Several bills of interest will be considered today including, most notably, HJR 1031 relating to term limits for school board members and HB 1279 relating to school district accountability. Please click on the link below to access our report on the outcome of the consideration of these bill and others that were considered today. Tomorrow, legislators will take up bills on several key issues including, among others, visitation of schools by legislators, the McKay Scholarship Program, and tax referenda, Please click on the link below for the schedule and more information about these bills and others coming up tomorrow.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – January 17, 2018“]
In the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee meeting:
HJR 1031 – Limitation of Terms/School Board Members by Fischer – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution to limit terms for school board members by prohibiting incumbent members who have held the office for the preceding eight years from appearing on a ballot for re-election to that office and to provide that time served in that office after 2013 accrues toward the eight-year limitation. [NOTE: School board members Cathleen Morgan (Lee County School Board) and Christopher Cowart (Levy County School Board) provided excellent testimony outlining concerns about the joint resolution, particularly with regard to the retroactive provision in the bill. Several members of the Subcommittee expressed similar concerns and also suggested extending the term limit from 8 years to 12 years. The sponsor, Rep. Jason Fischer, a former member of the Duval County School Board, indicated a willingness to consider these suggestions as the bill moves through the two remaining committees of reference. The Senate companion bill — SJR 194 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference. The Constitution Revision Commission is also considering a similar proposal – Proposal 43 (See our FSBA Analysis of this proposal for more information). Also note that a joint resolution proposed by the Legislature must be passed by three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature.]
HB 1279 – School District Accountability by Sullivan – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
- Requires the Auditor General to contact each district school board with findings and recommendations contained within the Auditor General’s previous operational audit report. The district school board must provide the Auditor General with evidence of the initiation of corrective action within 45 days after the date it is requested by the Auditor General and evidence of completion of corrective action within 180 days after the date it is requested by the Auditor General. If the district school board fails to comply with the Auditor General’s request or is unable to take corrective action within the required timeframe, the Auditor General must notify the Legislative Auditing Committee.
- Requires district school boards, the Florida College System institution board of trustees, and the university board of trustees to conduct an audit overview when an audit contains a finding classified as a material weakness or significant deficiency instead of any significant finding, which is not defined in statute. The audit overview must describe the corrective action to be taken and the timeline for completion.
- Requires school districts with revenues over $500 million to employ an internal auditor. The internal auditors must perform a comprehensive risk assessment every five years and conduct other audits and reviews as the district school board directs to determine:
- the adequacy of internal controls;
- compliance with applicable laws;
- the efficiency of operation;
- the reliability of financial records;
- financial solvency;
- projected revenues and expenditures; and
- the rate of change in the ending fund balance.
- Requires the internal auditor to prepare audit reports and establishes penalties for failure to produce financial records to the internal auditor.
- Requires the DOE’s Inspector General to investigate allegations and reports of possible fraud or abuse made by any member of the Cabinet, any presiding officer of the Senate or House, a chair of a substantive or appropriations committee with appropriate jurisdiction, or a member of the board for which investigation is sought.
- Provides that an individual school board member may request and shall receive any proposed, tentative and official budget documents, including all supporting and background information.
- Requires school districts to report to the DOE total operating costs and classroom instructional expenditures on a school-by-school and aggregate district basis. DOE must calculate the percentage of classroom expenditures to total operating expenditures at school, district and state level. The results must be categorized into peer groups based on the size of each school and district. The DOE must also calculate the average percentage of classroom expenditures to total operating expenditures at the school, district and state level.
- Requires the DOE to develop a fiscal transparency tool that identifies public schools and districts that produce high academic achievement by comparing the ratio of classroom instructional expenditures to total expenditures to student performance measures. The results must be displayed on the DOE website in an easy to use format that allows comparison between schools and districts. Each school district is authorized to post a link to the fiscal transparency tool on the district’s webpage.
- Requires district school boards to increase fiscal transparency by providing graphical representations of summary financial efficiency data and fiscal trend information. The data must provide fiscal trend information for the previous three years at the school and district level and must provide calculations on the:
- ratio of students to teachers and administrators;
- total operating and instructional expenditures per student;
- general administrative expenditures as a percentage of total budget; and
- rate of change in the general fund’s ending fund balance not classified as restricted.
- Requires districts with ending fund balances that fall below the 3 percent threshold for two consecutive years to reduce administration expenditures in proportion to the reduction in the general fund’s ending balance or the reduction in student enrollment, whichever is greater. The bill also prohibits any district school board with an ending fund balance below the 3 percent threshold from making expenditures on out-of-district travel and cellular phones.
