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Environmental Bills Heard in Committee
HB 7019 Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience by House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee and Representative Busatta Cabrera.  The bill creates the following:
  • Resilient Florida Grant Program: The Program will provide grants to a county or municipality to fund the costs of community resilience planning, vulnerability assessments that identify or address risks of flooding and sea level rise, and the development of plans and policies that allow communities to prepare for threats from flooding and sea level rise. 
  • Comprehensive Statewide Flood Vulnerability and Sea Level Rise Data Set and Assessment:
    • By July 1, 2022, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shall complete the development of a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise data set sufficient to conduct a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise assessment.
    • By July 1, 2023, the DEP shall complete a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise assessment that identifies inland and coastal infrastructure, geographic areas, and communities in the state that are vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and the associated risks. The assessment must be updated at least every three years.
  • Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan: By December 1, 2021, and each December 1 thereafter, the bill requires DEP to develop a Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan on a three-year planning horizon. The plan must consist of ranked projects that address risks of flooding and sea level rise to coastal and inland communities in the state.  The total amount of funding proposed by the plan may not exceed $100 million per year.
  • Regional Resilience Coalitions: Counties and municipalities may enter into agreements to form regional resilience coalitions for the purpose of planning for the resilience needs of communities and coordinating intergovernmental solutions to mitigate adverse impacts of flooding and sea level rise.
  • Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation: The Hub is established within the University of South Florida College of Marine Science to coordinate efforts between the academic and research institutions of the state. The University of South Florida College of Marine Science will serve as the lead institution and engage other academic and research institutions, private partners, and financial sponsors to coordinate efforts to support applied research and innovation to address the flooding and sea level rise challenges of the state.
Funding for the bill will be provided in the General Appropriations Act.  (Heard by two of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 1177 Biscayne Bay by Representatives Avila and Duran. The bill creates the Biscayne Bay Commission to:
  • Act as the official coordinating clearinghouse for all public policy and projects related to Biscayne Bay to unite all governmental agencies, businesses, and residents in the area to speak with one voice on bay issues.
  • Develop coordinated plans, priorities, programs, projects, and budgets that might substantially improve the bay area.
  • Act as the principal advocate and watchdog to ensure that bay projects are funded and implemented in a proper and timely manner.
  • Seek and receive funding to further its coordinating authority or functions regarding bay improvement projects of the commission.
The bill prohibits facilities for sanitary sewage disposal from disposing of waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.  (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
Bills of Interest Heard in Committee
Bills are referred to multiple committees for hearing.  A bill must be heard by all the referred committees before it is eligible to be heard by the full Senate or House. The following bills were heard in committee this week.

HB 5 Civic Education Curriculum by Representative Zika.  The bill revises the high school social studies graduation credit requirement to require that the United States Government course must include a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.  (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.   

HB 51 Charter Schools by Representatives McClain and Duggan.  The bill allows state universities and state colleges to sponsor charter schools.  (Second of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 52 Postsecondary Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues.  The bill:
  • Clarifies that the postsecondary tuition and fee exemptions apply to a student who is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families when they are under the age of 18.
  • Creates the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program which would reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related instructional materials costs for dual enrollment courses taken by private school or home education program students during the fall or spring terms and for all students during the summer term.  Funding for the program is subject to an appropriation in the state budget.  The estimated cost of the program is $28.5 million for FY 2021-22.
  • Authorizes a university board of trustees to implement a bonus scheme based on awards for work performance or employee recruitment and retention.  The bonus scheme must be approved by the BOG.
(Final of three committees)  Bill text and staff analysis.

SB 72 Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-1 by Senator Brandes. SB 72 was amended to add the substance of SB 74 COVID-19-related Claims Against Health Care Providers. The bill provides specific COVID-19-related liability protections for businesses, educational institutions (including postsecondary), government entities, religious organizations, and health care providers.  (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis

CS/SB 168 - Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program by Senator Hooper.  Annual funding of $700,000 for FIU’s Wall of Wind (WOW) is authorized as part of the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program.  The funding for the Program, including the WOW, is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021.  The bill extends for ten years the funding for the Program through June 30, 2031. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/CS/SB 233 Postsecondary Education by Representative Roach.  The bill:
  • Beginning on September 1, 2022, the BOG is required to annually report on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution by conducting a survey of students, faculty, and administrators.
  • Provides that state universities may not shield students from protected expressive activities.
  • Provides that a student may record video or audio of class lectures for their own personal educational use, in connection with a  complaint to the public institution of higher education where the recording was made, or as evidence in, or in preparation for, a criminal or civil proceeding. A recorded lecture may not be published without the consent of the lecturer. 
  • Provides a cause of action for unauthorized publication of the classroom recordings.
  • Requires that state university student government associations must provide elected or appointed officers a direct appeal to a senior university administrator of any discipline, suspension, or removal from office.
  • Requires state universities to adopt a student code of conduct with specified protections.
(Final of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 258 Internship Tax Credit Program by Senator Jones.  The bill creates the “Florida Internship Tax Credit Program” beginning with the January 1, 2022 tax year.  A qualified business may earn a tax credit of $2,000 for each degree-seeking student intern employed for up to a maximum of $10,000 in any taxable year. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis

