Your Weekly Legislative Update

April 7, 2021
Week Three Session Summary
March 29 - April 2, 2021
Legislative Session 2021

In This Issue...


2021 Legislative Session Highlights 

✓  HB 1507 Workforce Related Programs and Services will be heard in its final committee, House Education and Employment Committee, on Tuesday. 

✓  HB 135 School District Career Center Workforce Education Programs passed in its first committee stop last week. It now heads to the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The Senate version, SB 532, is in Rules Committee but is not yet on the agenda.

✓  SB 84 Retirement is on the special order calendar for Wednesday, 4/7/21. CS/SB 84 closes the pension plan (defined benefit) to new enrollees, except for members of the Special Risk Class, and requires participation in the investment plan (defined contribution), effective July 1, 2022. The bill would produce overall savings for employers participating in FRS of $7.9m after one year, and would gradually increase to $273.3m annually after 30 years.

✓  APC1 General Appropriations Act, Section 98 (pages 407-408, available under Publications), reads: “The nonrecurring sum of $3,500,000,000 is appropriated to Administered Funds to address negative economic impacts to the state resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in deferred maintenance needs in the state and school facilities. The funds shall be held in reserve. State agencies and the judicial branch are authorized to develop and submit to the Executive Office of the Governor a list of maintenance, repair, and renovation projects that will improve the health and safety of the state and school facilities and that can be completed no later than December 31, 2024. Eligible projects include those which improve air quality to reduce the risk of viral and environmental health hazards; correct critical life safety issues; improve water and sewer infrastructure; mitigate environmental deficiencies; ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ensure compliance with building codes. The Executive Office of the Governor shall review the submitted project lists and develop a statewide funding plan that covers the period October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2024. The funding plan shall be submitted to the Legislative Budget Commission no later than September 1, 2021, for approval. After the funding plan is approved by the Commission, 20 percent of the funds shall be released immediately.”

✓  On Friday, the EDR posted the April 1, 2021, GR outlook (available under Publications). It does not reflect changes to recurring GR from the December estimate for funds available but there is about $1B more available in non-recurring GR to be appropriated compared to the December estimates.

✓  According to a Community College Daily article from March 31, “President Joe Biden’s massive proposal to revamp the nation’s infrastructure – which includes roads, bridges, buildings, water systems, airports, electrical grids, green energy, broadband and more – will include $12 billion for infrastructure projects at community colleges and $100 billion for workforce development and job retraining...The White House noted that $12 billion of the American Jobs Plan would go toward upgrading two-year colleges’ facilities and technology. States would be responsible for using the funds for existing physical and technological infrastructure needs at community colleges and to identify strategies to ‘address access to community college in education deserts,’ according to a fact sheet.” 



9:30-11:00 House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

10:00-6:00 Senate Session

-HB 233 Postsecondary Education

-SB 264 Higher Education

-SB 2500 Appropriations

-SB 2502 Implementing the 2021-22 GAA

-SB 7018 Employer Contributions to Fund Retiree Benefits -SB 2506 State Group Insurance Program

-SB 2508 Employee Compensation -SB 86 Student Financial Aid 

-SB 84 Retirement

11:30-1:30 House Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee

2:00-N/A House Session

-HB 5601 Higher Education 



9:00-2:00 House Session

11:30-1:30 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education

2:30-6:00 Senate Session

5:30-7:30 House Appropriations 



8:30-6:00 Senate Appropriations 

Schedule: View Committees and Session on The Florida Channel

We welcome you to track our progress weekly in Capitol Perceptions. Feel free to share it with a college friend who is not an AFC member. The online AFC Advocacy Toolkit is filling up with valuable and informative resources for you including a link to each week’s most recent 2021 AFC/FCS Bill Tracking Matrix


To review the Council of Presidents' Legislative Budget Request CLICK HERE.

Bills the AFC is tracking:

HB 311 / SB 1456: Public Records/Examination and Assessment Instruments 

These bills protect all student examinations and assessments, including developmental materials and work papers created at FCS institutions, state universities, or DOE. The State Board of Education.  The bill provides for the repeal of the exemptions on October 2, 2026, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.