- For any district school board that failed to timely pay any current debt or liability during the 2015-16 fiscal year or thereafter, requires the DOE to contract with an independent third party to conduct an investigation of all accounts and records to determine the cause of the deficit, what efforts, if any, were made to avoid the deficit and whether any of the conditions 9 identified in s. 1011.10 have occurred. The investigation must include a detailed review and analysis of documents and records including, but not limited to, budget reports, journal entries, budget methodologies, staff emails, hard copy records, monthly financial statements, quarterly revenue and expenditure reports, finance staff job descriptions and minutes from meetings. The results of the investigation shall include recommendations for corrective action and controls to avoid a reoccurrence of a future budget shortfall. A final report must be provided to the district school board, the department, the Legislative Auditing Committee, and the district’s financial emergency board, if applicable.
- Requires the withholding of district school board member’s and superintendent’s salaries when the district fails to timely pay current debts and liabilities. The salary must be withheld until the issue is addressed.
- Requires district budget amendments to occur at the school board’s next scheduled public meeting. The school board must also provide a full explanation of any budget amendments.
- Repeals the requirement that school districts failing to meet minimum academic performance standards increase emphasis on classroom instruction activities, removes the minimum classroom expenditure calculation, and removes related cross-references because the legislature has not prescribed the minimum academic performance standards required.
- Prohibits appointed, along with elected superintendents, from lobbying school districts for a period of two years after vacating the position.
- Requires prior school board approval for reimbursement of out-of-district travel expenses. Any request for travel outside the state must include an itemized list detailing all anticipated travel expenses. Immediately preceding a request, the public must have an opportunity to speak on the specific travel agenda item.
- Revises school board member salaries to align with beginning teacher salary or the amount calculated by statute, whichever is less.
- Includes district school boards as a governing body with the authority to withhold a portion of an employee’s salary to pay public financial disclosure fines and permits school boards to withhold a portion of the salary to cover administrative costs.
- Prohibits superintendents, along with district school board members, from employing or appointing a relative to work under their direct supervision. However, employees employed prior to the election or appointment of a family member are exempt from this restriction.
- Clarifies that school officers and administrative personnel are subject to ethics standards, including training, reporting procedures, reference requirements and contract requirements.
- Clarifies educational staff disqualified from employment for conviction of certain criminal acts by changing the term “school administrators” to administrative personnel.
[NOTE: Several amendments were adopted today. The summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. The bill contains several provisions that will improve accountability measures, but also includes some troubling provisions. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1804 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 887 – Reading Instruction by Harrell — PASSED
- Requires the DOE’s review of specialization and endorsement coverage areas to consider the award of an endorsement to an individual who holds a certificate issued by an internationally recognized organization that establishes standards for providing evidence-based interventions to struggling readers or who completes a postsecondary program that is accredited by such an organization. Any such certificate must require an individual who completes the certificate or accredited program to demonstrate competence in reading intervention strategies through clinical experience.
- Requires that, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, intensive reading interventions provided pursuant to a school district’s reading plan must be delivered by a teacher who is certified or endorsed in reading. The intensive interventions must incorporate the evidence-based intervention strategies identified by the Just Read Florida Office.
- Requires each district school board professional development system to provide all elementary grades instructional personnel access to training sufficient to earn a reading endorsement consistent with any changes made as a result of the DOE’s review of certification subject area and endorsement requirements.
[NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1306 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1175 – Early Learning Coalitions by Sullivan – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill authorizes an Early Learning Coalition (ELC) to refuse to contract with a school readiness program provider, or revoke the provider’s eligibility to deliver the school readiness program, 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. [NOTE: Today’s amendment added the authority for the ELC to revoke a provider’s eligibility to deliver a school readiness program. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1532 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee meeting:
HB 439 – Public Meetings and Records by Donalds – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
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.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment revised the statement of public necessity that must accompany any public records exemption. This was the first of two committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 560 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 767 – Pay-For-Success Contracts by Ausley — PASSED
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. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1084 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee meeting:
HB 423 – Higher Education by Rodrigues – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
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.
- 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 to submit 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 is provided.
- 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 to adopt an undergraduate block tuition policy for 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.
- Requires 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 enter into an agreement with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for access to individual reemployment assistance wage reports for auditing and evaluation purposes;
- Prohibits ratio of state university students to administrators from exceeding ratio of students to faculty.
