At mid-day today, FSBA participated in a press conference announcing bi-partisan support for SB 964 relating to assessment and accountability. The bill is sponsored by Senator Bill Montford and co-sponsored by Senators Tom Lee, Debbie Mayfield, Rene Garcia, Linda Stewart, and Audrey Gibson. The legislation infuses common sense into our assessment and accountability system without sacrificing high standards. Speakers at today’s press conference stressed an ongoing commitment to education accountability, but acknowledged that it was time to take a careful look at the state’s system and consider making necessary changes to better serve students and respond to concerns raised by parents, citizens and the education community. The bill recommends fewer and better tests, revisions to test administration and reporting, changes to the performance evaluations for teachers and administrators, and modifications to school grading and accountability. For more details on this bill, please click HERE to access a short summary of the bill’s key elements that was prepared by Senator Montford’s office.
There were several bills of interest considered in committee meetings today. Of particular interest, the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee considered SB 376 relating to charter school funding and SB 78 relating to public school recess. Please click on the link below for reports on these and other bills of interest.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings“]
In the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 376 — Charter School Funding by Simmons — PASSED
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.
[NOTE: Several amendments had been filed by Senator Farmer. The first of these would have restored local capital outlay millage authority to 2.0 mills. In extended discussion, the bill sponsor, Senator Simmons, restated his understanding of the predicament most school districts are currently in due to the loss/lack of capital funding. He repeated his hope that the millage authority could be restored and said he will continue to work to find a pathway that would be acceptable to the House. Senator Farmer said he would continue to trust in Senator Simmons efforts and withdrew the amendment. For similar reasons, Senator Farmer also withdrew an amendment that would cap the total capital outlay allocation from local millage revenue that would be available to charter schools and an amendment that would place the allocation of local revenue at the discretion of the school board. Two other amendments were put to a vote and failed to pass. The first was an amendment that would have prohibited an allocation to a charter school that did not meet certain eligibility requirements and the second would have removed the requirement that that school districts distribute funds to the charter school even if the capital funds were not available and, thus, force the district to take funds from another source. The bill passed without any amendment.]
SB 78 — Public School Recess by Flores – PASSED
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. The House companion – HB 67 – is identical but has not been heard in any committee. [NOTE: Concerns were expressed as to what current instruction or programs would need to be eliminated in order to accommodate the time devoted to recess.]
In the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting:
HB 205 — Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs by Ahern – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill amends s. 943.0582, F.S., to change the existing process for the expunction of a juvenile’s non-judicial arrest record for a nonviolent misdemeanor offense to provide that:
- Expunction is available for any of the diversion programs established in Chapter 985, F.S., (i.e. Pre-arrest and Post-arrest Diversion Programs, Juvenile Civil Citation Programs, Neighborhood Restorative Justice Programs, and Community Arbitration Programs) rather than only pre-arrest and post-arrest diversion programs.
- A one-time expunction is available for any first-time misdemeanor when the program is successfully completed and it is no longer necessary for the agencies operating the diversion program to generally authorize expunctions for the program.
- The diversion program is required to submit to the FDLE a certification for expunction when a juvenile successfully completes the program under specified circumstances, instead of requiring the juvenile to apply for expunction.
- A fee may not be assessed by the FDLE for the expunction (currently $75).
- A juvenile may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge successful participation in a diversion program and expunction for a first-time misdemeanor for purposes of criminal justice agency employment.
In addition, the bill provides that diversion programs must submit data regarding participants and nonparticipants in diversion programs to the Department of Juvenile Justice, which is required to compile and publish the data on its website. The Senate companion – SB 196 – is similar which was heard today in the Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Committee (see below). [NOTE: The Subcommittee took up a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) and this short summary reflects the provisions of the PCS. The PCS departs from its original content to focus more on expanding opportunities for the expunction of juvenile arrest records rather than expanding the civil citation program. The bill specifically deletes a provision in the original version that would have mandated that a law enforcement officer issue a civil citation for first time juvenile offenders (rather than the current discretion of issue a civil citation). As a result, there is no longer the same level of similarity to SB 196. During the extensive discussion and testimony, it was suggested that the provisions of the PCS be added to the original version of the bill rather than replacing the original bill. There were comments both in support and opposition to a mandatory civil citation program and suggestions were made to further improve the bill. Related news article: “About half of Fla. juvenile offenders qualify for civil citations“]
HB 575 — Threats to Kill or Do Bodily Injury by Plasencia – PASSED
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 Subcommittee took up a Proposed Committee Substitute for the bill and this short summary reflects that PCS. In discussion and testimony today, specific mention was made to the chain of events that is triggered in a school district if a threat is made in social media or other venue, including the potential for lock-down or evacuation.]
In the Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
SB 196 — Juvenile Civil Citation and Similar Diversion Programs by Flores—AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE
The bill requires a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or require the juvenile’s participation in a similar diversion program when the juvenile admits to committing one of a specified list of misdemeanor offenses for the first time. The bill permits a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or require the juvenile’s participation in a similar diversion program when the juvenile admits to committing a misdemeanor offense not enumerated in the bill or a committing a misdemeanor offence for the second or third time, or has a pending felony charge. If an arrest is made in such cases, the officer must document the reasons for the arrest. The House companion – HB 205 – originally was similar to this bill, but was amended today in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee (see above). [NOTE: The Subcommittee took up a Strike-All amendment to the bill that generally cleaned up some flaws in the original bill. This summary reflects the bill as amended. As with SB 205, this bill was extensively discussed. While there was support for the civil citation process, there were concerns expressed by the mandatory nature of this bill that was thought to undermine the discretion of law enforcement officers.]