 HB 311 has passed its committees and is heading to the House floor for reading. SB 1456 has is scheduled for its second of three committee stops on April 6, 2021.

HB 1507 / HB 1505 / SB 1042 / HB 366 / SB 98: CareerSource Boards and Workforce Education

HB 1507 creates targeted changes to the way that workforce education is approved and funded, and creates two new programs which make district/charter career centers and Florida College System institutions earn funding for its workforce programs.  Of note, the bill requires all new workforce education programs, as currently defined by law, to obtain SBE approval before a program can begin at both the district/charter career centers and FCS institutions.  As summarized by the staff analysis, matters that also affect FCS institutions are:

  1. Tasking the CareerSource state board to appoint a Credentials Review Committee to identify the degree and nondegree credentials of value, develop a Master Credential List for performance funding, and establish policy direction for funding which prioritizes outcomes and leverages resources to support vulnerable populations;
  2. Creating the Open Door Workforce Grant Program to provide grants to district/charter career centers and Florida College System (FCS) institutions in order to cover up to two-thirds of the cost of short-term, high-demand programs;
  3. Creating the Money-Back Guarantee Program, requiring each district/charter career center and FCS institution to refund the cost of tuition to students who are not able to find a job within 6 months of completing select programs; and
  4. Creates a new workforce performance funding model for the school district and FCS institution workforce programs, requiring one-third of performance funding to be based on rewarding student job placement and the remaining two-thirds to be based on student earnings.

Additionally, HB 1507 tasks the Florida Talent Development Council (formerly the Higher Education Coordinating Council) with studying and reporting on the health care industry, starting with nursing.  Moreover, it tasks the council with collecting information on all nursing clinical placements and centralizing placement of nursing students across the state.

HB 1505 does many things with respect to workforce education.  Per the staff analysis, it:

  1. Creates a consumer-first workforce system requiring the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to consult with the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to implement a single automated consumer-first workforce system that improves coordination among the required one-stop partners to efficiently and effectively provide workforce and education programs and services in Florida.
  2. Requires any contract to implement the consumer-first workforce system to be performance-based.
  3. Requires the consumer-first workforce system to support service integration and case management across programs and agencies and requires DEO to develop training for required one-stop partners on the use of the system and how all partners can prequalify individuals for benefits and services.
  4. Requires state career planning resources to be provided to students as they progress along with their educational experience, beginning in the middle grades career and education planning course, in the character development curriculum for grades 9 through 12, and to supplement existing tools utilized within student life skills and career planning courses at the postsecondary level.
  5. Requires public postsecondary student career service centers to utilize state career planning resources as they prepare students for future employment.
  6. Creates a definition and establishes criteria for the work-based learning opportunity, requiring it to be developmentally appropriate, develop workplace skills, link to next steps in career planning and preparation on a student’s career pathway, be provided in an equal and fair manner, and prioritize paid experiences.
  7. Requires that students entering a public postsecondary institution in 2022-2023, and thereafter, must be able to earn nationally recognized digital credentials for competencies within the general education core courses which demonstrate career readiness. The digital credentials will be identified by a faculty committee appointed by the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors.
  8. Requires DOE to establish minimum standards and policies governing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs which must require training providers to submit data to determine program performance.
  9. Requires that DOE’s annual report on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs also include retention and completion rates of participants, wage progression of participants, and expenditure data by the training provider, program, and occupation.

HB 1507 and 1505 have been heard in three committees, and need to be heard in one more before it is ready for the floor.  HB 1505 and SB 366 most closely align, and SB 366 is now at its second committee stop.  SB 1042 and 98 have elements of both 1505 and 1507.  Senate bill 98 is on its third committee stop in Appropriations.   

SB 532 /HB 135District Career Centers and Associate of Science in Nursing

These bills allow district career centers to offer an associate of science in nursing.  The Senate bill was heard and passed by the Health Policy Committee on March 17, 2021, and is now at its third stop, the Rules Committee, but has not yet been scheduled.  The House was heard for the first time on March 31, 2021.

