Our first Weekly Video Update features FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina providing a general overview of the political climate in Tallahassee and of the issues we expect to be in the spotlight during the 2016 Session. In addition, this video provides some more detailed information on the bills and issues that were addressed during the first week of the Session. (Please scroll down below the video for more information)
Among the bills and issues that are discussed in this video are:
SB 672 – Educational Options by Gaetz
The legislation codifies into Florida law the expansion of the Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) Program and the statewide coordination of Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Programs for students with intellectual disabilities. The bill also renames the Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program the “Gardiner Scholarship” in honor of President Gardiner and his family. In addition, the bill authorizes certain school districts and charter schools to be eligible to receive incentive payments for implementing a standard student attire policy. The bill has passed the Legislature and now awaits approval or veto by Governor Scott.
SB 1634 – School Choice by Legg
This bill arose because some legislators had expressed concern that some school districts were designating schools as “schools of choice” in an effort to circumvent class size requirements. The bill defines the statutory conditions under which a charter school or district innovation school of choice may be approved to calculate class size penalties at the school level average. Specifically, the bill establishes a definition for a school of choice to include concepts of innovation that is distinct and unique, along with open enrollment choice. The bill also expands authority for school districts to pursue school board approved innovation schools of choice through the State Board of Education beyond just technology-oriented schools.
- Allow students to be immediately eligible to join an existing team if the activity roster has not reached maximum size and the student has the requisite skills and abilities to participate;
- Prohibit a school district from delaying or preventing student participation in interscholastic and intrascholastic extracurricular activities;
- Allow a private school the option of joining the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) on a per-sport basis;
- Prohibit the FHSAA from discouraging private schools from simultaneously maintaining membership in another athletic association;
- Authorize the FHSAA to allow a public school the option to apply for consideration to join another athletic association;
- Establish escalating penalties for recruiting violations;
- Require an educator certificate to be revoked for a third recruiting offense in violation of FHSAA bylaws; and
- Expand the scope of controlled open enrollment options available to parents beyond school district boundaries, subject to capacity and maximum class size.
SB 686 – Government Accountability by Gaetz
Among other things, this bill:
- Creates a new monthly report required of legislative branch lobbyists and provides penalties for a lobbyist that fails to comply;
- Prohibits legislators from accepting employment with private entities that directly receive funding through state revenues;
- Extends the conflicting contractual relationship ban to include contracts held by a business entity in which a public officer or public employee holds a controlling interest in a business entity or are an officer, director, or a member who manages such an entity;
- Allows the Commission on Ethics to initiate its own investigations under certain circumstances;
- Amends Florida’s criminal provisions relating to Bribery, Misuse of Public Office, Unlawful Compensation or Reward for Official Behavior, Official Misconduct, Bid Tampering to replace the corrupt intent mens rea requirement with the knowingly and intentionally mens rea requirement and also applies those crimes to “public contractors”;
- Requires various governmental entities to adopt internal controls to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse;
- Makes it a first degree misdemeanor to provide prohibited compensation, requires governmental entities to investigate claims of unauthorized compensation, and provides enhanced penalties;
- Allows the Governor or Commissioner of Education to report that a local governmental entity has failed to comply with applicable auditing, financial reporting, bond issuance notification, bond verification provisions, or failed to disclose a financial emergency or provide information required during a financial emergency; and
- Provides that, if an audit report of a school district or other educational entity, includes a recommendation that was in the preceding financial audit report, the entity must indicate its intent regarding corrective action within 60 days after the delivery of the audit report.
HB 791 – Local Tax Referenda by Ingoglia
The bill requires any referendum to levy a discretionary sales surtax to be held on the day of the general election and approved by 60 percent of electors voting. The bill also prohibits a county or school district from spending funds to promote a surtax referendum, except for funds specifically appropriated for that purpose. If enacted, the effective date of this bill is July 1, 2017. As a result, it would have no impact on the 2016 election cycle.