As we near the mid-way point of the Legislative Session, several bills of interest are completing the process of being considered by the committees and subcommittees to which the bills have been referred and are making their way onto the Calendar for consideration on the chamber floor. For those who are unfamiliar with the legislative process, it might be helpful to offer have a quick overview of how bills move through the process of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Reading:
1st Reading – 1st Reading is usually accomplished by publication in the chamber’s Journal. The Speaker or President then refers the bill to one or more committees/subcommittees having oversight of the subject of the bill. The committee/subcommittee chair has the responsibility for setting the agenda for their committee/subcommittee and, therefore, determines if and when a bill will be considered. Bills may only be heard in one committee at a time and must be heard in the committees in order of reference. Once the bill has passed favorably in all of the committees of reference, the bill is placed on the Calendar and is available for 2nd Reading.
2nd Reading — Even after a bill has been placed on the Calendar, it still may not ever be considered on the floor of the chamber. In order to be considered on the floor, the bill must first be placed on the Special Order Calendar – this is, essentially, the agenda for that day’s Session. Placement on the Special Order Calendar is typically done by the Rules Committee (Senate) or Rules and Policy Committee (House). 2nd Reading occurs when a bill on the Special Order Calendar is called up for consideration, read, explained, and amended (as needed). Amendments to bills on 2nd Reading are passed by a majority vote and, if amendments are adopted, the bill is ordered to be “engrossed” which means that the amendments are incorporated into the text of the bill. Once this process is complete, the bill is available for 3rd Reading.
3rd Reading: — 3rd Reading usually occurs at least one day after 2nd Reading. The bill is read, explained, any amendments are considered – approval of an amendment at this stage requires a 2/3 vote – and the bill is debated. The sponsor may then make a closing statement prior to voting on passage of the bill in that chamber. Passage of a bill requires a majority vote. Once this process is complete, the bill is available for consideration in the other chamber and the whole process of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Reading of the bill begins again in the other chamber – though often on a more abbreviated schedule. Once the bill reaches the floor of the second chamber, the chamber typically calls up its own companion bill and considers both versions together and the two versions of the bill are amended and merged into a single bill. This is necessary because, ultimately, both chambers must pass exactly the same bill in order for the bill to pass the Legislature. Most bills that pass the Legislature are then presented to the Governor for approval or veto.
There are many details to this process that are not outlined here. For more information on this, and other aspects of the legislative process, please see Understanding the Legislative Process on our Advocacy Tools page.
Please click the links below for our reports on bills that were under consideration today and those that will be taken up on Thursday.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – March 22, 2017“]
In the House Government Accountability Committee meeting:
HB 11 — Labor Organizations by Plakon – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill requires an employee organization to include the following information in its annual financial report for each certified bargaining unit that the organization represents:
- The number of employees in the bargaining unit who are eligible for representation by the employee organization; and
- The number of employees who are represented by the organization, specifying the number of members who pay dues and the number of members who do not pay dues.
The bill provides that, if a registered employee organization does not submit this information for a certified bargaining unit it represents, the organization’s certification for that unit is revoked. In addition, the bill requires an employee organization that has been certified as the bargaining agent for a unit whose dues-paying membership is less than 50% of the employees eligible for representation in that unit to petition the commission for recertification as the exclusive representative of all employees in the unit within one month after the date on which the organization applies for registration renewal. The certification of an employee organization that does not comply with this requirement is revoked (these last two provisions do not apply to an employee organization that represents law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or firefighters). [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1292 – is identical, but has not been heard in any of the four committees of reference.]
HB 479 – Government Accountability by Metz – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill amends statutes pertaining to government accountability and auditing. Of particular interest to school boards, 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 to detect abuse, fraud, and waste;
- Revises the composition of auditor selection committees;
- Prohibits an audit committee member from being an employee, a chief executive officer, or a chief financial officer of the respective governmental entity;
- Requires the chair of a governmental entity’s governing body to submit an affidavit containing certain information when the entity contracts with an auditor to conduct an audit;
- Provides requirements and procedures for selecting an auditor;
- Requires the Legislative Auditing Committee to determine whether a governmental entity should be subject to state action under certain circumstances;
- Requires completion of an annual financial audit of the Florida Virtual School;
- Requires a local governmental entity, district school board, charter school, or 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 state agency and judicial branch employees under certain circumstances; 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 made some technical changes and added provisions relating to the selection of an auditor and the authority of the Legislative Auditing Committee. This short summary reflects these changes. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 880 – is similar and has passed one of the three committees of reference.]