 HB 233 / SB 264: Intellectual Freedom

The bill requires the BOG and SUS to design a survey of intellectual freedom to be administered by each public university and college annually.  The survey will assess the status of intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution.  Beginning September 1, 2022, the results of this survey are to be compiled by the SBE and the BOG, respectively, and published each September. Additionally, the bill prohibits the SBE, the BOG, FCS institutions, and state universities from shielding students, faculty, or staff from protected free speech.   The bill authorizes the recording, for specified purposes, of video and audio in classrooms at Florida’s public institutions of higher education, while clarifying that the nonconsensual recording of video and audio in classrooms is permissible. Protected expressive rights of faculty work are protected by the right to seek civil action against the liable party, in which injunctive relief and damages may be sought. Providing further protections for students, the bill requires that state university student government associations provide elected or appointed officers a direct appeal, with no conditions precedent, to a senior university administrator of any discipline, suspension, or removal from office. Furthermore, all FCS institutions and state universities are required to adopt student codes of conduct that have due process associated with the complaint.

 This House bill passed on March 18, 2021.  The Senate tabled its version of the bill and adopted the House bill.  The House version is now set for a final vote in the Senate on April 7, 2021.

HB 997 / SB 220: Public Records Exemption for Presidential Searches

HB 997 creates an exemption from public records and meeting requirements for presidential searches at state universities and FCS institutions.  The bill exemption is lifted at least 21 days before the date of a meeting at which either an interview is conducted or at which final action or a vote is to be taken on the employment of applicants.  The bill also creates a public meeting exemption for meetings to vet applications of people who have applied for presidential positions. Recording of these meetings is required, but they are exempt from disclosure.  Meetings that establish the qualifications of potential applicants or a compensation framework.  Once finalists have been selected, interviews are public.  Votes as to the chosen applicant for the presidential position must also be open.   The bill provides for the repeal of the section on October 2, 2026, unless reviewed and saved from repeal by the Legislature.

HB 997 is headed to the House floor for reading.  SB 220 is in its last committee stop in the Senate.

HB 281 / SB 52: Post-Secondary Financial Matters

HB 281 and SB 52 create the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program provides, contingent on an appropriation, reimbursement to eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related instructional materials costs associated with students participating in dual enrollment courses. The Program would provide reimbursement to eligible private school and home education program students participating in dual enrollment courses during the fall and spring semesters as well as eligible public school, private school, and home education program students participating in dual enrollment courses during the summer semester. 

HB 281 is up for its third committee stop of four total stops, and SB 52 passed the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration.  

HB 835 / SB 1014: Employee Organizations 

The bill applies to K-12, FCS, and SUS bargaining agents.  Much of the bill applies to K-12 collective bargaining.  For FCS and SUS, the bills create Florida Statutes 1012.8552 and 1012.916, which require annual renewal paperwork for FCS and SUS’s bargaining agents, respectively, to include new information: (1) the number of employees eligible for representation; (2) the number of employees represented by the employee organization and the number of those employees who do and do not pay dues; (3) documentation from the institution verifying such information; and (4) documentation from the institution verifying that it was provided with a copy of the employee organization’s registration renewal application.  Incomplete applications cannot be considered by PERC.  If the application reveals that the agent collects dues from less than half of its members, then the agent must recertify in order to be the bargaining agent for the members.    The bill authorizes an FCS or SUS institution to challenge an employee organization’s registration renewal application on the basis of inaccuracy.   If the challenge is made, PERC must review for accuracy and compliance with the renewal requirements.  If the application is inaccurate or does not comply, PERC must revoke registration and certification. 

HB 835 is on its third committee stop of three stops, and SB 1014 is on its third committee stop and is up for consideration on April 6, 2021.


The ‘intellectual freedom’ surveys are coming


04/05/2021 05:47 AM EDT

Poised for passage There’s a new, more conservative Florida Senate in 2021 and it appears that will make the difference for legislation that has typically stalled in the upper chamber. This week, the Legislature’s attempt to fight back against “cancel culture” is set to pass the Senate, which would trigger what will be a massive-scale free speech campus climate survey.

