The Legislature held the first round of Interim Committee Meetings last week in preparation of the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session. Please click on the file below to access our report on the bills and presentations that were considered. In addition, please click on the other files listed below for a few quick updates on items of interest.
In the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee:
SB 96 – Human Trafficking Education in Schools by Steube – Passed
The bill amends s. 1003.42, F.S., regarding required instruction in the public school system. The revisions add information on the dangers and signs of human trafficking to the requirements of comprehensive health education. This new requirement can include information on the warning signs of human trafficking, terms used in trafficking, websites used by traffickers, and information on how a student can get help. A student may opt out of this instruction with a note from his or her parent.
SB 108 – Florida Kidcare Program by Campbell – Passed
The bill establishes the Kidcare Operational Efficiency and Health Care Improvement Workgroup as a task force administratively housed in the Department of Health to maximize the return on investment and enhance the operational efficiencies of the Florida Kidcare program.
[NOTE: The Florida Kidcare Program was created in 1998 by the Florida Legislature in response to the federal enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997. CHIP provides subsidized health insurance to uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid but who have family incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and meet other eligibility criteria. Last month, Congress allowed CHIP to expire but there are indications that this was an oversight that will be corrected.]
In the Senate Education Committee:
SB 4 – Higher Education by Galvano – Passed
The bill establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018” to help students access higher education and graduate on time. Specifically, the bill:
- Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance programs in the following ways:
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Academic Scholars award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 for textbooks, and authorize use of the award for summer term enrollment as funded in the General Appropriations Act.
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Medallion Scholars award to an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and specified fees to pay for educational expenses.
- Extends the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to eligible students from out of state.
- Revises the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.
- Establishes the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program for farmworkers and the children of farmworkers.
- Requires each state university board of trustees to adopt, for implementation in the fall 2018 semester, a block tuition policy for full-time, first-time-in-college students.
- Modifies state university performance accountability metrics to promote on-time student graduation in 4 years.
- Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to fund and support the efforts of state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and research scholars.
- Establishes the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program to enhance the quality of schools and degree programs in medicine, law, and business.
- Requires state universities to use data-driven gap analyses to identify internship opportunities in high-demand fields for students.
- Strengthens accountability of state university direct-support organizations.
[NOTE: This is very similar to legislation passed last year but later vetoed by Governor Scott.]
SB 88 – High School Graduation Requirements by Hukill – Passed as amended with a Committee Substitute (CS)
The bill specifies financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering 9th grade in the 2018-2019 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; and
- The requirements for a student to earn a standard high school diploma to:
- Establish a separate one-half credit requirement in personal financial literacy and specifying related instruction.
- Reduce the number of required elective credits from eight to seven and one-half.
[NOTE: The amendment added a “whereas” clause that states that Florida is one of 17 states in the nation to require financial literacy instruction as a prerequisite for high school graduation and a standard high school diploma and the adoption of this act will make Florida that 6th state to require a stand-alone course in personal financial literacy.]
The Committee also had a presentation on emergency coordination efforts of state and local entities by Commissioner Stewart. You may access the complete meeting packet – which includes information on the bills listed above and on the presentation – HERE.
In the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee:
SB 192 – Public Meetings by Baxley – Passed
The bill revises Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine Law” by codifying judicial interpretation and application of s. 286.011, F.S. Specifically, the bill:
- Provides the following definitions:
- “De facto meeting” means the use of board or commission staff or third parties, acting as intermediaries, to facilitate discussion of public business between board or commission members.
- “Discussion” means a conversation between or among board or commission members regardless of whether through oral, written, electronic, or any other form of communication.
- “Meeting” means a gathering, whether formal or informal, of two or more members of the same board or commission, even if they have not yet taken office.
- “Official act” means the adoption of a resolution or rule or other formal action being taken by the board or commission.
- “Public business” means any matter before, or foreseeably expected to come before, the board or commission.
- Specifies that members of a board may participate in “fact-finding” exercises or excursion to research public business, and may participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature if:
- The board provides reasonable notice;
- A vote, official act, or an agreement regarding a future action does not occur;
- There is no discussion of “public business” that occurs; and
- There are appropriate records, minutes, audio recordings, or video recordings made and retained as a public record.
- Provides that, if there is a gathering of two or more board members where no official acts are taken and no public business is discussed, then no public notice or access is required.
In the House Ways and Means Committee:
HB 7 – Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Burton – Passed
The bill contains several elements intended to increase the fiscal transparency of local governments.