HB 599 – Public Works Projects by Williamson – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED
The bill prohibits the state or a political subdivision, except when required by state or federal law, from requiring a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier engaged in a public works project to:
- Pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or prescribe any wage rate;
- Provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits;
- Control, limit, or expand staffing; or
- Recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated, restricted, or single source.
In addition, the bill provides that the state or a political subdivision that contracts for a public works project may not prohibit a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier from submitting a bid on the project or being awarded the relevant contract if such individual is otherwise qualified to do the work described. This provision does not apply to vendors that have been convicted of a public entity crime or have been found to have committed discrimination. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 534 – is identical and passed the second of three committees of reference today (see Senate Government Oversight & Accountability meeting below).]
HB 7021 — Local Government Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
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. Of particular interest to school boards, the bill creates or amends ethics provisions related to the following:
- Corrects an oversight with respect to the Code’s prohibition on conflicting employment or contractual relationships;
- Strengthens the law on voting conflicts of interest by requiring local officers that must abstain from voting on a measure due to a voting conflict of interest to disclose the conflict prior to participating in the measure;
- Requires each officer subject to the annual ethics training requirement to provide the training provider’s name on his or her annual financial disclosure form;
- Adds school districts to the list of governmental entities that may withhold salary-related payments for failure to timely file disclosure of financial interests;
- Requires a person who wishes to lobby certain local governmental entities, including school districts, to register as a lobbyist with, and pay a registration fee to, the Commission on Ethics;
- Expands the duties of the Commission on Ethics to include rendering advisory opinions.
[NOTE: The Committee took up and passed a strike-all amendment that raised some concerns and a great deal of discussion that focused mainly on the provisions relating to local government lobbyist registration. The amendment clarifies that the local government lobbyist registration would be pre-empted to the state and the lobbyist registration fees collected would REPLACE local lobbyist registration fees. This pre-emption applies only to the lobbyist registration. A local government could, at its discretion, adopt policies governing the conduct of lobbyists, lobbyist compensation, appearance records, orientation and training activities, etc., and the local government could charge a separate fee to support the administration of these policies, but the registration process itself would be conducted at the state level by the Commission on Ethics. In addition, the amendment establishes some exemptions the lobbyist registration requirements for certain individuals, including those under contract with the local government for consulting services and those acting as expert witnesses. The amendment also caps the lobbyist registration fee at $20 per principal per county per year. This registration and registration fee would serve as registration and fee for all other local government entities within the county. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. Currently, there is no Senate companion for this bill.]
HB 7023 — Local Government Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates the Local Government Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund within the Commission on Ethics. The trust fund’s purpose is to administer the Local Government Lobbyist Registration System, with annual registration fees collected to fund the administration of the program, including the payment of salaries and expenses. [NOTE: This bill is linked to, and contingent upon passage of, HB 7021 discussed above. Today’s amendment was technical in nature and does not change the substance of the bill.]
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting:
SB 148 — Students Remaining on School Grounds During School Hours by Garcia — PASSED
The bill authorizes district school boards to adopt policies for allowing students to leave school grounds during school hours, with some exceptions. Specifically, the bill:
- Clarifies that district school board procedures for granting permission for students to leave school grounds during school hours includes the school lunch period; and
- Provides that in a district that has more than 100,000 students in prekindergarten through grade 12, a school may not permit a student to leave school grounds for the lunch period unless the student’s parent has, in writing, consented for his or her child to leave school grounds during the lunch period for the school year.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 85 – is similar but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 534 – Public Works Projects by Perry – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill prohibits the state and its political subdivisions that contract for public works projects from imposing restrictive conditions on certain contractors, subcontractors, or material suppliers or carriers, except as otherwise required by federal or state law. Specifically, the state or political subdivision that contracts for a public works project may not require that a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier engaged in the project:
- Pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or prescribe any wage rate;
- Provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits;
- Control, limit, or expand staffing; or
- Recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated, restricted, or single source.
