Your Weekly Legislative Update

March 31, 2021
Week Three Session Summary
March 22 - March 26, 2021
Legislative Session 2021

In This Issue...


2021 Legislative Session Highlights 

The first round of budgets were presented last week:







Program Fund:




20,000,000 15,000,000

Work Florida Student Success:



Performance-Based Incentives (Industry Certifications):



Dual Enrollment:



Fixed Capital Outlay:



Open Door Grant:



Post-Secondary Academic Library Network:



Pathways to Career Opportunities:



Last week, Chair Joe Pickens and government relations staff met with House Education Committee staff
Representative Clay Yarborough, sponsor of HB 1507, regarding the suggestions approved by the COP for HB 1507.

✓  HB 1505 Workforce Programs and Services and HB 1507 Workforce Related Programs and Services passed in their third committee stops last week. They now head to the Education and Employment Committee.

✓  SB 86 Student Financial Aid passed in Appropriations Subcommittee on Education last week and is on the Appropriations Committee agenda for 3/31/21 at 1:00 PM. Senator Baxley filed a strike-all amendment that passed. It removed the reduction of a Bright Futures or Benacquisto Scholarship award amount tied to student enrollment in a certificate or degree program on a list created by the BOG, SBE, or ICUF.

✓  SB 52 Postsecondary Education (regarding the Dual Enrollment Scholarship) passed in the Senate 26-14 on March 25. 



9:00-3:00 House Appropriations Committee

-APC 1 Appropriations

-APC 2 Implementing the 2021-22 GAA

-APC 4 State Administered Retirement Systems

1:00-6:00 Senate Appropriations

-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

4:00-N/A House Session



9:00-12:00 Senate Appropriations

12:30-2:30 House Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee

1:30-5:00 Senate Session

3:30-N/A House Session 



9:00-N/A Revenue Estimating Impact Conference 

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 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 first of three committee stops on March 30, 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 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 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 two committees, and need to be heard in two 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 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 bill has not yet had its first hearing in the House.

 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 a 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 in the House. The Senate bill is now on its last reading.

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 are 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 second committee stop of three stops, and SB 1014 is on its second committee stop, which is its final stop.


Higher education cuts are on the table


03/29/2021 05:45 AM EDT

Wide differences  The higher education budgets rolled out by House and Senate leaders last week show that Florida’s state university system will be looking at deep cuts. The question now surrounds how much lawmakers want to take from colleges. The early budgets show the system is facing cuts ranging from $593 million to $217 million.

One more ride — The Senate’s full appropriations committee on Wednesday is taking up FL SB86 (21R), the Bright Futures bill. The proposal has been scaled back substantially in the last few weeks but is one stop away from a full floor vote. Meanwhile, the House has yet to take up a similar measure.

Last stop — The House is nearly ready to take up legislation establishing a public records exemption to shield candidates vying for top university jobs. The legislation has one more stop this week.

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.


THIS OR THAT: The Florida House is proposing some $593 million in higher education budget cuts for 2021-22, including $41.1 million in tuition grants for students attending private colleges.

Comparatively, the Florida Senate is eyeing $217 million in cuts to state university operations on top of a $27.5 million reduction in “administrative efficiencies.”

Putting the massive difference in the size of the cuts aside, the budgets also show House priorities that the Senate has yet to show interest in this session.

The House’s spending plan would cut $556.4 million in the name of “major funding program reform” for the state university system, cut $41.1 million in private college student grants and eliminate textbook stipends within the Bright Futures scholarship program to the tune of $37.5 million.

The idea of cutting grants for students was met with a firestorm of criticism.

“It limits choice in higher education, and this does take money out of the pockets of students,” testified Bob Boyd, president and CEO of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. “It’s balancing the budget on the backs of students.”

STILL AROUND: The Florida Senate’s education spending panel on Tuesday approved a reworked student financial aid package that scaled back proposed controversial changes to the popular Bright Futures scholarship program.

Lawmakers advanced a rewrite of FL SB86 (21R) that stripped a provision tying Bright Futures awards to degrees that directly produce jobs by a 6-3 vote along party lines with Democrats remaining in opposition.

“This bill has already made a landmark impact on helping people understand that we want students to have a well-rounded education, but we also want them to have viable career paths as they leave college,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala).

FIGHTING BACK: Still reeling from an investigation last year into allegations of sexual misconduct by a former colleague who retired rather than face possible dismissal, faculty at Florida State’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy now are pushing back, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

— "No place in our community" for sexual misconduct, FSU dean tells faculty following controversy.

IN THEIR SIGHTS: The University of Florida is defending its decision to crack down on three conservative student groups for breaking Covid rules — a move that angered state GOP lawmakers who said there could be “hell to pay.”

In a statement released Sunday, UF leaders said the interim suspensions leveled on the groups, which include the local Turning Point USA chapter, were meant to protect the health and safety of students, not silence them because of their political ideologies. The explanation has done little to quell top Republicans who see the sanctions as unfair punishment against conservatives amid the ongoing culture war.

“The university has not taken, and would not take, action against a student or registered student group based on the viewpoint they represent or the content of their speech,” UF’s statement reads.

HACKERS STRIKE THE U: Hackers targeted the University of Miami in a massive and brazen “ransomware” scheme that at the very least has compromised the personal information of an unknown number of medical patients, the Miami Herald reports.

STILL FIGHTING IT: A Florida federal judge on Tuesday denied Lynn University's bid to dismiss putative class allegations from a student's suit over the school's decision not to issue partial tuition and fee refunds after classes moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, per Law360.

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

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