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Student Financial Aid
CS/SB 86 Student Financial Aid by Senator Baxley.  

Senator Baxley filed an amendment on March 22nd that was adopted on March 23rd by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The struck-through provisions were removed from the bill by the amendment. 

Bright Futures/Benequisto
Beginning with the 2023-24 academic year the bill makes the following changes to the Bright Futures and Benequisto Scholarship programs: 
  • A student who has not been admitted to an academic program may receive up to 60 credit hours of the full award.
  • A student who has been admitted to an academic program that is not on the BOG’s list of programs that do not lead to employment is eligible for a full award.
  • A student who has been admitted to an academic program that is on the BOG’s list is eligible for a reduced award.
  • Determination of the student’s amount of award is determined by whether the program is or is not on the list with the student’s initial enrollment into the program or when the student changes programs. 
  • The award of 100 percent of tuition and fees for Academic Scholars and 75 percent for Medallion Scholars will no longer be specified in statute.  The amount of the full and reduced awards will be specified each year in the General Appropriations Act.
  • The amount of the award will be reduced by the number of credits earned by a student through articulated acceleration mechanisms. 
  • Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year, the student may apply any unused portion of a BF award toward a graduate degree not on the BOG’s list.
Benequisto
The bill provides that the 2021-2022 academic year will be the final year for initial eligibility for out-of-state students. 

BOG’s Duties
The bill creates the following duties for the Board of Governors: 
  • By January 1, 2022, publish an online dashboard with information about state university graduates by academic discipline with employment, debt, and other information.
  • Review and approve the BOT’s procedures described below.
  • By December 31, 2021, identify and annually publish a list of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, which do not lead directly to employment. The BOG must consider national, state, and regional industry demand for graduates of such degree programs. For each degree program, the BOG must identify occupations, current job openings, estimates of job growth, and employment wages.
BOT’s Duties
The bill creates the following duties for university boards of trustees: 
  • Each BOT shall adopt procedures to connect undergraduate students to career planning, coaching, and related programs during the first academic year of the student’s enrollment.
  • The procedures must include placing a hold on student registration if the student fails to follow the procedures.
New Financial Aid Programs
The bill creates two new financial aid programs: 
  • Florida Bright Opportunities Grant Program: The grant is for Pell Grant-eligible students with a tuition and registration fee balance at a Florida College System institution or career center after application of all federal aid and state financial assistance.
  • Florida Endeavor Scholarship Program: The scholarship is for students without a high school diploma or equivalent who are enrolled at Florida College System institution or career center.
(First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis
Bills of Interest Passed by the Senate or House
Before a bill becomes a law, it must pass both the Senate and the House and then be approved by the Governor.  The following bills of interest passed either the Senate or the House this week.

SB 72 Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19 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. (Passed Senate: 24 Yeas, 15 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis

SB 146 Civic Education by Senator Brandes. Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, the bill requires the Commissioner of Education to develop minimum criteria for a civic literacy practicum that may be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for the high school United States Government course. The bill establishes minimum requirements for a student to complete a civic literacy practicum.  The bill allows the hours a student spends outside of classroom instruction in the practicum’s civic engagement activity to be counted toward the community service requirements of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. (Passed Senate; 39 Yeas, 0 Nays) 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 the unauthorized publication of a classroom recording.
  • 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.
(Passed House; 77 Yeas, 42 Nays) 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 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.  (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/HB 51 Charter Schools by Representatives McClain and Duggan.  The bill allows state universities and state colleges to sponsor charter schools. A state university sponsored charter school may serve students from multiple school districts to meet regional education or workforce demands.  (Third of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 264 Higher Education by Senator Ray Rodrigues.  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 the unauthorized publication of a classroom recording.
  • Provides that state university student government associations are subject to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations of the BOG. 
(Final 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.
(Second of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis

CS/SB 400 Public Records by Senator Ray Rodrigues.  The bill prohibits an agency that receives a public record request from responding to such request by filing an action for declaratory relief against the requester to determine whether that record meets the definition of a public record or is confidential or exempt. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 490 Juneteenth Day by Representatives Bracy and Stewart.  The bill designates June 19th as the Juneteenth Day legal holiday.First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/HB 507 Education by Representative Rizo.  Beginning with students initially entering a Florida College System institution or state university in the 2021-2022 school year, the bill requires that 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 via articulated acceleration mechanisms will count toward the civic literacy competency requirement.  (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 541 Veterans’ Preference in Employment by Representative Buchannan.  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. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.       

