The 2017 Legislative Session opened today with much of the usual fanfare and speeches by Governor Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The day began with the Senate Session in which Senate President Joe Negron offered opening comments that highlighted several of the priorities that the Senate will pursue during the Session. Among other topics, he spoke of the “transformative power of higher education” and the desire to de-criminalize youth through civil citations, dispute resolutions, and other measures to make the state juvenile justice system “restorative and redemptive” rather than destructive to future education and career options for these youth. Senator Negron also specifically mentioned his support for legislation relating to religious expression in public schools (SB 436/HB 303 discussed in yesterday’s Session Spotlight). In the House Session, Speaker Richard Corcoran’s opening comments highlighted the strong ethics provisions, the increased transparency in the budget process, and the greater accountability measures that the House has adopted. Speaker Corcoran vowed hold the line on the state budget, to oppose property tax increases, and to pursue an additional homestead exemption. He also stated that the House will fight to end the “unacceptable existence of failure factories where tens of thousands of students are robbed of their dignity and their futures.” During these opening Sessions, both chambers adopted the Proposed Amendment to Joint Rule 2 detailing procedures for the Legislature’s annual budget conference. If this compromise on the differing House and Senate Rules relating to the budget process had not passed, the chambers might have been prevented from reaching agreement in adopting the state budget.
Following these separate House and Senate Sessions, the two chambers convened in a Joint Session for the annual “State of the State” address by Governor Scott. In his remarks, Governor Scott listed several hardships that Florida has endured during the year – two hurricanes, the outbreak of the Zika virus, and tragic shootings at the Pulse nightclub and Ft. Lauderdale Airport – and spoke of the strength, endurance, and selflessness of Floridians. Governor Scott spoke of a booming state economy and emphasized his commitment to continue to create jobs, cut taxes, and diversify the state economy. With regard to education, the Governor encouraged the Legislature to embrace his budget recommendations and continue to increase the state investment in PreK-20 education.
In the afternoon, there were several House and Senate Committee and Subcommittee meetings in which significant education related bills were discussed and debated, including bills addressing school choice, teacher contracts, virtual instruction, civic literacy, and public meetings. Please click the link below for the details on these bills.
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In the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee meeting:
HB 15 – Educational Options by Sullivan – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill expands access to the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP) by expanding student eligibility, expanding the authorized uses of scholarship funds, revising the eligibility requirements of private schools participating in the GSP, and clarifying a student’s eligibility to receive scholarship payments. The bill also expands access to the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program by allowing students to be reported in either the October or February Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) survey, in order to be eligible. The bill also clarifies that the instructional and work experience hours that a transition-to-work student must receive are on a per week basis. In addition, the bill revises the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program in several ways, including:
- increasing the base annual scholarship amount, differentiated by grade level, for students enrolled in eligible private schools;
- increasing the amount of a transportation scholarship for a student who chooses a public school outside their district from $500 to $750;
- allowing a dependent child of a parent who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for a scholarship at any time; and
- providing that a private school that has consecutive years of material exceptions listed in their annual financial reports may be ineligible to participate in the FTC.
The bill appropriates $200 million for Gardiner scholarship funds and $6 million for administrative fees for eligible SFO’s to administer the GSP. The Senate does not have a direct companion to this bill, but there are two comparable Senate bills – SB 902 and SB 1314 – but neither have been heard in any committee.
HB 373 – Education/Teacher Contracts by M. Grant — PASSED
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. The Senate companion – SB 856 – is identical but has not been heard in any committee.
HB 833 – Student Eligibility for K-12 Virtual Instruction by Sullivan — PASSED
The bill revises eligibility provision by removing the requirement that students in 2nd through 5th grades are not eligible for enrollment in part-time virtual instruction unless they were enrolled in public school in the prior year and provides that all K-12 students, including home education and private school students, are eligible for both full-time and part-time virtual instruction options. The bill also removes passage of a specified online content assessment as an option to fulfill the online course requirement. The Senate companion bill – SB 692 – is identical but has not been heard in any committee.