HB 281 Postsecondary Education Financial Matters by Representative Duggan.  The bill:
  • Clarifies that the postsecondary tuition and fee exemptions apply to a student who is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families when they are under the age of 18.
  • Creates the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program which would reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions for tuition and related instructional materials costs for dual enrollment courses taken by private school or home education program students during the fall or spring terms and for all students during the summer term. Funding for the program is subject to an appropriation in the state budget.  The estimated cost of the program is $28.5 million for FY 2021-22.
  • Authorizes a university board of trustees to implement a bonus scheme based on awards for work performance or employee recruitment and retention.  The bonus scheme must be approved by the BOG.
(First of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis

CS/HB 311 Public Records/Assessment Instruments by Representative Silvers.  The bill creates a new public record exemption for all examinations and assessments, including developmental materials and workpapers, that are prepared, prescribed, or administered by state colleges, state universities, or DOE.  The bill expands the existing public records exemption for the assessments and developmental materials related to the student assessment program for public schools. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis

HB 507 Education by Representative Rizo.  The bill provides that beginning with students initially entering a state college or state university in the 2021-2022 school year and thereafter, each student must demonstrate competency in civic literacy by achieving a passing score on an assessment and by successfully completing a civic literacy course. Credits earned for such courses through articulated acceleration mechanisms will count toward the civic literacy competency requirement.  (First of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.        

CS/SB 782 Educational Opportunities for Veterans by Senator Cruz.  The bill provides veterans who are Florida residents and have a 100 percent disability rating with tuition and fee assistance.  The assistance is equal to any amount not covered by the veteran’s federal benefits. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/HB 845 State University Free Seat Program by Representative David Smith.  The bill creates a waiver of tuition and fees for one course of an online baccalaureate degree program for veterans, active duty military and a person “who has not been enrolled in a postsecondary institution for more than five years.” For all other courses in the program, the bill provides the student up to a 25 percent discount on tuition, provided the student remains enrolled in at least one online course during each academic year. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
     
HB 847 Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network by Representative Byrd. The bill establishes the Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network to replace the Complete Florida Plus Program.  The Network is under the joint oversight of the Board of Governors and the Department of Education. (First of three committees). Bill text and staff analysis.

SB 922 Veterans’ Preference in Employment by Senator Burgess.  The bill authorizes state agencies to waive postsecondary education employment requirements for a current member of any reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or the Florida National Guard or a veteran who has been honorably discharged if the person is otherwise qualified for the position. (First of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis

HB 947 Dues and Uniform Assessments by Representative Plakon.  The bill requires a public employee wanting to join a union to submit a signed membership authorization form and requires a public employee to submit a signed dues deduction form before an employer may deduct union dues from an employee’s pay. (First of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 997 Public Records and Meetings/Postsecondary Education Executive Search by Representative Garrison.  The bill creates a public records and public meetings exemption for personal identifying information for applicants for president of a state university or state college.  The information will be made public for the final group of selected applicants at least 21 days before the final selection. (First of three committees)  Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 1261 Higher Education by Representative Toledo.  The bill creates a “buy one, get one free” tuition and fee waiver on upper-level courses in a program of strategic emphasis as identified by the BOG. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/HB 1273 Out-of-state Fee Waiver for Nonresident Students by Representative Maney.  The bill provides a waiver of the out-of-state fee for nonresident students with a SAT/ACT score of the 89th or higher percentile whose grandparents reside in Florida.  (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

SB 1436 Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network by Senator Gruters. The bill establishes the Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network to replace the Complete Florida Plus Program.  The Network is under the joint oversight of the Board of Governors and the Department of Education. (Second of three committees). Bill text and staff analysis

CS/SB 1450 Civic Education Curriculum by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez.  The bill revises the high school social studies graduation credit requirement to require the United States Government course must include a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States.  (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.   

CS/HB 1507 Workforce Related Programs and Services by Representative Yarborough.  The bill creates the Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help; creates & revises provisions relating to workforce services including the Labor Market Estimating Conference, workforce opportunity portal, state board composition, Credentials Review Committee, state plan requirements, waivers, local workforce development boards, Master Credentials List, CAPE Industry Certification Funding List, industry certifications, SEAS program, workforce development metrics, Florida Talent Development Council, Open Door Grant Program, preapprenticeship & apprenticeship program grants, & Money-back Guarantee Program. (Second of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/CS/HB 7005 Civil Liability for COVID-19-related Claims Against Certain Health Care Providers by House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill provides specific COVID-19-related liability protections for health care providers.  The definition of “health care provider” is broad and includes many health care professions and health care facilities.  A claimant must prove that the health care provider was grossly negligent, reckless, or engaged in intentional misconduct.  The bill applies to litigation related to contracting COVID-19; injury due to delay or omission in scheduling surgery or an act or omission in providing care for a medical condition due to a lack of resources caused by COVID-19; novel or experimental COVID-19 treatment given to a COVID-19 patient; or treatment of a COVID-19 patient whose injuries were related to an exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.  The provisions of the bill expire one year and one day after the bill becomes a law.  The bill is retroactive unless the claim was filed before the effective date of the bill. (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
Student Financial Aid Update
SB 86 Student Financial Aid by Senator Baxley. Will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday (3/16 at 12:30 pm). Student government presidents from the SUS, including FIU SGA president Alexandra Valdes, will be in Tallahassee to testify on this bill. Bill Text and Bill Analysis.

If you would like the Department of Governmental Relations to track a bill this session, please call our office at 305-348-3505 or email us at govtrel@fiu.edu.

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