Several bills of interest will be considered today, including bills relating to local tax referenda, out-of-school suspension, computer coding, and retirement. Please click on the link below to access our report on the outcome of the consideration of these, and other, bills. Tomorrow, legislators will take up bills on several key issues including public meetings and records, early learning, impact fees, postsecondary education, reading instruction, and, most notably, school board member term limits and school district accountability. Please click on the link below for the schedule and more information about these bills and others coming up tomorrow.
In the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response & Preparedness meeting:
The Committee met to approve their Draft Final Report which includes several recommendations for improving Florida’s hurricane response and preparedness. You may review the Final Report HERE.
In the Senate Finance & Tax Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 272 – Local Tax Referenda by Brandes – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill provides that a referendum to adopt or amend a local option discretionary sales surtax, including a school capital outlay surtax, must be held at a general election. [NOTE: The Subcommittee passed a strike all amendment to the bill that removed all references to holding a local government discretionary sales surtax referenda on specified dates and approved by a specified percentage of voters. The short summary reflects the bill as amended. This was the second of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 317 – is comparable and would still allow some alternatives on the dates the election could be held and the vote necessary for passage. HB 317 has passed two of three committees of reference.]
In the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting:
HB 1197 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Ahern – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill establishes a model prearrest diversion program that local entities may, but are not mandated to, adopt. In implementing such a program, representatives from local law enforcement agencies, the program services provider, the public defender, the state attorney, and the clerk of the court, in consultation with other interested stakeholders, have wide latitude to develop the program, including defining eligibility criteria, program implementation and operation, and fees, if any. The bill also expands eligibility criteria for juvenile diversion program expunction. The bill makes participants in all types of juvenile diversion programs eligible for expunction. The individual programs no longer have the discretion to specify whether expunction is available, and a minor who completes any diversion program for any misdemeanor is eligible. The bill requires the diversion programs to submit data regarding participants and nonparticipants in diversion programs to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which must compile and publish the data on its website. [NOTE: Today’s amendment was a technical correction. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1392 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1199 – Public Records/Diversion Programs by Ahern — PASSED
The bill creates a public records exemption for the personal identifying information of an adult who participates in a pre-arrest diversion program established under HB 1197 (above). [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1394 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee meeting:
SB 242 – Developmental Disabilities by Baxley – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill expands the definition of “developmental disability” in statute to include any disorder or syndrome attributable to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed the provision citing the act as “Gabe’s Act”. This was the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 969 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
SM 882 – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program by Campbell — PASSED
This Senate Memorial (SM) urges the U.S. Congress to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). DACA is a program that defers the deportation of illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as children. The program is currently being litigated in federal court and Executive Order No. 13,768 orders federal agencies to end the program by March 5, 2018. [NOTE: A Memorial allows the legislature to express a sentiment to the U.S. Congress, but it has no force of law. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion Memorial – HM 475 – is similar but has not been heard in either of two committees of reference.]
In the Senate Education Committee meeting:
SB 252 – State Employee Higher Education Fee Waivers by Steube — PASSED
The bill modifies, from 6 credit hours per term to 18 credit hours per calendar year, the requirement that state universities and Florida College System institutions waive tuition and fees for state employees, on a space-available basis. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1371 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
SB 496 – Out-of-School Suspension by Baxley – PASSED
The bill revises parents’ rights and school districts’ duties regarding the out-of-school suspension of public school students. Specifically, the bill provides that suspension means out-of-school suspension and:
- Grants parents the right to give public testimony at a district school board meeting during which the board reviews its rules authorizing out-of-school suspension.
- Requires a district school board to review, once every 3 years, its rules authorizing out-of-school suspension during a district school board meeting.
- Specifies that a district school board’s rules authorizing suspension expire if the board does not conduct its review of these rules in accordance with the specified provisions.
- Creates information collection requirements that must include the disability status, race, gender, and rate of recidivism of each student in the district who has received suspension since the district school board’s last review.
[NOTE: This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 563 – is similar but has not been heard in either of two committees of reference.]
SB 654 – Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program by Perry — PASSED
The bill extends the scheduled expiration of the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2021, and appropriates $300,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to the Department of Education for program implementation. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no House companion bill at this time.]
SB 1056 – Computer Coding Instruction by Passidomo – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill promotes opportunities for public middle and high school students to learn computer science taught by qualified teachers. Specifically, the bill:
- Provides a definition for the term “computer science” and requirements for specified instruction relating to computer science;
- Requires certain computer science courses to be included in the Course Code Directory and published on the Department of Education’s website by a specified date;
- Requires school districts to phase in computer science courses in middle and high schools including combination schools in which any of grades 6 through 12 are taught, as follows:
- Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, a school district shall provide at least one computer science course in no less than 4 percent of the district’s total number of middle, high, and combination schools.
- Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, a school district shall provide at least one computer science course in no less than 7 percent of the district’s total number of middle, high, and combination schools.
- Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, a school district shall provide at least one computer science course in no less than 10 percent of the district’s total number middle, high, and combination schools.
- Provides that, notwithstanding this timeframe and percentages outlined above, a school district with 10 or fewer public middle, high, and combination schools shall provide at least one computer science course in at least one middle, high, or combination school no later than the 2020-2021 school year.
- Provides that student enrollment in computer science courses offered by the Florida Virtual School may be used to satisfy the district percentage requirements.
- Provides that a charter school is not required to offer a computer science course; however, enrollment of a charter school’s students in a computer science course may be included in the school district’s percentage calculation.
- Requires school districts to provide access to computer science courses offered by the Florida Virtual School or by other means under certain circumstances;
- Provides that, subject to legislative appropriation, a school district or a consortium of school districts may apply to the department for funding to deliver or facilitate training for classroom teachers to earn an educator certificate in computer science or an industry certification associated with a course identified in the Course Code Directory
- Provides that, subject to legislative appropriation, a classroom teacher who was evaluated as effective or highly effective in the previous school year or who is newly hired by the district school board and has not been evaluated must receive a bonus as follows:
- If the classroom teacher holds an educator certificate in computer science or if he or she has passed the computer science subject area examination and holds an adjunct certificate issued by a school district, he or she shall receive a bonus of $1,000 after each year the individual completes teaching a computer science course identified in the Course Code Directory at a public middle, high, or combination school in the state, for up to 3 years.
- If the classroom teacher holds an industry certification associated with a course identified in the Course Code Directory, he or she shall receive a bonus of $500 after each year the individual completes teaching the identified course at a public middle, high, or combination school in the state, for up to 3 years.
- Provides that, subject to legislative appropriation, the department shall award high-need technology grants to eligible school districts if the funds provided in the Florida digital classrooms allocation are insufficient to meet the costs and the district has no remaining instructional materials funds. The department must establish an application process and eligibility criteria.
- Requires, rather than authorizes, the State Board of Education to adopt rules.
[NOTE: The Committee took up and passed a strike all amendment to the bill that shifted the focus of the bill from “computer coding” to “computer science” and to ensure funding for teacher professional development and certification in computer science. This short summary reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 1090 – Enrollment/Children of Military Personnel/FLVS by Young – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill promotes the enrollment of dependent children of certain active duty military personnel in the Florida Virtual School (FLVS). Specifically, the bill:
- Adds dependent children of active duty military personnel not stationed in the state to the types of students to whom the FLVS must give priority for enrollment.
- Authorizes the FLVS to use the State of Legal Residence Certificate to verify residency for a dependent child of active duty military personnel, and to serve such children directly.
- Requires that funding for participation by such children must be in accordance with the law.
- Adds virtual instruction programs to the list of special academic programs for which a dependent child of active duty military personnel must receive first preference for admission if the child meets the eligibility criteria for such programs.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was a technical correction. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 699 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting:
SB 614 – Participant Local Government Advisory Council by Montford – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill abolishes the Participant Local Government Advisory Council and makes conforming changes due to the abolishment. [NOTE: Today’s amendment changed the effective date from July 1, 2018 to upon becoming a law. This Council was created as an oversight board in the wake of unanticipated liquidity crisis in the Local Government Surplus Funds Trust Fund (Florida PRIME). In its 2017 report, the council expressed that it had achieved all of its objectives, and recommended discontinuing the council. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 6003 – is identical, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House calendar on 2nd Reading.]