- Requires the University of South Florida (USF) to develop and implement a plan for phasing-out the separate accreditation of the USF St. Petersburg and USF Manatee/Sarasota campuses.
[NOTE: The Subcommittee took up and passed a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) for the bill. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the PCS. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 4 – is similar, has passed the Senate, and is in Messages to the House. SB 4 is a priority for Senate President Joe Negron.]
In the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 460 – Postsecondary Fee Waivers by Gainer — PASSED
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. [NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 75 — is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 540 – Postsecondary Education by Hukill — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 831 — is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the House Ways & Means Committee meeting:
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller — AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
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. [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed a prohibition against using impact fees to pay for existing debt. The short summary above reflects the bill as amended. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 324 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
[toggle title=”Coming Up Tomorrow – January 18, 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 Education Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:00 am, to consider the following items and others:
HB 75 – Postsecondary Fee Waivers by Ponder
The bill authorizes Florida College System (FCS) institutions to waive any portion of specified fees that are not covered under the Department of Defense Military Tuition Assistance program. Each FCS institution must report to the State Board of Education the number and value of all fee waivers granted annually.
HB 577 – High School Graduation Requirements by Silvers
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 bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) 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.
The Committee will also conduct a workshop on draft language on oversight/monitoring in scholarship programs.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
SB 750 – Public Records by Perry
The bill prohibits an agency, which includes a wide variety of state and local government entities, from responding to a request to inspect or copy a public record by filing a civil action against the individual or entity making the request.
SB 608 – Public Records/Identity Theft and Fraud Protection Act by Passidomo
The bill creates the Identity Theft and Fraud Protection Act and requires an agency to review information to determine if it is susceptible to use for purposes of identity theft or fraud before making postings to a publicly available website. The bill requires the Division of Library and Information Services of the Department of State to adopt rules establishing uniform standards for agencies in determining the types of information which qualify as information that is susceptible to use for purposes of identity theft or fraud. The bill also requires an agency to establish a policy that allows a person to request removal of an image or a copy of a public record containing information susceptible to use for purposes of identity theft or fraud which is posted on an agency’s publicly available website. Information that an agency may not post on a publicly available website, however, may be posted on a limited access area of the agency’s website which is not available to the general public.
SB 1242 – Carrying of Weapons and Firearms by Steube
The bill adds two broad categories of persons to the statutory list of those who may carry a weapon or firearm without the need for further authorization, such as a concealed weapon or firearms license. One such category is that of persons “engaged in, traveling to, or returning from a lawful outdoor activity such as sporting and leisure activities. In addition, the bill permits a person to carry a firearm or a concealed weapon when traveling to or returning from a motor vehicle, a residence, any place of shelter, or “any other place at which a firearm or weapon may be lawfully possessed.”
The House Government Accountability Committee will meet, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, to consider the following item and others:
HB 317 – Local Tax Referenda by Ingoglia
The bill requires any referendum to levy a discretionary sales surtax, including a school capital outlay surtax, to be held during either a primary or a general election. Any such referendum held during a primary election must be approved by at least 60 percent of electors voting on the ballot question. A referendum held during a general election may be approved by only a majority of electors voting on the question.
The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will meet, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 105 – Resign-to-run Law by Santiago
The bill requires state or local officers who qualify for federal public office to resign from the office they presently hold if the terms or any part thereof will run concurrently. The resignation is irrevocable and must be submitted at least 10 days before the first day of qualifying for the office sought. The resignation is effective on the date the officer takes office, if elected, or the date the officer’s successor is required to take office, whichever is earlier. The failure of an officer to offer his or her resignation constitutes an automatic resignation, effective immediately, from the office he or she presently holds.
HB 6009 – Write-In Candidates by Geller
The bill repeals current law providing a residency requirement for write-in candidates because this was unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
The Senate Rules Committee will meet, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 118 – Visitation of Schools by State Legislators by Hukill
The bill authorizes an individual member of the State Legislature to visit any district school in his or her legislative district, on any day and at any time at his or her pleasure. The bill also clarifies that the district school superintendent’s designee or the school principal’s designee, in addition to the specified district employees in current law, may not limit the duration or scope of the visit or direct the visiting individual to leave the school premises.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet, 4:00 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
SB 564 – McKay Scholarship Program by Young
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 for an eligible student.
- Authorize a school district to change a matrix of services based on the result of an IEP reevaluation.
The House Rules & Policy Committee will meet, 5:30 – 6:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
RPC5 – Date for Convening the 2020 Legislative Session by Rules & Policy
The Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) requires the 2020 regular session of the Legislature to convene on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.