There were several bills of interest considered in committee meetings today. These bills address public records and meetings, the McKay Scholarship program, students with disabilities, the Florida Price Level Index, graduation requirements, instructional materials, and impact fees. Please click on the links below for our report on outcome of action on these bills and to access the schedule of meetings and bills that will be considered tomorrow.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – January 10, 2018“]
In the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 560 – Public Meetings and Records/Imminent Litigation by Steube — PASSED
- Expands a public meeting exemption that allows certain individuals of a governmental entity to discuss litigation pending before a court or administrative agency. The current exemption authorizes board and commission members and the chief administrative or executive officer of the entity to conduct a private meeting about pending litigation with the attorney of the entity.
- Broadens the exemption to additionally authorize a private meeting for the purpose of discussing imminent litigation. Litigation is considered imminent when the entity has received notice of a claim or demand by a party threatening litigation before a court or administrative agency.
- Subjects the parties involved in discussions of imminent litigation to the same standards that apply to discussions of pending litigation. Therefore:
- The attorney must advise the entity at a public meeting that he or she is seeking advice about the litigation.
- The subject matter at the private meeting is limited to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to legal expenses.
- The entire session must be recorded by a certified court reporter.
- The entity must provide reasonable public notice of the time and date of the attorney-client session, and other information related to the process.
If the imminent litigation does not proceed, the transcript of the private meeting must be made part of the public record the earlier of when it becomes apparent to the governmental entity that any litigation will not occur or when the underlying statute of limitations expires. [NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 439 — is similar, but has not been heard in either of the two committees of reference.]
SB 750 – Public Records by Perry — PASSED
The bill prohibits an agency that receives a public record request to inspect or copy a record from responding to such request by filing a civil action against the individual or entity making the request. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 273 — is identical and will be heard in the second of two committees of reference tomorrow in the House Government Accountability Committee (see “Coming Up Tomorrow” below).]
In the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 564 – McKay Scholarship Program by Young — PASSED
The bill modifies the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program to:
- Specify that a parent who seeks a reevaluation of an existing individual education plan (IEP) may request an IEP meeting and evaluation from the school district to obtain or revise a matrix of services.
- Authorize a school district to change a matrix of services based on the result of an IEP reevaluation.
The bill modifies the basis for changing the matrix of services by a school district as a result of a request for a reevaluation of an existing IEP by the student’s parent. This modification is consistent with a similar provision regarding a school district’s authority to change a student’s matrix of services under the Gardiner Scholarship Program. The bill may allow an IEP team to consider the student’s most recent circumstances, which may help the team in revising the IEP and adjusting the student’s matrix of services to effectively meet the student’s current needs. [NOTE: This was the third of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 399 — is similar, but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
In the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee meeting:
HB 63 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Edwards – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill amends the use of restraint on students with disabilities. Specifically, the bill:
- Defines terms related to seclusion and restraint.
- Provides that physical restraint may be used only to protect students, school personnel, or others, but may not be used for disciplining a student. Restraints should be used only when all other strategies and techniques have been exhausted. A student may only be physically restrained for the time necessary for protection.
- Prohibits several types of physical restraint techniques, including:
- Pain inducement to obtain compliance.
- Bone locks.
- Hyperextension of joints;
- Peer restraint.
- Pressure or weight on the chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, or abdomen, causing chest compression.
- Straddling or sitting on any part of the body or a maneuver that places pressure, weight, or leverage on the neck or throat, on an artery, or on the back of the student’s head or neck or that otherwise obstructs or restricts the circulation of blood or obstructs an airway.
- Any type of choking, including hand chokes, and any type of neck or head hold.
- spraying or pushing anything on or into the mouth, nose, eyes, or any part of the face or that involves covering the face or body with anything.
- Any maneuver that involves punching, hitting, poking, pinching, or shoving.
- Prone or supine restraint.
- Requires school districts to develop policies and procedures to ensure the physical safety and security of all students and school personnel; and requires that students be treated with dignity and respect.
- Outlines under what circumstances restraint may not be used.
- Describes the circumstance when time-outs may be used and prohibits certain areas.
- Prohibits student from being placed in seclusion.
- Requires the school to review a student’s functional behavioral assessment and individualized behavior intervention plan when a student is placed in time-out, physically restrained or secluded more than twice in a semester.
- Includes emotional and behavioral disabilities in the list of disabilities for which certain school personnel must be trained to identify for early intervention.
- Adds to staff training effective classroom behavior management strategies such as differential reinforcement, precision commands, minimizing attention or access to other reinforcers, and time-out methods.