In the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 722 – Retirement by Garcia — PASSED
The bill sets the level of the annual cost of living adjustment for all Florida Retirement System pension plan retirees and annuitants beginning July 1, 2018. For the annual cost of living adjustment for a retiree and beneficiary retiring on or after July 1, 2011, with service credit earned before July 1, 2011, the factor calculated may not be a product of less than 2. This will affect all employees hired after July 1991 who would otherwise have cost of living adjustments of less than 2 percent by setting a floor of 2 percent. [NOTE: In 2011 the state replaced the automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) with a formula based system. In practice, the formula would sometimes produce a COLA of 0%. This bill sets a COLA floor of 2% for those hired prior to 2011. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 665 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
SB 780 – Prohibition/Contracting with Scrutinized Companies by Brandes — PASSED
The bill prohibits a company that is on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List or that is engaged in a boycott of Israel from bidding on, submitting a proposal for, or entering into or renewing a contract with an agency or local government entity for goods or services of any amount. The bill also requires a contract with an agency or local governmental entity for goods or services of any amount entered into or renewed on or after July 1, 2018, to contain a provision that allows for the termination of the contract at the option of the awarding body if the company has been placed on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List or is engaged in a boycott of Israel. An agency or local governmental entity is authorized to make a case-by-case exception to this prohibition if certain conditions are met. In addition, the bill requires a company to provide certification that it is not engaging in a boycott of Israel before submitting a bid or entering into or renewing a contract with an agency or local governmental entity. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 545 – is identical and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
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 Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee will meet, 8:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following items and others:
HB 439 – Public Meetings and Records by Donalds
The bill creates an exemption from public meeting requirements when the board or commission of a governmental entity meets in private with the entity’s attorney to discuss imminent litigation to which the entity may in the foreseeable future be a party before a court or administrative agency. The bill:
- Specifies that 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.
- Requires the same conditions to be met that are currently in law for discussions regarding pending litigation.
- Requires an entity’s attorney to identify the name of the potential claimant or litigant at the public meeting at which the attorney advises the entity that he or she desires advice concerning the imminent litigation.
- Creates a public record exemption for the transcript of a meeting at which imminent litigation is discussed. If imminent litigation does not commence, the transcript of the meeting must be made a public record within a reasonable time after the matter underlying the imminent litigation is resolved or upon the expiration of the statute of limitations applicable to such matter, whichever occurs first.
HB 767 – Pay-For-Success Contracts by Ausley
The bill prohibits an agency from entering into a pay-for-success contract until the state agency head determines with reasonable certainty that the contract will result in quantifiable public benefits and monetary savings to the state or a local government by reducing or avoiding costs, increasing economic productivity, or improving client outcomes. The bill specifies requirements that each pay-for-success contract must meet.
The House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee will meet, 9:30 – 11:30 am, to consider the following item:
HB 423 – Higher Education by Rodrigues
The bill establishes the “Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018”. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies state university performance funding metrics and requires the Board of Governors (BOG) to develop and implement a performance agreement with each university, establishing baseline benchmarks unique to each university.
- Requires the BOG to work with each university to establish 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 4-year improvement benchmarks for determining eligibility for performance funding.
- Requires the BOG, in consultation with the state universities, to submit to the Governor, Senate President and Speaker a plan for transitioning from the current partial performance-based funding model to a complete performance-based continuous improvement funding model focused on outcomes.
- Revises excellence standards for the Preeminent State Research Universities Program.
- Revises requirements for SUS institution direct-support organizations (DSO).
- Expands the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses and the Florida Bright Futures Medallion Scholars award to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees.
- Authorizes the use of the Bright Futures Scholarship during the summer-term if funding provided in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
- Expands eligibility for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program to include eligible out-of-state students.
- Revises the state-to-private match requirements for the First Generation Matching Grant Program.
- Establishes the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program for farmworkers and their children.
- Requires each state university board of trustees to adopt an undergraduate block tuition policy for implementation beginning fall 2019.
- Establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program to 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 and excellence of state university programs in medicine, law, and business.
- Revises the statewide articulation agreement to include a reverse transfer agreement for Florida College System (FCS) associate in arts degree (AA) transfer students who transfer to a state university prior to earning the AA degree.
- Allows FCS institutions to require students to take the college placement test for diagnostic purposes.
- Requires the BOG to match certain student information with state and federal educational and employment records and to enter into an agreement with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that allows access to individual reemployment assistance wage reports for auditing and evaluation purposes;
- Requires that the ratio of state university students to administrators may not exceed the ratio of students to faculty.
- Requires the University of South Florida (USF) to develop and implement a plan for phasing-out the separate Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation of the USF St Petersburg and USF Manatee/Sarasota campuses.
The House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee will meet, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, to consider the following items:
HB 887 – Reading Instruction by Harrell
- Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, requires teachers who provide reading interventions under a school district’s K-12 comprehensive reading plan to be certified or endorsed in reading;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE), as part of its review of certain certification and endorsement requirements, to consider awarding a reading endorsement to teachers who are certified by an internationally recognized reading intervention organization or who complete a program accredited by the organization; and
- Requires school districts to provide teachers access to training for a reading endorsement consistent with the DOE’s review of endorsement requirements.