- Requires easy public access to local government governing boards’ voting records related to tax increases and issuance of tax-supported debt (phased in over 4 years);
- Requires easy online access to property tax TRIM notices and a 4-year history of property tax rates and amounts at the parcel level (phased in over 3 years;
- Requires that a 4-year history of property tax rates and total revenue generated at the jurisdiction level is provided on government websites;
- Requires additional public meetings and expands public notice requirements for local option tax increases, other than property taxes, and new long-term, tax-supported debt issuances;
- Requires local governments to conduct a debt affordability analysis prior to approving the issuance of new, long-term tax-supported debt;
- Requires that, if a CPA conducts an annual financial audit, the auditor must include an affidavit signed by the chair of the local government governing board stating that it is in compliance with the provisions of the new “Local Government Fiscal Transparency Act” created by this bill and requires the Auditor General to request evidence of corrective action from local governments found not to be in compliance with the Act;
- Revises the local government reporting requirements for economic development incentives;
[NOTE: This bill may be a county or municipality mandate requiring a two-thirds vote of the membership of the House.]
In the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee
The Subcommittee had an Overview of the current year (Fiscal Year 2017-2018) PreK-12 Budget. You may access the presentation HERE. [NOTE: The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee had a similar presentation.]
In the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee:
The Subcommittee had a presentation on the implementation of several initiatives passed in the 2017 Session, including legislation relating to Schools of Excellence, Reading, Best & Brightest Scholarship Programs, School Improvement, and School Grades. You may access the presentation HERE. [NOTE: Several other Committees/Subcommittees had a presentation similar to this one, particularly with regard to the portions of the presentation relating to school improvement.]
In the Senate Appropriations Committee:
The Committee had a sobering presentation by Amy Baker of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research on Florida’s Long Range Financial Outlook. As we reported last week, a preliminary look at the Florida’s annual financial outlook projected a $52 million surplus – the amount that would be left over after the state pays for critical and high priority needs – for lawmakers to work with next session. However, last week’s presentation confirms that the impacts of Hurricane Irma and other events will require budget amendments for the current 2017-2018 fiscal year, eliminate hope for a state revenue surplus for fiscal year 2018-2019, and send state revenue projections for future years further into the red. Of particular concern are the negative impacts Hurricane Irma has had to two of Florida’s most important general revenue drivers: Tourism and Agriculture. In addition, an expected reduction in the rate of return on state retirement investments deepens the revenue deficit by an additional $50 million. More negative revenue impacts are expected, but it is too soon to know how much or how long those impacts will be felt. At this point, it appears that, rather than having a very modes $52 million revenue surplus for fiscal year 2018-2019, the state will be working with a revenue deficit of about $145 million. You may access the Long Range Financial Outlook presentation HERE. [NOTE: The House Appropriations Committee and House Ways & Means Committee had a similar presentation.]
The next round of Interim Committee meetings is scheduled for October 23-27, 2017. We will provide a schedule as soon as it is available.
The next meeting of the State Board of Education (SBE) will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the Florida State College at Jacksonville. Among other items on the meeting agenda, the SBE will consider various district turnaround options, designation of Schools of Excellence, and Schools of Hope Program Awards. You may access the full agenda for the meeting HERE. Please note that you may watch this meeting on The Florida Channel.
The CRC and some of its committees will hold meetings this week. Of particular interest, the full Commission will be meeting in Tallahassee on Tuesday, October 17, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. The agenda for this meeting includes introduction of proposals, reports of committees, and consideration of items on Special Order as determined by the CRC’s Rules and Administration Committee. You may watch this meeting on The Florida Channel. As mentioned in our last issue of the Session Spotlight, we have posted information to assist you in following the work of the CRC on the Education Legal News page in our Resource Room, including, among other things:
- General background information about the CRC process
- Links to the CRC membership and committees that are likely to consider issues relating to education, including relevant committee meeting packets
- Link to the list and information on the Proposals for Changes to the Florida Constitution that have been submitted by the public and by the members of the CRC
Special elections have been held, or will be held, to fill 5 vacancies in the Legislature – 1 vacancy in the Senate and 4 vacancies in the House. Thus far:
- Annette Taddeo (D) has been elected to Senate District 40, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Frank Artiles (R).
- Daniel Perez (R) has been elected to House District 116, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Jose Felix Diaz (R).
- Bobby Olszewski (R) has been elected to House District 44, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Eric Eisnaugle (R).
The following special elections will be held in the coming months:
- The General Election to fill the vacancy in House District 58 created by the resignation of Dan Raulerson (R) will be held December 8, 2017
- The General Election to fill the vacancy in House District 72 created by the resignation of Alexandra Miller (R) will be held February 13, 2018
We have updated our House and Senate contact lists to reflect these changes and have also provided each legislators’ capital phone number in addition to his/her email address, party affiliation, and district number. These revised contact lists are available on our 2018 Legislative Session page. We will report on the outcome of the remaining special elections and on any education-related committee/subcommittee assignments, if any, of these newly elected legislators when that information becomes available.