- Directs DOE to publish data and analysis relating to incidents of seclusion and restraint on its website.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment added to the list of prohibited physical restraint techniques. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 260 — is identical, but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
HB 495 – School District Price Level Index by Diaz — PASSED
The bill provides for third-party review of the Florida Price Level Index (FPLI) methodology by requiring the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to contract with an independent consulting firm to conduct a review of the FPLI methodology by July 1, 2018. The bill also requires the DOE, by January 1, 2019, and every 10 years thereafter, to submit a report providing recommendations to the chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the chair of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and the Executive Office of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 824 — is identical, but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
HB 577 – High School Graduation Requirements by Silvers — PASSED
The bill allows a student to use credit earned upon completion of a DOE-registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program to satisfy the credit requirements for fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or practical arts. The State Board of Education (SBE) is required to approve and identify in the Course Code Directory apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs from which a student may use earned credit to satisfy graduation requirements. [NOTE: This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 856 — is identical, but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
HB 827 – Instructional Materials by Donalds – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
- Revises the state instructional materials adoption process by providing the responsibility for adopting instructional materials to the State Board of Education (SBE) rather than the Commissioner of Education. The SBE must adopt instructional materials at a regularly scheduled meeting no later than July 1 of the year before the 5-year adoption period is scheduled to begin.
- Requires the SBE to allow public comment on instructional materials at any meeting in which an adoption is considered.
- Requires that the public be granted access to, and the opportunity to submit comments on, instructional materials recommended for adoption by state instructional materials reviewers. Any submitted comment on a specific recommended instructional material must be provided to the SBE as part of its consideration of the instructional material.
- Provides that any virtual presentation provided by a bidding publisher or manufacturer must be posted on the DOE’s website for public access.
- Specifies that state instructional materials reviewers may recommend for adoption instructional materials with content more rigorous than the NGSSS, so long as the instructional materials, at a minimum, are aligned with the NGSSS.
- Provides that instructional materials that are found by the SBE to fully meet or be more rigorous than the NGSSS are not subject to public review procedures at the school district level but a district school board member may initiate the public review procedures if he or she has evidence that the instructional materials do not meet required criteria and standards for state instructional materials adoption.
- Requires the state instructional materials reviewer affidavit to include a statement that, to the best of the reviewer’s knowledge, any instructional materials recommended for adoption are, at a minimum, aligned to the NGSSS and meet state adoption criteria and standards.
- Requires the SBE and each district school board to establish a process by which members of the public can recommend instructional materials for consideration by instructional materials reviewers. Recommendations for consideration of instructional materials at the school district level may only come from parents and residents of the district. The DOE or district school board must contact the publisher of any instructional material recommended for consideration and provide the publisher with the opportunity to submit a bid for evaluation in accordance with the applicable procedures.
- Requires that instructional materials purchased using instructional materials allocation funds must include professional development and supplemental materials to support high-quality, accurate instruction.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments were generally clarifying and technical in nature. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no clear Senate companion bill but SB 1644 contains some comparable provisions, but has not yet been referred to any committees.]
In the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meeting:
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises the minimum requirements for impact fees to by adding to existing requirements that:
- Collection of the impact fees may not occur earlier than the issuance of the building permit for the property that is subject to the fee.
- The impact fee must be reasonably connected to, or have a rational nexus with, the need for additional capital facilities and the increased impact generated by the new residential or commercial construction.
- The impact fee must be reasonably connected to, or have a rational nexus with, the expenditures of the funds collected and the benefits accruing to the new residential or commercial construction.
- The local government must specifically earmark funds collected by the impact fees for use in acquiring capital facilities to benefit the new residents.
- The collection or expenditure of the impact fee revenues may not be used, in whole or part, to pay existing debt or be used for prior approved projects unless the expenditure is reasonably connected to, or has a rational nexus with, the increased impact generated by the new residential or commercial construction.
[NOTE: The Subcommittee took up and passed a strike-all amendment to the bill that substantially revised the bill . The short summary above reflects the provisions of the amended bill. The amendment brings the bill into better alignment with the Senate companion bill — SB 324 – which has been similarly amended and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
[toggle title=”Coming up tomorrow – January 11, 2018“]
Please note that all of the meetings listed below may be viewed via live webcast on the Florida Channel. For real-time updates on these meetings and other legislative activities, please click HERE to access our Twitter feed.
The House Judiciary Committee will meet, 8:30 – 10:00 am, to consider the following item and others:
HB 165 – Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Injury by McClain
The bill prohibits a person from:
- Making a threat in a writing or other record, including an electronic record, to kill or do great bodily injury to another person; and
- Posting or transmitting the threat in any manner that would allow another person to view the threat.
The bill also removes the requirement that the written threat be sent to the person threatened or a member of his or her family and reclassifies the offense as a third degree felony.
