Your Weekly Legislative Update

March 16, 2021
Week Two Session Summary
March 8 - March 12, 2021
Legislative Session 2021

In This Issue...


2021 Legislative Session Highlights 

HB 847 Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network will be heard on Monday in the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Click here to Waive in Support.
HB 233 Postsecondary Education (Intellectual Freedom) is now headed to the floor on 2nd reading, 3/18/2021.
SB 86 Student Financial Aid (refocuses state financial aid on programs that lead to jobs) will be presented in Senate Education this Tuesday, at 12:30.

Schedule: View Committees and Session on The Florida Channel

12:30-3:00 Senate Education -SB 86 Student Financial Aid
1:00-3:00 House Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning Subcommittee

9:00-N/A State Board of Education
9:30-11:30 House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee
3:45-5:45 House Education & Employment Committee
4:00-6:00 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education

11:30-1:30 Senate Appropriations
12:30-N/A House Session
-HB 233 Postsecondary Education

9:30-N/A House Session
10:00-N/A Senate Session

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, the 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 one committee meeting and has two more committee stops. SB 1456 has not been heard in its first committee stop.

HB 1505: Workforce Programs and Services (Melo) 

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 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 preapprenticeship programs which must require training providers to submit data to determine program performance.

9. Requires that DOE’s annual report on apprenticeship and preapprenticeship 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 has elements of both 1505 and 1507, but has not been heard in its first committee.

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

HB 1507 also 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 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 be based on student earnings.

Additionally, HB 1507 tasks that 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.

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 is in its second committee stop, and will be heard on March 17, 2021 in the Health Policy Committee.  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 will be heard on March 18, 2021 in the House. The Senate bill has passed two committees, and now is in its last committee, Appropriations.

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 a 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 which 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 repeal of the section on October 2, 2026, unless reviewed and saved from repeal by the Legislature.

HB 997 has passed its first committee stop, and has two more committees to clear. SB 220 is in its last committee stop in the Senate.

It has not yet been scheduled to be heard in Appropriations.

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 second committee stop of four total stops, and SB 52 has been heard in two committees and is now in its last committee stop, which is Appropriations.


New House school safety package picks up where lawmakers left off in 2020 --- BY ANDREW ATTERBURY

The Florida House this week is proposing a new school safety package that carries over numerous policies that failed to pass last session, including granting more power to the Education commissioner to punish school leaders who don’t comply with security regulations.

The wide-ranging bill is slated to be introduced Tuesday by the Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee as the Legislature continues to address the fallout from the 2018 Parkland shooting.

What’s this about: The 29-page blanket proposal includes new and old provisions that touch on different facets of school safety, from reporting local incidents to parents, gauging the effectiveness of mental health programs and requiring crisis-intervention training for campus security officers.

Similar to the legislation Florida lawmakers sought in 2020, this session’s school security package would tackle a list of loose ends and address issues that have been criticized by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and a grand jury tasked with investigating the tragic shooting that left 17 dead and more than a dozen wounded.

One provision that spilled over from 2020 would allow the state’s commissioner of education to call on local school boards to withhold pay from their superintendents when a school district fails to comply with safety and security rules. Further, the State Board of Education could direct school districts to suspend superintendent and school board salaries until noncompliance is fixed, under the legislation.

Additionally, the proposal would require school districts and local authorities to draw up reunification plans to help bring families back together after an emergency. This wrinkle, which was also proposed in 2020, stems from the chaotic response in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, when families for hours were left in the dark about what unfolded.

The proposed legislation would require schools to send out “timely” notifications to parents about emergencies and crimes that occur on campuses. It expands the list of “unlawful acts” that must be reported to include murder, sex offenses, aggravated assault and weapons possession — instead of only weapons use.

The bill would usher in various new policies surrounding student mental health following the Parkland grand jury ripping the state's framework of services, describing a “patchwork of interlocking, often-conflicting sources of care” plagued by financial deficiencies and agency conflicts.

For one, the Department of Education would be charged with producing an annual report alongside the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, gauging the availability and effectiveness of services under the state’s mental health spending in schools.

The proposal would require the state Department of Children and Families to include data from schools in its yearly Baker Act report that details people who have been involuntarily confined for mental health screenings. This would help paint a more accurate picture of how schools are deploying the Baker Act, something advocacy groups say is much needed in Florida.

Additionally, the legislation specifics that all safe-school officers, instead of just school resource officers, must complete mental health crisis intervention training.

Another piece of the bill would create stiffer penalties for anyone who reports a false tip through the FortifyFL school safety application. Some 70 percent of tips in 2020 were either “not school safety” or “unintelligible,” according to recent data presented to the Parkland commission.

Context: Last year’s school safety package died on the final day of session after the House refused to adopt provisions sought by the Senate on FL HB7065 (20R), including an updated version of the Kaia Rolle Act, which would have prohibited the arrest of students younger than 7 at school unless the crime rises to a felony. House Democrats raised concerns that rejecting the Senate proposal could put the entire package in jeopardy, but were powerless to act.

What’s next: Once the legislation is introduced as a new committee bill on Tuesday, the bill will be assigned to House panels for consideration.

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

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