As we approach the start of the 2019 Legislative Session on March 5, 2019, FSBA will be working to keep our members well informed of the activities of the Florida Legislature and related events in Tallahassee. Our main tools for accomplishing this are this Session Spotlight blog and our Legislative Session page. In addition, we offer background information on various issues in our Resource Room and support for your advocacy efforts in our Advocacy Toolkit. We encourage you to bookmark these pages and visit them often for new and updated information.
This issue of the Session Spotlight includes information, updates, and links on the legislative leadership, first round of Legislative Interim Committee Meetings held last week, Summary of the 2018 Elections, the Draft Report of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, and more. Please click on the files below for more information on each topic.
During and after the Legislature’s organization meeting on November 20, each chamber has formally established their leadership teams and identified the leadership and membership of their committees/subcommittees. The Florida House is led by Speaker Jose Oliva, Majority Leader Dane Eagle, and Minority Leader Kionne McGhee. The Florida Senate is led by President Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo, and Minority Leader Audrey Gibson. In addresses before each chamber, the leaders highlighted some of their priorities for the upcoming session. Speaker Oliva emphasized health care, tax cuts, and expanded school choice. President Galvano focused on hurricane recovery, higher education, and education accountability. You may access the Florida Channel video of the House Organizational Session is available HERE and the video of the Senate Organizational Session is available HERE.
House Speaker Oliva and Senate President Galvano have not designated the leadership and membership of each legislative committee and subcommittee. We have prepared several charts that provide the names and contact information for the full House and Senate and for the education related committees and subcommittees. In addition, we have prepared a School District Legislative Delegation chart. These are posted in the “Legislative Delegations and Key Committees” file on our Legislative Session page.
In addition to these organizational activities, the Legislature held the first round of Interim Committee Meetings last week. These Interim Committee Meetings are held prior to the formal start of each Legislative Session and typically provide member training and orientation, reports and information on key issues, and/or preliminary consideration of filed legislation. The House devoted the week to legislator orientation and training. House members enrolled in “Legislator University” that provided a variety of “course” offerings, including courses on ethics, House Rules, state budget, bill drafting, PreK-12 education, the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and more.
Meanwhile, the Senate offered training in ethics and other topics, but also held some more traditional committee meetings. Of particular interest:
- The Senate Appropriations Committee had a presentation and discussion of the state financial outlook which provided information on the status of Florida’s economy, level of state reserves, expected revenues and expenditures and related data for the next three years. The Meeting Packet is available HERE
- The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education had an interesting presentation and discussion of on state education funding. The Meeting Packet is available HERE.
- The Senate Finance & Tax Committee had an informative presentation on the state finance and tax policies and recent legislation relating to these topics. The Meeting Packet is available HERE.
The full schedule of education-related meetings from Interim Committee Meeting Week 1 is available in the “Legislative Committee Meeting Schedules & Information” folder on our Legislative Session page. The next round of Interim Committee Meetings will be held January 7-11, 2019. We will post the meeting schedule and related information in our next issue.
The results of the 2018 General Election necessitated and unprecedented number of recounts. In Florida, machine and/or manual recounts were conducted in 6 races including the races for Florida’s Governor, Commissioner of Agriculture, Florida Senate District 18, Florida House Districts 26 and 89, and U.S. Senator. In the state’s executive branch, Ron DeSantis prevailed in the race for Governor and Nikki Fried prevailed in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture. Both will be sworn into office on January 8. 2019.
Governor-Elect DeSantis has established a Transition Team to ensure a smooth transition from the current administration to his own and has also established several advisory groups to advise the new administration on key issues. Among these advisory groups is the Advisory Committee on Education and Workforce Development that will provide background and advice to the Governor-Elect DeSantis on education policy issues, including accountability, standards, parent empowerment, school choice, and workforce preparedness. The membership of the this Advisory Committee includes school board members, superintendents, district administrators, and other education stakeholders (full membership list is available HERE). The Advisory Committee held the first of several meetings last week to discuss several education issues, including accountability & transparency and school choice options. The video of this first meeting is available HERE.
The next meeting of this Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 10:00 AM EST and will be held via telephone. Dial: 1 (888) 585-9008; Conference Code: 966-277-533#.
All of the 120 seats in the Florida House were open for election and, once recounts in two House districts were complete, the House membership now includes 39 freshman and 81 veteran members. The party composition of the House shifted from 78 Republicans and 42 Democrats to 73 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
Meanwhile, 22 of the 40 seats in the Florida Senate were open for election, once the recount in one Senate district was complete, the Senate elected 8 freshman and re-elected 15 veteran members. The party composition of the Senate shifted from 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats to 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats.
School Board Elections
FSBA congratulates the 212 school board members that were elected or reelected this year, especially the 77 new school board members that are bringing a fresh perspective to their district school boards. We also congratulate the 21 school districts that earned the trust and support of their residents with the passage of each and every one of the 25 school related referenda that were placed on the ballot this year. The voter approval of 100% of these referenda illustrates the fact that citizens understand the increasing demands placed on school districts that are often operating with limited state funds and, more important, this public support highlights the level of trust communities have in their locally elected school board members. for more information, please see the “ to manage funds, personnel, and elections wisely and appropriately.
We have posted complete election details for these elections and others in the “General Elections Results” file on our 2018 Elections page.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission was established by SB 7026 and charged with investigating the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and prior mass violence incidents in this state and develop recommendations for system improvements. The Commission has been meeting over the past six months to conduct this investigation. Last week, the Commission met over two days – December 12-13, 2018 – to review and discuss the initial draft of their report and recommendations. We have posted the draft report and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation in the School Safety & Mental Health Resources file on our Health & Safety page. Please note that the report is more than 400 pages but, at the end of each chapter of the report, the Commission’s findings and recommendations are listed for easy review. Also, you may access the videos of this meeting in the Video Library of the Florida Channel at https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/. The two day meeting is broken down into several separate videos beginning on December 12.
The State Board of Education met on Monday, December 17, 2018. The main item of interest on the meeting Agenda was consideration of the appointment of Richard Corcoran as the next Commissioner of Education. Current Commissioner Pam Stewart recently announced that she would be retiring, effective January 8, 2019. A significant number of citizens spoke, some in support and some in opposition, on the selection of Mr. Corcoran for this post. This was followed by comments by Mr. Corcoran himself and questions and comments by the State Board members. The Board then cast a unanimous vote to select Mr. Corcoran as the next Commissioner.
In other business, the Board approved revisions to various turn-around plans and recognized the dedicated service of Chancellor Hershel Lyons and Deputy Commissioner Linda Champion, both of whom have announced plans to retire in the coming weeks.. You may access the video of this meeting in the Video Library of the Florida Channel at https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/.
The next meeting of the State Board is scheduled for January 16, 2019. We will provide information about the agenda when available.