CS/HB 573 Fiduciary Duty of Care for Appointed Public Officials and Executive Officers by Representative Beltran.  The bill establishes a fiduciary duty of care and training requirements for appointed public officials and executive officers acting on behalf of governmental entities.  Appointed public officials include the members of the Board of Governors of the State University System, members of the state university boards of trustees, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the State University System, and the presidents of the state universities. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.        

CS/HB 611 Civic Education by Representative Diamond.  Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, the bill requires the Commissioner of Education to develop minimum criteria for a civic literacy practicum that may be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for the high school United States Government course. The bill establishes minimum requirements for a student to complete a civic literacy practicum.  The bill allows the hours a student spends outside of classroom instruction in the practicum’s civic engagement activity to be counted toward the community service requirements of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.  (Final of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.        

CS/SB 758 Fiduciary Duty of Care for Appointed Public Officials and Executive Officers by Senator Diaz.  The bill establishes a fiduciary duty of care and training requirements for appointed public officials and executive officers acting on behalf of governmental entities.  Appointed public officials include the members of the Board of Governors of the State University System, members of the state university boards of trustees, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the State University System, and the presidents of the state universities. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.       

CS/HB 791 Workforce and Postsecondary Education by Representative Harding.  The bill requires the statewide articulation agreement to establish three mathematics pathways for students by aligning mathematics courses to programs, meta-majors, and careers. The bill requires a representative committee consisting of faculty from the SUS, the FCS, and school district career centers to collaborate to identify the three mathematics pathways and the mathematics course sequence within each pathway which align to the mathematics skills needed for success in the corresponding academic programs and careers. (First of four 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. (Second of three committees). Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 1014 Employee Organizations by Senator Baxley.  The bill creates a process with which employee organizations representing instructional personnel employed by a Florida College System or State University System institution must comply with when submitting an application for renewal of registration. The bill requires an employee organization representing instructional personnel employed by an FCS or an SUS institution to apply for recertification if it does not meet the 50 percent threshold for dues-paying membership within the bargaining unit. (First 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.  (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

SB 1450 Civic Education Curriculum by Senator Ana Maria Rodriquez.  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. (Second of three committees)  Bill text and staff analysis.   

HB 1475 Sex-specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports by Representative Tuck.  The bill requires separate sex-specific interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletics teams or sports if the team or sport is sponsored by a public primary or secondary school, a public postsecondary institution or any school or institution whose students or teams compete against such public schools or institutions.  Female teams are for biological women and girls.  The bill provides a process for resolving disputes concerning the student’s biological sex.  (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.   

SB 1482 Biscayne Bay by Senators Garcia and Pizzo. 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.

CS/SB 1954 Statewide Flooding and Sea level Rise Resilience by Senators Ray Rodrigues and Garcia.  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.  (First of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 7017 Foreign Influence by the House Public Integrity & Elections Committee.  The bill provides:
  • State agencies and political subdivisions must disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services.
  • Applicants for grants from or those proposing contracts with state agencies and political subdivisions must disclose all foreign financial connections with any of seven countries of concern.
  • Universities and colleges, including their Direct Support Organizations and other affiliates must disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to either the Board of Governors of the State University System or the Florida Department of Education.
  • Agreements for or the acceptance of donations conditioned on a program to promote the language and culture of any of seven countries of concern are prohibited.
  • State universities having a research budget of $10 million or more must screen foreign applicants for research positions.
  • State universities having a research budget of $10 million or more must establish a foreign travel monitoring program.  Each institution must publish an annual report summarizing foreign travel and activities.
(Second of four committees) Bill text and staff 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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