The Senate Rules Committee will meet, 9:00 – 11:00 am, to consider the following items and others:
SB 186 – Resign-to-run Law by Hutson
The bill requires a state or local officer who seeks a federal public office to submit his or her resignation at least 10 days before the first day of qualifying for the federal office if the terms of the two offices overlap. A state officer’s qualifying for a federal office while not submitting this resignation constitutes an automatic, immediately-effective resignation from his or her office. A similar “resign-to-run” law already applies to state or local officers who seek another state, district, county, or municipal public office.
SB 192 – Public Meetings by Baxley
The bill revises Florida’s “Government in the Sunshine Law” by codifying judicial interpretation and application of s. 286.011, F.S. The bill provides from jurisprudence definitions for the terms: “de facto meeting,” “discussion,” “meeting,” “official act,” and “public business.” The bill also provides guidelines for boards to conduct permissible fact-finding exercises or excursions. Finally, the bill provides in statute that notice is not required when two or more members of a board are gathered if no official acts are taken and no public business is discussed.
The House Government Accountability Committee will meet, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 273 – Public Records by Rodrigues
The bill prohibits an agency that receives a public record request to inspect or copy a record from responding to such request by filing a civil action against the individual or entity making the request.
HB 7011 – OGSR/Food & Nutrition Service Program by Oversight, Transparency
The bill removes the repeal date and thereby reenacting the public record exemption for personal identifying information of an applicant for or participant in a school food and nutrition service program held by DACS and DOE. The bill also narrows the exemption removing reference to information held by DCF as that department does not hold information relating to applicants for or participants in a school food and nutrition service program.
The House will be in Session, 1:00 pm – completion of business, to consider the following item(s) and others on Special Order (2nd Reading):
HB 9 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Metz
The bill creates the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” (Act) to require state and local governments and law enforcement agencies (covered bodies), including their officials, agents, and employees, to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Specifically, the bill:
- Prohibits a covered body from having a law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom which impedes a law enforcement agency from communicating or cooperating with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement;
- Prohibits any restriction on a covered body’s ability to use, maintain, or exchange immigration information for certain purposes;
- Requires a covered body to comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration law;
- Provides procedures for a law enforcement agency and court to follow when an arrested person cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States or is subject to an immigration detainer;
- Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days of the effective date of the Act;
- Authorizes a board of county commissioners to enact an ordinance to recover costs for complying with an immigration detainer;
- Requires an official or employee of a covered body to report a violation of the Act to the Attorney General or state attorney; failure to report a violation may result in suspension or removal from office;
- Authorizes the Attorney General or a state attorney to seek an injunction against a covered body that violates the Act;
- Imposes a civil penalty of at least $1,000 but no more than $5,000 for each day a policy that violates the Act was in effect;
- Creates a civil cause of action for a person injured by the conduct of an alien unlawfully present in the United States against a covered body whose violation of the Act contributed to the person’s injury;
- Prohibits the expenditure of public funds to reimburse or defend a public official or employee who violates the Act; and
- Suspends state grant funding eligibility for 5 years for a covered body that violates the Act.
HB 7009 – Workers’ Compensation by Commerce Committee
The bill makes the following changes to the workers’ compensation law:
- Permits direct payment of attorneys by or for claimants.
- Increases total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from104 weeks to 260 weeks.
- Fills a benefit gap that happens when TTD/TPD ends, but the injured worker is not at overall maximum medical improvement and/or no overall permanent impairment rating.
- Allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee schedule.
- This is only permitted if the statutory fee is less than 40 percent or greater than 125 percent of the hourly rate customarily charged in the local community by defense attorneys, with the JCC determining the relevant facts.
- If the departure fee is allowed, the JCC determines the hourly rate, not to exceed $150 per hour, using statutory factors and the number of necessary attorney hours.
- Provides that the injured worker is responsible for any remaining attorney fees if required by their retainer agreement; the retainer agreements must be filed with the JCCs, but are not subject to JCC approval.
- Allows insurers to uniformly reduce premiums by no more than 5 percent, if they file an informational-only notice within 30 days, subject to regulatory oversight.
- Grants the Three-Member Panel authority to fill gaps in statutory reimbursement when adopting schedules of maximum reimbursement allowances for medical care.
- Requires a good faith effort by the claimant and their attorney to resolve disputes prior to filing a petition for benefits; mandates a specified notice regarding attorney fees be signed by the claimant; increases the requirements applicable to petitions for benefits; eliminates carrier paid attorney fees for services occurring before the filing a petition; attaches attorney fees 45 days, rather than 30 days, following the filing of a petition; requires a JCC to dismiss a petition for lack of specificity, without prejudice, within 10 days or 20 days, depending upon whether a hearing is required.
- Eliminates the charge-based reimbursement of health care facility outpatient medical care in favor of reimbursing them at 200 percent (unscheduled care) and 160 percent (scheduled surgery) of Medicare. If no Medicare fee exists, then current reimbursement standards apply, which are incorporated into statute.
- Requires the authorization or denial of medical care authorization requests, unless there is a material deficiency.