HJR 1031 – Limitation of Terms/School Board Members by Fischer
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution, subject to approval by 60 percent of the voters in the 2018 general election or a special election called for the purpose of voting on the amendment, that limits service as a district school board member to two four-year terms, regardless of whether the terms are consecutive. The joint resolution specifies that time served as a board member before the election following ratification of the amendment must be counted toward the two-term limit. The joint resolution also provides that if a member resigns before completing two terms and subsequently seeks election to the school board, the time served before resignation constitutes one four-year term of office. [NOTE: A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the State Constitution must be passed by three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature.]
HB 1175 – Early Learning Coalitions by Sullivan
The bill authorizes an Early Learning Coalition (ELC) to refuse to contract with a school readiness program provider if the provider has been cited for a class I violation. Class I violations are the most serious in nature, pose an imminent threat to a child including abuse or neglect and which could or does result in death or serious harm to the health, safety or well-being of a child.
HB 1279 – School District Accountability by Sullivan
To increase fiscal transparency of educational spending, the bill:
- Requires school boards to provide financial efficiency data and fiscal trend information;
- Requires the Department of Education to develop a web-based tool that identifies schools and districts with high academic achievement based on per pupil expenditures; and
- Requires school boards to provide a full explanation of, and approve, any budget amendment at the boards’ next public meeting.
To increase fiscal accountability of districts, the bill:
- Requires school districts with revenues over $500 million to employ an internal auditor;
- Requires school districts with low ending fund balances to reduce administrative costs and other expenditures;
- Requires districts in a financial emergency to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members until the emergency is addressed;
- Clarifies that the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General must investigate allegations and reports of fraud and abuse from certain government officials; and
- Requires the Auditor General to perform follow-up procedures to determine a school board’s progress in addressing audit findings.
The bill also:
- Prohibits appointed, along with elected superintendents, from lobbying school districts for a period of two years after vacating the position;
- Aligns school board member salaries with beginning teacher salary or the amount calculated by statute, whichever is less;
- Requires prior school board approval for reimbursement of out-of-district travel expenses;
- Requires school boards to withhold a portion of an employee’s salary who owes a public financial disclosure fine;
- Repeals s. 1011.64, F.S., relating to school district minimum classroom expenditure requirements; and
- Prohibits superintendents, along with district school board members, from employing or appointing a relative to work under their direct supervision.
The Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, to consider the following items:
SB 460 – Postsecondary Fee Waivers by Gainer
The bill authorizes a Florida College System (FCS) institution to waive certain fees for a person who is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces and using military tuition assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.
SB 540 – Postsecondary Education by Hukill
The bill creates the “Community College Competitiveness Act of 2018” which restructures the governance of the Florida College System and modifies the mission of the system and its institutions. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the governance of the Florida Community College System (FCCS) by:
- Renaming the Florida College System as the FCCS; and
- Establishing a State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC), and transferring specified responsibilities from the State Board of Education to the SBCC.
- Clarifies expectations and oversight of baccalaureate degree programs offered by community colleges, and:
- Modifies the baccalaureate approval process for all community colleges.
- Establishes a 20 percent cap on upper-level, undergraduate full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at each community college, and a 10 percent cap on upper-level, undergraduate FTE enrollment for the FCCS, and specifies conditions for planned and purposeful growth of baccalaureate degree programs.
- Establishes the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities.
- Establishes the Supporting Students for Academic Success program to fund the efforts of community colleges in assisting students enrolled in an associate in arts (AA) degree program to complete college-credit courses, graduate with an AA degree, and transfer to a baccalaureate degree program.
- Modifies the community college performance accountability metrics and standards to promote on-time student graduation.
- Enhances transparency and accountability of community college direct-support organizations.
The House Ways & Means Committee will meet, 4:00 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller
The bill prohibits any local government from collecting impact fees any time prior to issuing a building permit. The bill codifies the requirement for impact fees to bear a rational nexus both to the need for additional capital facilities and to the expenditure of funds collected and the benefits accruing to the new construction. Local governments will be required to designate the funds collected by the impact fees for acquiring the capital facilities to benefit the new residents. Impact fees collected by a local government may not be used to pay existing debt or pay for prior approved projects unless such expenditure has a rational nexus to the impact generated by the new construction.
In addition to these legislative meetings, the State Board of Education will be meeting, 9:00 am – completion of business, to consider several items of interest, including new rules guiding the implementation of several provisions contained in HB 7069. The Agenda is available HERE.