The Legislature convened the 2018 Legislative Session today with much of the traditional ceremony. In their respective chambers, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran both offered comments highlighting legislative successes in the 2017 Session and outlining in their priorities for the 2018 Session. In his remarks, President Negron touched on several issues including zero tolerance for sexual and workplace harassment, the ongoing recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria, the opioid crisis, and tax relief. With regard to education, President Negron reiterated his ongoing commitment to improving access and quality of post-secondary education, support for expanding school choice, and enhancing career education.
In the House, Speaker Corcoran opened the session with a video highlighting progress on House priorities including, but not limited to promoting government accountability and transparency, abolishing sanctuary cities, and the passage of HB 7069. In his remarks following the video, he stressed his ongoing commitment to holding the line on appropriations, underscoring his pledge that the House would not raise taxes – specifically stating that the House would not increase the Required Local Effort – and would not tap into state reserves this year. In addition, he championed proposed legislation that would create the Hope Scholarships for students who have been the victims of bullying and harassment.
In the Joint Session, Governor Rick Scott delivered his State of the State Address in which he listed many of the accomplishments during his tenure as governor. He specifically mentioned the significant reduction in the state’s debt, tax relief, and the reduction in unemployment and he encouraged legislators to continue to build on those accomplishments. He also spoke at length about the impacts of recent hurricanes and emphasized the need to continue to support Puerto Ricans displaced by Maria. In addition, he highlighted several elements of his budget recommendations, including his recommended increases in K-12 education funding, including funds to support new education programs targeted to support English language learners and computer science instruction.
In addition to these opening day speeches, there were committee meetings and bills under consideration today. Please click on the files below to access our report on today’s events and the schedule of meetings and bills that will be under consideration tomorrow.
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- Clarifies that a home education program is not a school district program and clarifies that the program must register with the district superintendent for compliance with Florida’s school attendance requirements.
- Defines the term “parent” to mean either or both parents of a student, any guardian of a student, any person in a parental relationship to a student, or any person exercising supervisory authority over a student in place of the parent and maintains a home education program.
- Clarifies that the notice to establish a home education program must include the full legal names of the students and requires the district superintendent to accept the notice and immediately register the program.
- Prohibits the district from requiring additional information from the parent of a home education student unless the student participates in a school district program or service.
- Prohibits district superintendents from assigning a grade level to the home education student or including a social security number or any other personal information of the student in any school district or state database unless the student chooses to participate in a school district program or service.
- Clarifies that the parent determines the content of a home education student’s portfolio. The bill also authorizes, but does not require, a school district to provide access to career and technical courses and programs to a home education student and to report those students as full-time equivalent students (FTE) for funding in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
- Requires school districts to notify home education students of the date, time and availability of industry certifications, national assessments and statewide standardized assessments. A home education student must notify the school district of the intent to take the available certificates or assessments.
- Prohibits a school district from further regulating, exercising control over or requiring documentation from parents of home education students beyond the requirements of law.
- Authorizes the district superintendent to refer student nonenrollment cases to a child study team or a case staffing committee. The child study team is required to diligently facilitate intervention services and report to the district superintendent when all reasonable efforts to resolve the nonenrollment are exhausted.
- Prohibits district school superintendents from requiring evidence of a child’s age, prior to admitting the child to kindergarten, when the child meets regular attendance requirements by attending a:
- parochial, religious or denominational school;
- private school supported by tuition charges, endowments or gifts;
- home education program; or
- private tutoring program.
- Clarifies that school district superintendents may only request age information of a child who enrolls in a public school.
- Clarifies that court procedures and penalties for the enforcement of compulsory school attendance may not be instituted against a student’s parent until the school and district comply with the steps to promote and enforce regular school attendance.
- Requires home education students to register their intent to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities prior to participation instead of prior to the beginning date of the season.
- Permits a home education program student to participate in a dual enrollment course without a high school GPA if the home school program student meets a minimum score on a common placement test. The home education program student is required to maintain a minimum GPA for continued enrollment.