The bill specifies that public works projects include only those projects for which 50 percent or more of the cost will be paid from state-appropriated funds. The bill also prohibits the state or a political subdivision from restricting a qualified contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier from submitting a bid on any public works project. [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed language relating to awarding a contract, subcontract, material order, or carrying order. This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 599 – is similar. It was temporarily postponed in its last committee of reference earlier today (see the House Government Accountability Committee meeting above) with an amendment pending that, if passed, would make the House and Senate versions of the bill identical.]
SB 1540 – Department of Management Services by Brandes – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates the Statewide Procurement Efficiency Task Force for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and value of state and local procurement laws and policies to the taxpayers of this state and determining where inconsistencies in such laws and policies exist. The task force shall be composed of 11 members including the Secretary of Management Services, two members appointed by the President of the Senate, two members appointed by the Speaker of the House, and six members appointed by the Governor. A school board member must be among those appointed by the Governor. Task force members must be appointed by July 1, 2017. The task force must submit a final report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by July 1, 2018. The report must, at a minimum, include recommendations for consideration by the Legislature to promote procurement efficiency, streamline procurement policies, establish best management practices, and encourage increased use of state term contracts. [NOTE: Today’s amendments directed the Department of Management Services to prepare a plan regarding the centralized management of state-owned motor vehicles and revised requirements for DMS rules regarding terms and conditions in lease agreements in which the state is the lessee. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion – HB 1281 – is similar but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee meeting:
SB 278 – Local Referenda by Steube – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill provides that a referendum to adopt or amend a local government discretionary sales surtax, including a school capital outlay surtax, must be held:
- At a primary election and requires approval of 60 percent of the voters voting on the ballot question for passage; or
- At a general election and requires the approval of a majority of the voters voting on the ballot question for passage.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment removed the requirement that the referendum could only be held during a general election and replaced it with the options outlined above. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 139 – is similar (though it still contains the provision that the referendum must be held in a general election) and has passed the first of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting:
SB 1330 – Weapons and Firearms by Stargel – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill relates to concealed weapons and firearms on private school property to specify that concealed weapon and concealed firearm licensees are not prohibited from carrying such weapons or firearms on private school property under a specified circumstances. [NOTE: The bill was amended to narrow the focus of the bill and this short summary reflects these changes. It is important to note that the effect of this bill is limited by other state and federal laws regulating weapons and firearms. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 849 – is similar and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
SB 612 – Federal Matching Funds Information by Gibson — PASSED
The bill requires each state agency and the judicial branch to include the following information in its annual legislative budget request for each appropriation category:
- An identification of each program that receives some, but does not maximize available federal matching funding.
- An identification of the amount of state or local funds that would be required to maximize the amount of federal matching funds provided to the state.
- A listing of federal programs that the agency or judicial branch does not participate in, but for which the agency could receive federal funding by participating in such programs.
- An estimate of the amount of federal funds the agency or state does not draw down as a result of non-participation in the federal match programs identified.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 417 – is identical but has not been heard in either of the two committees of reference.]
[toggle title=”Coming Up Tomorrow – March 23, 2017“]
Please note that the meetings listed below may be viewed via live webcast or archived videos on the Florida Channel. Also, 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 am-12:00 pm; 102 HOB) to consider the following items and others:
HB 303 — Religious Expression in Public Schools by Daniels
The bill authorizes a student to:
- Express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments free from discrimination.
- Wear jewelry that displays a religious message or symbol to the same extent as secular types of jewelry that displays messages or symbols are permitted.
- Engage in and organize religious groups before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that secular student organizations and groups are permitted.
In addition, the bill requires a school district to:
- Allow a religious group the same access to the same school facilities for assembling as given to a secular group and allow a religious or secular group to advertise or announce its meetings.
- Permit school personnel to participate in religious activities on school grounds that are student-initiated and at reasonable times before or after the school day as long as the activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the duties and responsibilities of such school personnel.
The bill also provides that these provisions may be enforced pursuant to provisions relating to attorney’s fees and costs set forth in Chapter 761 F.S. — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 436 – is similar and is on 3rd Reading in the Senate Session today.]