In the House Oversight, Transparency, & Administration Subcommittee meeting:
HB 11 — Labor Organizations by Plakon — PASSED
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.
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 (this provision does not apply to an employee organization that represents law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or firefighters). The bill also 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 (again, this requirement does not apply to an employee organization that represents law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or firefighters).
HB 163 — Public Records by Burgess — PASSED
The bill provides that a court must assess and award the reasonable costs of public records enforcement actions, including reasonable attorney fees, against the responsible agency if it determines that the agency unlawfully refused to permit the public record to be inspected or copied AND the complainant provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 days before filing the civil action. The bill specifies that the complainant is not required to provide written notice of the public record request if the agency does not prominently post the contact information for the agency’s custodian of public records in the agency’s primary administrative building in which public records are routinely created, sent, received, maintained, and requested and on the agency’s website, if the agency has a website. The bill provides an exemption of the award of reasonable costs by providing that a court may not assess and award any reasonable costs of enforcement, including reasonable attorney fees, against the agency if the court determines that the request to inspect or copy the public record was made primarily to harass the agency or cause a violation of Chapter 119, F.S. The Senate companion – SB 246 – is similar but has not been heard in any committee. [NOTE: This bill is intended to address the “nuisance” public records requests that have plagued some local governments. A third version of this bill — SB 80 – has been moving in the Senate but has strong opposition from the public records advocates.]
HB 599 — Public Works Projects by Williamson – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates s. 255.0992, F.S., relating to public works projects. The bill defines the terms and 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. The Senate companion – SB 534 – is similar and is moving in the Senate.
In the Senate Session:
SB 2 – Higher Education by Galvano – READ 2ND TIME; AMENDED; PLACED ON 3RD READING FOR 3/9/17
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.]
In the House Appropriations Committee meeting:
HB 7021 — Local Government Ethics Reform, by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee –PASSED
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 the Commission on Ethics;
- Expands the duties of the Commission on Ethics to include rendering advisory opinions.
HB 7023 — Trust Funds/Creation/Local Government Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund, by Public Integrity & Ethics Committee — PASSED
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 HB 7021 discussed above.]
In the House Ways & Means Committee meeting:
WMC1 — Local Government Fiscal Transparency by Ways & Means – SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL
The bill contains several elements with an overarching purpose to increase the fiscal transparency of local governments, with several elements to be phased in over several years. The bill requires easy public access to local government governing boards’ voting records related to tax increases and issuance of tax-supported debt. The bill requires additional public meetings and expands public notice requirements for local option tax increases, other than property taxes, and new long-term, tax-supported debt issuances. Local governments would be required to conduct and consider a debt affordability analysis prior to approving the issuance of new, long-term tax-supported debt. Under current law, local governments are required to have a CPA conduct an annual financial audit, if the Auditor General has not already scheduled an audit of the local government. The bill requires the auditor to report whether or not the local government is in compliance with the provisions of the new “Local Government Fiscal Transparency Act” as created by the bill. The Auditor General must request evidence of corrective action from local governments found not to be in compliance with the Act. Local governments must provide evidence that corrective action has been initiated within 45 days and evidence of completion within 180 days of such request. The Auditor General must report to the Legislative Auditing Committee local governments that do not take corrective action.
WMC2 — Local Government Fiscal Responsibility by Ways & Means – SUBMITTED AS A COMMITTEE BILL
The bill contains several elements intended to increase the fiscal responsibility of local governments. The bill creates a new statutory maximum millage rate for local governments other than school districts. The bill amends the process for approval of a school capital outlay discretionary sales surtax. The bill requires that, in order to levy a school capital outlay discretionary sales surtax, the school board resolution must be approved by a 4/5 majority of the school board. In addition, the bill requires any local option or property tax levy that will be approved by referendum be considered only at a general election and increases to 60% the approval threshold for voter approval of any local option tax or property tax levy. The bill requires voter approval for any new tax-supported debt that pledges revenues beyond 5 years and imposes the same election restrictions as for local option and property taxes. The bill provides an exception to this requirement in certain emergency situations. [NOTE: Related news story: “House looks to clamp down on local taxes“]
[toggle title=”Coming Up Tomorrow – Thursday, March 9, 2017“]
The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will meet (8:30 – 10:30 a.m.; 404 HOB) to consider, among other items, a Workshop on a DRAFT Proposed Committee Bill (PCB):
PIE5 – Public Officer and Agency Employee Ethics Reform by Public Integrity & Ethics (Bill text is not available)
The House will be in SESSION (1:00 p.m. – completion of business; House Chamber) to consider the following items and others on the Special Order Calendar (2nd Reading):
HB 7027 — Federal Education Funding by Education
House Memorial urging Congress to establish block grant funding for Title I funds & IDEA Part B funds & discontinue federal education mandates requiring certain actions in order to maintain federal funding eligibility.
HB 7033 — Medicaid Block Grants by Health Innovation
House Memorial urging Congress to establish Medicaid block grants.
The Senate will be in SESSION (1:00-3:00 p.m.; Senate Chamber) to consider the following item on 3rd Reading:
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.