In the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee meeting:
The Subcommittee heard a presentation by DOE on High School Graduation Requirements and Pathways to Graduation and considered the following Proposed Committee Bill (PCB):
PKQ1 – Civic Literacy by PreK-12 Quality – SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL
The bill designates the month of September as “American Founders‘ Month” and provides that it is a priority of the K-20 public education system to prepare students to become civically engaged and knowledgeable adults who make positive contributions to their community. The bill authorizes the Governor to issue a proclamation urging public and private organizations within the state to celebrate the month and encourages all public schools to coordinate instruction on the founding fathers with American Founders’ Month. The bill requires the Just Read, Florida! Office to develop sequenced, content-rich programming to help elementary schools incorporate social studies, science, and fine arts content into literacy skills Instruction. In addition, the bill requires students entering a Florida College System or State University System institution in 2018-2019 or thereafter to demonstrate competence in civic literacy either through a general education civics course or by passing an assessment adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) or the Board of Governors (BOG). The bill also requires the chairs of the SBE and BOG to jointly appoint a faculty committee to develop a new course in civic literacy or revise an existing general education core course and establish competencies and identify outcomes for the course. There is no Senate companion bill currently identified.
In the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee meeting:
SB 914 – Public Meetings by Baxley — PASSED
The bill codifies judicial interpretation and application of the terms: “de facto meeting”, “discussion”, “meeting”, “official act”, and “public business” and specifies that members of a board may participate in “fact-finding” exercises or excursion to research public business – i.e. two or more school board members could visit a school together — or may participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature if:
- The board provides reasonable notice;
- A vote, official act, or an agreement regarding a future action does not occur;
- There is no discussion of “public business” that occurs; and
- There are appropriate records, minutes, audio recordings, or video recordings made and retained as a public record.
In addition, the bill provides that, if there is a gathering of two or more board members where no official acts are taken and no public business is discussed, then no public notice or access is required. The House companion – HB 919 – is identical but has not been heard in any committee. [NOTE: Senator Baxley stated that the bill was intended to codify case law and provide clarification to situations that are acceptable under the Sunshine Law but might otherwise be construed as possible Sunshine Law violations. The bill was supported by representatives of local government entities but opposed by a representative of Common Cause Florida who stated that the bill might “blur the line” rather than clarify. Senator Baxley stated that he was open to suggestions to improve the bill in order to accomplish his stated intentions.]
Several important bills will be considered in meetings tomorrow including, among others, bills relating to charter school funding, public school recess, juvenile justice, local government ethics. Please click the link below for the details on these bills. Please note that the meetings may be viewed via live webcast or archived videos on the Florida Channel – for your convenience, we have also provided a link to the Florida Channel at the top of this Session Spotlight page.
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The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will meet (8:00-11:00 a.m.; 404 HOB) to consider the following items and others:
HB 205 — Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs by Ahern
The bill changes the requirements for a diversion program expunction to allow juveniles who have successfully completed a diversion program for any misdemeanor offense, rather than only a nonviolent misdemeanor offense, to have their nonjudicial arrest records expunged. The bill revises the definition of eligible “diversion programs” and expands the current expunction statute’s application to include all juvenile diversion programs, rather than only Prearrest and Postarrest Diversion Programs. The bill also creates a new section of law to require diversion programs to submit a certification for expunction of a child’s arrest record to the FDLE when the child successfully completes the program for a first-time misdemeanor offense and has not otherwise been charged with, or been found to have committed, a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation. The bill also repeals the FDLE’s authority to charge a $75 fee for an expunction and ensures that a one-time expunction is available. The bill also provides that a child who successfully completes a diversion program for a first-time misdemeanor offense may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge his or her participation in the program, as well as an expunged arrest record under certain circumstances. The bill deletes current law’s requirement that a juvenile expunged record be made available when the juvenile is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency. The Senate companion – SB 196 – is similar and has passed one committee of reference and is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the second committee of reference — Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Committee (see below).