HB 373 – Education/Personnel Contracts by M. Grant
The bill clarifies that the district must issue contracts on an annual basis and may not award — or alter or limit its authority to award — an annual contract to instructional personnel based on a contingency or condition. The bill specifies that the provisions of the bill apply only to collective bargaining agreements entered into or renewed by a district school board on or after the bill is enacted. [NOTE: This is the last committee 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 591 — Maximum Class Size by Massullo
The bill removes the exemptions for class size requirements and maintains class size compliance for each classroom but revises the method for calculating the penalty to be at the school average for any school that fails to comply with class size requirements. The bill repeals an increase in the penalty for failure to comply with the class size requirements and provides that a district may not have its class size categorical allocation reduced for the 2017-18 or 2018-19 fiscal years if it meets certain requirements. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 808 – is identical and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 781 — Designation of School Grades by Porter
Under current law, a school that serves any combination of K-3 students, that does not receive a school grade as a result of its students not being tested and included in the school grading system, receives the school grade of a K-3 feeder pattern school if at least 60% of the students are assigned to the graded school. The bill revises the number of students required to establish a school feeder pattern from 60% to a majority. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1222 – is similar but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
HB 827 — Teacher Bonuses by Porter
Under current law, individual teachers of IB, AICE, AP, and CAPE courses are awarded bonuses – capped at either $2,000 or $3,000 per year — from portions of the additional funds for students who achieve specific result in the course. The bill removes the annual teacher bonus limits for these courses. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. There is no Senate companion bill.]
HB 1109 — Private School Student Participation in Extracurricular Activities by Antone
The bill revises private school student eligibility to participate in interscholastic and intrascholastic extracurricular activities by allowing a student in a non-FHSAA member private school to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic activities at the school where the student could choose to attend pursuant to controlled open enrollment, in addition to the student’s zoned school which is currently permitted by law. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1302 – has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
The House Judiciary Committee will meet (9:00 am-12:00 pm; 404 HOB) to consider the following item and others:
HB 849 — Concealed Weapons and Firearms on Private School Property by Combee
Under current Florida law, and subject to limited exceptions, a person — including a person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm (licensee) – is prohibited from carrying a weapon or firearm at a school. The term “school” is defined in law to mean “any preschool, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic.” The only person excepted from this prohibition is a law enforcement officer. However, current law does not prohibit, or even address, carrying a concealed weapon to a church or religious institution. The bill would amend current law to authorize a licensee to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm on private school property if a religious institution is also located on the property. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1330 – is similar and has passed the first of three committees of reference. It is important to note that the effect of this bill is limited by other state and federal laws regulating weapons and firearms.]
The Senate will be in Session (10:00 am-12:00 pm; Senate Chamber) to consider the following items and others:
Bills on 3rd Reading:
SB 436 – Religious Expression in Public Schools by Baxley
- Requires that students’ course work be graded according to the expected academic standards, without regard for any religious content.
- Provides that, if students in a given school setting are permitted to wear clothing, jewelry, or accessories that display a secular message or symbol, then students may also wear items displaying religious messages or symbols.
- Authorizes students to express themselves in a religious manner, and to engage in and organize religious activities to the same extent as secular expressions and activities are permitted.
- Provides that school districts may not discriminate against their employees on religious grounds.
- Provides that school personnel may not be barred from joining in certain types of student-initiated religious activities under certain circumstances – i.e. the activity must be on school grounds, occur at reasonable times before or after school, be voluntary, and not conflict with the duties of the employee joining the student-initiated activity.
- Requires school districts to permit religious groups access to the same facilities for assembly that it permits such access to secular groups.
In addition, the bill requires school districts to adopt a policy establishing a “limited public forum” for student speakers at certain school events. The policy must include or be comprised entirely of the model limited public forum policy that the bill requires the Florida Department of Education to develop and publish. [NOTE: The House companion bill — HB 303 – is being considered in its last committee of reference today (see House Education Committee meeting above).]
Bills on 2nd Reading:
SB 80 – Public Records by Steube
The bill requires a court to award attorney fees and enforcement costs in actions to enforce public records laws if the court determines that an agency unlawfully refused access to a public record and the plaintiff provided written notice identifying the public records request to an agency records custodian at least 5 business days before filing the action. However, if the court determines that a plaintiff requested records or filed the enforcement action based on an improper purpose, the court must award reasonable costs and attorney fees against the plaintiff. An improper purpose is one in which a person requests records mainly to harass an agency, cause a violation of the public records law, or for frivolous purpose. [NOTE: The House companion bill — HB 163 – is similar and has passed two of the three committees of reference.]