Out of thin air — On Tuesday, the House’s top education committee is working out a committee bill that would create new Covid-19 legal protections for colleges and universities. The idea was just proposed in the Senate last week.

Setting the tone The House and Senate this week are taking up their respective budgets on the floor, drawing the lines for negotiations to unfold. For higher education, there are stark difference in cuts and policy – with the House seeking drastic changes for private school grants.

Welcome to Florida Higher Ed Watch, the weekly digest of college and university news in the Sunshine State. Questions? Tips? Events? Email me at [email protected], and follow @alatterbury for real-time updates throughout the week.


LIABILITY: The Florida Senate’s top education panel on Tuesday embraced a multifaceted bill aimed at creating new Covid-19 legal protections for colleges while clarifying state K-12 accountability measures amid the pandemic. Some colleges backed the measure as one Democrat attempted to strip the legal liabilities from the bill, fearing students would have no resource to challenge their schools in court.

“I understand people's frustration,” said Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), chair of the Education Committee. “But at the same time, the pandemic was obviously something new and unprecedented. We had to move forward, and these colleges did the best job they could.”

TEED UP: With a vote teed up in the Senate, the Florida Legislature appears ready to pass a controversial proposal that would require colleges and universities to conduct surveys gauging “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” on campus, per the News Service of Florida.

The Senate on Thursday took up the House’s version of the measure, FL HB233 (21R), which would lead to colleges and universities surveying students, faculty and staff members.

EASE AND ABLE: Florida lawmakers are some $68.9 million apart on spending for private college tuition grants this session as the House takes a hard line in its budget by eliminating one student assistance program and installing new accountability rules over another.

Private school leaders are rallying against the House spending plan that would cut off state aid for nearly 13,000 students at 16 schools and possibly undermine enrollment during the pandemic.

“We’re very concerned the House would come up with these metrics, which is totally not the intent of the law,” David Armstrong, president of St. Thomas University, a private, nonprofit Catholic school in Miami Gardens, said Tuesday during a press conference. “And then, [they’re] applying them in this arbitrary way at a time when all of us need assistance.”

PREDATORY PROFESSOR: In January 2020, Florida State University received an urgent report that Richard Feiock, then the Augustus B. Turnbull Professor of Public Administration, had engaged in an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with a visiting female international student, as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

Deeply unsatisfied with the lack of resolution, professors within the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy are now demanding that Florida State hold Feiock accountable for his actions. They also want to know why Florida State didn’t act sooner to protect vulnerable students from someone they consider to be a "predator."

— Florida State graduate assistants union criticize handling of sexual misconduct case

THANKS, COVID: Florida’s state college system is experiencing a 6.1 percent drop in enrollment during the 2020-21 academic year that’s been fueled by the coronavirus, according to new data released Wednesday by economists.

The latest projections, stemming from an Education Estimating Conference meeting on March 23, paint the clearest picture yet on how Florida colleges are faring during the pandemic as schools across the U.S. face enrollment declines.

FLORIDA’S BACKBONE: There's a lot that is different this spring on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. It's quieter, since coronavirus safety protocols restrict large gatherings, and the dorm common areas are often empty. But there's one thing that hasn't changed: On most weekdays, you can find Lavonda Little at Reid Hall, a four-story residential building, working as a custodian, a job she's held for the last 16 years, NPR reports.

NEW COLLEGE, NEW PRESIDENT: New College of Florida will begin interviewing presidential finalists on Monday, marking the college’s latest step to replace outgoing President Donal O’Shea, per Florida Politics.


CHOO-CHOO: What was once a bill including one university tuition break is now a higher education package chock full of House priorities. On Tuesday, the House’s top education committee will take up a new look FL HB1261 (21R) that now includes Covid-19 legal protections for state universities.

But wait – there’s more.

This bill has a ‘buy one, get one free’ tuition and fee waiver, a tuition break to entice students who have grandparents in Florida and even stipulations for Effective Access to Student Education grants.

 Capitol Perceptions is compiled weekly during the Florida Legislative Session and distributed to AFC members.  

Capitol Perceptions - The Back Issues

Click the year to read back issues of Capitol Perceptions

 2020201920182017 - 20162015201420132012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007