HB 575 — Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Injury by Plasencia
The bill amends s. 836.10, F.S., to prohibit a person from making a threat in a writing or other record, including an electronic record, to kill or do bodily injury to another person; and posting or transmitting, or procuring the posting or transmission of, the threat to the person threatened or in a manner that would allow another person to view the threat. The bill removes the requirement that the written threat be sent to the person threatened or a member of his or her family. The Senate companion bill – SB 262 – is identical but has not been heard in any of the four committees of reference. [NOTE: The bill is filed in response to a recent Second District Court of Appeals opinion highlighting the difficulty of applying s. 836.10, F.S., to threats issued and shared publicly on social media, as such threats may not be communicated directly to any specific person.]
The Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will meet (9:30-11:30 a.m.; 37 SOB) to consider the following item and others:
SB 196 — Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs by Flores
The bill changes the requirements for a diversion program expunction to allow juveniles who have successfully completed a diversion program for any misdemeanor offense, rather than only a nonviolent misdemeanor offense, to have their nonjudicial arrest records expunged. The bill revises the definition of eligible “diversion programs” and expands the current expunction statute’s application to include all juvenile diversion programs, rather than only Prearrest and Postarrest Diversion Programs. The bill also creates a new section of law to require diversion programs to submit a certification for expunction of a child’s arrest record to the FDLE when the child successfully completes the program for a first-time misdemeanor offense and has not otherwise been charged with, or been found to have committed, a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation. The bill also repeals the FDLE’s authority to charge a $75 fee for an expunction and ensures that a one-time expunction is available. The bill also provides that a child who successfully completes a diversion program for a first-time misdemeanor offense may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge his or her participation in the program, as well as an expunged arrest record under certain circumstances. The bill deletes current law’s requirement that a juvenile expunged record be made available when the juvenile is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency. The House companion – HB 205 – is similar and is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (see above).
The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet (9:30-11:30 a.m.; 412 KOB) to consider the following:
Workshop on Expanded Best and Brightest Program
Chair’s Proposed Budget Reductions for Fiscal Year 2017-2018
SB 78 — Public School Recess by Flores
This bill amends s. 1003.455, F.S., relating to physical education, to provide that, in addition to the existing physical education requirements, each district school board must provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5 so that there are at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play recess per day.
SB 376 — Charter School Funding by Simmons
The bill amends s. 1013.62, F.S., relating to charter school capital outlay funding and defines such funding as being derived from revenue derived from the local discretionary millage authority and also state funds IF they are appropriated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). The bill retains the current limit on local capital outlay millage authority at 1.5 mills. With regard to charter school eligibility, the bill:
- Retains all of the current eligibility criteria for charter schools to obtain state capital funding and stipulates that these eligibility requirements would apply to eligibility for funding from both shared local capital outlay revenue and for any state funds that may be provided in the GAA.
- Adds a new requirement that prohibits personal financial enrichment by owners, operators, managers, and other affiliated parties of charter schools.
- Emphasizes that a charter school is not eligible for a funding allocation unless the chair of the governing board and chief administrative officer of the charter school annually certify under oath that the funds will be used solely and exclusively for constructing, renovating, or improving charter school facilities.
- Clarifies that virtual charter schools are not eligible for charter school capital outlay funding.
With regard to the allocation of funds to charter schools, the bill:
- Codifies existing DOE implementation of an additional method to determine the funding allocation for eligible charter schools by adding an equivalent percentage of schools that are eligible under the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
- Provides that the DOE must calculate the shared local capital outlay allocation by dividing the revenue generated from the local discretionary millage authorized under s. 1011.72(2), F.S., and levied by the school board by the sum of the district fixed capital outlay FTE and the FTE for eligible charter schools. This calculated capital outlay allocation per FTE must then be multiplied by the eligible charter school’s FTE to provide a maximum calculated capital outlay allocation.