- Provides for collecting additional information on attorney fees.
HB 11 – Government Accountability by Metz
The bill amends statutes pertaining to government accountability and auditing. Specifically, 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;
- Requires counties, municipalities, and water management districts to maintain certain budget documents on their websites for specified timeframes;
- Requires the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation to notify the Legislature of any clerk not meeting workload performance standards;
- Revises the monthly financial statement requirements for water management districts;
- 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, 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 certain employees under certain circumstances;
- Codifies the statewide travel management system in law and requires certain public entities to report public officer and employee travel information in the system; 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.
HB 7003 – Local Government Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill makes numerous changes to Florida’s Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees (Code) as it relates to local government officers, employees, and lobbyists. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires elected mayors and city commissioners serving municipalities with $10 million or more in total revenue for three consecutive years to file a full and public disclosure of their financial interests in lieu of the less detailed form of disclosure required under current law;
- Corrects an oversight with respect to the Code’s prohibition on conflicting employment or contractual relationships;
- Requires special district governing board members to annually complete four hours of ethics training, a requirement that mirrors the current law applicable to constitutional officers and elected municipal officers;
- Requires local officers that must abstain from voting on a measure due to a conflict of interest to disclose the conflict prior to participating in the measure;
- Adds school districts to the list of governmental entities that must withhold salary-related payments from employees for failure to timely file a disclosure of financial interests;
- Requires a person who wishes to lobby certain local governmental entities to register as a lobbyist with the Commission on Ethics (Commission); and
- Provides that local government ordinances that require registration are preempted by the Local Government Lobbyist Registration System established by the Commission.
HB 7005 – Trust Fund/Local Lobbyist Registration by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill, which is linked to HB 7003 above, creates the Local Government Lobbyist Registration System Trust Fund within the Commission. The trust fund’s purpose is to administer the local government lobbyist registration system created by HB 7003, including the payment of salaries and expenses. The bill requires annual lobbyist registration fees collected pursuant to the local government lobbyist registration program to be deposited into the trust fund.
HB 7 – Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Burton
The bill 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). The bill also requires easy online access to property tax TRIM notices and a 4-year history of property tax rates and amounts at the parcel level. This requirement is phased in over 3 years. Further, a 4-year history of property tax rates and total revenue generated at the jurisdiction level must be provided on government websites.
The bill 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. Public notices for proposed tax increases must contain information regarding the rate and total annual amount of revenue expected, the annual additional revenue expressed as a percent of annual general fund revenue, detailed explanation of intended uses of the levy, and an indication of whether or not the tax proceeds will be used to secure debt. Public notices for proposed new, long-term debt issuance must disclose the total lifetime costs of the debt, annual debt service, and effects of the new debt on a government’s debt affordability measures.
Local governments must conduct a debt affordability analysis prior to approving the issuance of new, long-term tax-supported debt. The analysis would, at a minimum, calculate a debt affordability ratio for the most recent five years and at least two projected years to gauge the effects of the new debt issuance on the government’s debt service to revenue profile. The debt affordability ratio is the annual debt service for outstanding tax-supported debt divided by total annual revenues available to pay debt service on outstanding debt.
Currently, local governments are required to have a CPA conduct an annual financial audit, if the Auditor General has not already scheduled an audit. The bill requires the auditor to 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” contained in Part VIII of ch. 218, F.S., created by the bill. The Auditor General must request evidence of corrective action from local governments found not to be in compliance with the Act. Local governments must provide evidence that corrective action has been initiated within 45 days and evidence of completion within 180 days of such request. The Auditor General must report to the Legislative Auditing Committee local governments that do not take corrective action.
The bill revises the local government reporting requirements for economic development incentives. It requires each county and municipality to report to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research whether the incentive was provided directly to an individual business or by another entity on behalf of the local government and the source of local dollars, and any state or federal dollars obligated for the incentive. The bill also revises the statutory classes of economic development incentives.
The Senate will be in Session, 3:30 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following item(s) and others on Special Order (2nd Reading):
SB 4 – Higher Education by Galvano
The bill establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018” to expand financial aid provisions and incentivize postsecondary institutions to emphasize on-time graduation. The bill also expands policy and funding options for state universities to recruit and retain exemplary faculty and enhance the quality of professional and graduate schools. Specifically, the bill:
- Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance programs in the following ways:
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per semester for textbooks, and authorizes use of the award for summer term enrollment as funded by the Legislature.
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Medallion Scholars (FMS) award to an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and specified fees to pay for educational expenses, and authorizes use of the award for summer term enrollment, beginning in 2019, as funded by the Legislature.
- 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 professional and graduate 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.
SB 88 – High School Graduation Requirements by Hukill
The bill specifies financial literacy standards and instruction for students entering grade 9 in the 2018-2019 school year and thereafter. 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.