[NOTE: The bill was amended to remove a provision that would authorize a home education student to participate in extracurricular activities at any public school in the state rather than to only the public school to which the student would, otherwise, be assigned but the amendment retained a change in the time-frame when the student must register their intent to participate in such activities. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 732 – is similar but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
In the House Appropriations Committee meeting:
HJR 7001 – Supermajority Vote for State Taxes or Fees by Ways & Means — PASSED
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would provide that no state tax or fee may be enacted, authorized, or raised by the legislature except through legislation approved by two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. Any proposed state tax or fee imposition, authorization or increase must be contained in a separate bill that contains no other subject. The joint resolution also specifies that the proposed amendment does not authorize the imposition of any state tax or fee otherwise prohibited by the state Constitution, and does not apply to any tax or fee imposed by, or authorized to be imposed by, a county, municipality, school board, or special district. [NOTE: An amendment was filed by Rep. Moskowitz that would have required a supermajority vote to enact, authorize, raise, or LOWER a tax or fee. This amendment did not pass. This was the only committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SJR 1742 – is comparable, but has not yet been referred to any committees.]
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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 PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 9:00 – 11:00 am, to consider proposed funding project bills.
The Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee will meet, 9:00 – 10:30 am, to consider the following items and others:
SB 560 – Public Meetings and Records/Imminent Litigation by Steube
The bill expands the current public meeting exemption that allows a governmental entity and its attorney to meet privately to discuss pending litigation. Under this bill, the governmental entity and its attorney may also meet to discuss “imminent litigation.” Litigation is defined to be imminent when the entity has received notice of a claim or demand by a party threatening litigation before a court of administrative agency. The attorney must identify the name of the potential claimant or litigant at a public meeting, in addition to meeting other existing requirements. If the imminent litigation does not begin, the transcript of the private meeting must be made part of the public record after a reasonable time or when the underlying statute of limitations expires.
SB 750 – Public Records by Perry
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.
The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, to consider:
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.
- Authorize a school district to change a matrix of services based on the result of an IEP reevaluation.
The House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee will meet, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, to consider:
HB 63 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Edwards
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 not 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 physical restraint techniques, such as:
- 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.
- 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.
HB 495 – School District Price Level Index by Diaz
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.
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 preapprenticeship 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.
HB 827 – Instructional Materials by Donalds
- Expands upon existing opportunities for these opportunities for public review and input on instructional materials by requiring the State Board of Education (SBE) and each district school board to establish procedures by which members of the public can recommend instructional materials for adoption.
- Transfers the responsibility for adopting state instructional materials from the Commissioner of Education to the SBE. Under the bill, the SBE must adopt instructional materials for a given academic subject at a regularly scheduled state board meeting no later than July 1 of the year before the 5-year adoption cycle is scheduled to begin and allow public comment on instructional materials at any meeting in which an adoption is considered.
- Specifies that members of the public must be provided access to, and the opportunity to submit comments on, instructional materials recommended for adoption by state instructional materials reviewers and that any submitted comments related to a specific recommended instructional material must be provided to the SBE as part of its consideration.
- Provides that instructional materials recommended for adoption may be more rigorous than the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), so long as they are aligned with the NGSSS.
- Requires the state instructional materials reviewer affidavit to include a statement that, to the best of the reviewer’s knowledge, instructional materials he or she recommends for adoption are, at a minimum, aligned to the NGSSS.
- Provides that, if the SBE finds that instructional materials fully meet or are more rigorous than the NGSSS, the materials are not subject to preadoption public review procedures by the local school district. However, a district school board may still initiate such procedures if he or she has evidence that the materials are not aligned to the NGSSS or do not meet state adoption criteria or standards.
- Requires that instructional materials purchased using instructional material allocation funds to include professional development and supplemental materials to support high-quality, accurate instruction.
The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will meet, 3:30 – 6:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 697 – Impact Fees by Miller
The bill prohibits any local government from collecting impact fees any time prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy for a building. Certificates of occupancy are issued only after completion of construction and the final inspection showing the construction complies with all applicable building codes.