- Provides that the allocation formula for the shared local capital outlay allocation utilize a weighted funding approach to provide additional funds to charter schools. More specifically:
- An eligible charter school will receive a base allocation of 50 percent of the maximum calculated capital outlay allocation.
- Charter schools will receive an additional 25 percent of the base allocation if the school has a 75% or more free and reduced lunch enrollment or the equivalent or a 25% or more ESE enrollment.
- Charter schools that that meet both criteria would receive an additional 50 percent of the base allocation – i.e. the full maximum allocation.
With regard to the distribution and use of the funds, the bill:
- Requires each school district to distribute 1/12th of the calculated shared local capital outlay funds to eligible charter schools on a monthly basis, beginning in the first quarter of the fiscal year, regardless of whether local funds are available.
- Limits the ability of a charter school governing board to only use charter school capital outlay funds at the charter school that generated the funding.
The House Oversight, Transparency, & Administration Subcommittee will meet (12:00-3:00 p.m.; 17 HOB) to consider the following items and others:
HB 11 — Labor Organizations by Plakon
Revises required information to be included in application for renewal of registration of employee organization; provides for revocation of certification under certain conditions; requires certain employee organizations to recertify as certified bargaining agents; provides nonapplicability with respect to employee organizations that represent or seek to represent certain employees.
HB 163 — Public Records by Burgess
Revises circumstances under which a court must assess & award reasonable costs of enforcement against an agency in a civil action to enforce ch. 119, F.S.; prohibits court from assessing & awarding reasonable costs of enforcement against an agency if certain conditions exist; specifies circumstances under which a complainant is not required to provide certain written notice of public record request.
HB 599 — Public Works Projects by Williamson
Prohibits state & political subdivisions that contract for public works projects from imposing restrictive conditions on certain contractors, subcontractors, or material suppliers or carriers; prohibits state & political subdivisions from restricting qualified bidders from submitting bids or being awarded contracts; provides applicability.
The Senate will be in Session (1:00-3:00 p.m.; Senate Chamber) to consider the following item and others on the 2nd Reading Special Order Calendar:
SB 2 – Higher Education by Galvano
Citing this act as the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017”; revising requirements for the performance-based metrics used to award Florida College System institutions with performance-based incentives; revising the Distinguished Florida College System Institution Program excellence standards requirements; requiring each Florida Community College System institution to execute at least one “2+2” Targeted Pathway articulation agreement by a specified time, etc. [NOTE: This bill is part of Senate President Negron’s priority higher education package.]
The House Appropriations Committee will meet (3:30-6:00 p.m.; 212 KOB) to consider the following items and others:
HB 7021 — Local Government Ethics Reform, by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee
Requires certain candidates for governing body of municipality to file full & public financial disclosure upon qualifying; provides that contractual relationships held by business entities are deemed held by public officers or employees in certain situations; provides ethics training requirements; prohibits certain governing board members from voting in official capacity on specified matters; requires certain governing board members of municipality to file disclosure; provides for future repeal of provisions relating to registration & reporting for lobbying water management districts; requires lobbyists to register with Commission on Ethics before lobbying specified governmental entities; provides civil penalties; requires commission to render advisory opinions under certain conditions.
HB 7023 — Trust Funds/Creation/Local Government Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund, by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee
Creates Local Government Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund within Commission on Ethics; provides for purpose of trust fund & source of funds; provides exemption from service charges; provides for future legislative review & termination or re-creation of trust fund; provides contingent effective date.
The House Ways & Means Committee will meet (3:30-6:00 p.m.; 17 HOB) to consider the following Proposed Committee Bills (PCBs):
WMC1 — Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Ways & Means
The bill contains several elements with an overarching purpose to increase the fiscal transparency of local governments.
WMC2 — Local Government Fiscal Responsibility by Ways & Means
The bill contains several elements intended to increase the fiscal responsibility of local governments.