As we close out the first week of the 2018 Legislative Session, it was a fairly quiet day at the Capitol today. The House was in session to consider several bills on 3rd Reading and a few proposals of interest were considered by Constitution Revision Commission Committees. Please click on the links below for our report on outcome of action on these bills and proposals. In addition, please be sure to watch our Legislative Weekly video report that features FSBA Vice President Ida Wright and FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina providing a recap of events during this first week of the session. For more information, you may wish to review the Session Spotlight posts for this week that are available HERE.
Please note that, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there are no legislative meetings scheduled for Monday. We will provide the schedule for Tuesday’s legislative meetings by Monday morning.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings — January 12, 2018“]
In the House Session:
HB 9 – Federal Immigration Enforcement by Metz — READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
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- Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days of the effective date of the Act;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.
- Provides that the provisions of the bill do not apply to the release of information contained in education records of an educational agency or institution, except in conformity with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill — SB 308 – is similar but has not been heard in either of two committees of reference.]
HB 7009 – Workers’ Compensation by Commerce Committee — READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
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.
[NOTE: Currently, there is no current Senate companion bill.]
HB 11 – Government Accountability by Metz — READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
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.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was a technical correction. The Senate companion bill — SB 354 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 7003 – Local Government Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics — READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
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.
[NOTE: There is no clear Senate companion bill, but SB 1534 is comparable but has not yet been referred to any committees of reference.]
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. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1536 – is similar but has not yet been referred to any committees of reference.]
HB 7 – Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Burton — READ 3RD TIME; PASSED THE HOUSE
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 chapter 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. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1426 – is similar but has not yet been referred to any committees of reference.]
[toggle title=”Update: Constitution Revision Commission“]
Several of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Committees met today. Although no education specific proposals were considered, a few proposals of tangential interest were discussed.
In the CRC General Provisions Committee meeting:
Proposal 11 sponsored by Sherry Plymale — PASSED
The proposal amends Article VI, Section 5 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in a partisan primary election for an office if all the candidates for the office have the same party affiliation and the winner will be opposed only by one or more write-in candidates in the general election. [NOTE: This is the second of two committees of reference for this proposal. It is now available for consideration by the full Commission.]
In the CRC Ethics and Elections Committee meeting:
Proposal 56 sponsored by Frank Kruppenbacher — TEMPORARILY POSTPONED
The proposal amends Article VI, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would remove the requirement that a method of public financing for campaigns for statewide office be established by law and to prohibit the expenditure of any public funds on campaigns for state or local elections. [NOTE: Commissioner Kruppenbacher was absent due to illness, so this proposal will be considered at a later date.]
Proposal 62 sponsored by Bill Schifino — TEMPORARILY POSTPONED
The proposal amends Article VI, Section 5 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize a qualified elector who is registered with no party affiliation to vote a primary election ballot of a political party. [NOTE: Although there was agreement that Florida’s primary system is outdated, it was evident that this proposal presented so many concerns that it was unlikely to pass as written. The postponement will allow the sponsor to consider amendments and the proposal may be heard at a later date.]
The next round of CRC Committee meetings is scheduled for January 18-19, 2018. For more information, please visit our Florida CRC page on the FSBA website. This page includes our CHART that provides information and links on the proposals that are of direct or tangential interest to school board members.