The Legislative Session ended on April 30, 2021 with the passing of the budget for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year. The budget totals over $95 billion and includes $6.7 billion in Federal Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds. Next, the budget will be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for review. The Governor may veto the entire budget or any line item (project, program). A Governor rarely vetoes the entire budget, but Governor DeSantis will most likely veto some items.
Prior to the budget conference, the State University System was facing $570 million in budget reductions and $214 million in new tuition and fee waivers. After numerous system-wide cuts were proposed, the Legislature passed only one system-wide reduction for the SUS of $18.5 million tied to a new faculty salary cap (see HB 5601). FIU’s share of the salary cap reduction is $2 million. The Legislature limited the new tuition and fee waivers and provided $25 million to partially fund the waivers created by HB 1261. FIU will have an additional $1 million expense for required increased contributions for employers to the Florida Retirement System. In the final budget, the system received $12 million for the Florida Integrated Library System and Distance Learning Student Services.
The Legislature authorized the release of the 6% Budget Holdback for FY 2020-21 of $190.5 million for the SUS. FIU’s share is $20 million.
The Legislature authorized $350 million of the Federal Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds to be used for deferred maintenance needs in state, college, and university facilities. State agencies, the BOG, and the FCS will submit a list of proposed projects to the Governor. By September 1, 2021, the Governor will develop a statewide funding plan to submit for approval by the Legislative Budget Commission.
State University System Funding:
Performance Funding: Maintain current funding with no increase
World Class Faculty and Scholar Program and the Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program: Maintain current funding with no increase
Universities of Distinction: None
National Rankings: No new funding
Preeminence: No new funding
Tuition Increase: None
PECO: $7.2 million for FIU for the CASE Building Remodel and Renovation
PECO Maintenance: None
PECO Bonding: Bonding is not authorized
CITF: $46 million (FIU’s share is $6.8 million)
Continued Funding for FIU:
$32 million in operational funding for implementing our Board of Trustees’ strategic plan for FIU to become a top 50 Public Research University
$3.5 million for FIUnique
$2.5 million for the Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP
$1 million for the Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom
$969,689 for the Public Loss Model
$700,000 for the Wall of Wind
Student Financial Assistance
The Bright Futures Academic Scholars award will continue to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer. The Medallion Scholars award will continue to cover an amount equal to 75 percent of tuition and fees for all semesters, including summer.
The award will not include an additional $300 each fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses.
First Generation in College Matching Grant Program:
Maintain current funding with no increase
Maintain state match of two dollars for every dollar provided by the institution.
Florida Student Assistance Grant Program:
Maintain current funding with no increase
Board of Trustees Confirmation
The Senate must confirm both new and renewed trustee appointments to University Boards of Trustees. FIU Trustees Dean C. Colson, Donna J. Hrinak, T. Gene Prescott, and Chanel T. Rowe were confirmed by the Senate for new or renewed five-year terms.
Bills of Interest
The following bills passed and will become law, unless vetoed by the Governor. Unless noted, the bills have not yet been reviewed by Governor DeSantis.
Note on Staff Analysis: Bills that are labeled “Eng.” after the bill number were amended while being heard by the Senate or House. The staff analysis will not be up to date for these bills unless the hyperlink is to “Final Staff Analysis”. The staff analysis is only updated after a committee meeting and after the final passage of the bill by both the Senate and House. Currently, the majority of the Final Staff Analyses are not available, but will be published in the coming weeks.
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. Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 52, First Eng. Postsecondary Education by Senators Ray Rodrigues and Baxley. 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 FY 2021-22 budget provides $15.5 million to fund the program.
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.
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. The bill was signed by Governor DeSantis on March 29, 2021. 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. 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.
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. Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/CS/SB 366, Second Eng. Educational Opportunities Leading to Employment by Senator Hutson. The bill:
Provides the statewide articulation agreement must establish three mathematics pathways for students by aligning mathematics courses to programs, meta-majors, and careers. A representative committee consisting of State University System faculty, faculty of career centers, and Florida College System institution faculty shall 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.
Provides that eligibility for initial enrollment in dual enrollment courses requires a student to demonstrate a level of achievement of college-level communication and computation skills through an approved common placement test or alternative method, to be approved by the State Board of Education.
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. Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/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. Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/CS/SB 1028, Second Eng. Education by Senator Hutson. 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.
Provides interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a public secondary school or public postsecondary institution must be expressly designated as one of the following based on the biological sex at birth of team members: males, men, or boys; females, women, or girls; or coed or mixed, including both males and females.
Athletic teams or sports designated for males, men, or boys may be open to students of the female sex.
Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.
A statement of a student’s biological sex on the student’s official birth certificate is considered to have correctly stated the student’s biological sex at birth if the statement was filed at or near the time of the student’s birth.
CS/CS/SB 1108, Second Eng. Education by Senator Diaz. 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. Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 1177 First Eng. Biscayne Bay by Representatives Avila and Duran. The bill creates the Biscayne Bay Commission as an advisory council within the Department of Environmental Protection 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, and projects 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.
The bill prohibits facilities for sanitary sewage disposal from disposing of waste into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment. Bill text and Final Staff Analysis.
CS/HB 1261, Third Eng. Higher Education by Representative Toledo. The bill:
Creates COVID-19 liability protections specifically for postsecondary educational institutions.
Creates a “buy one, get one free” (BOGO) tuition and fee waiver on upper-level courses in a program of strategic emphasis as identified by the BOG.
Provides a that an amount equivalent to 100% or 75% of the waived tuition and fees will be distributed to Bright Future recipients who take advantage of the BOGO waiver.
Subject to appropriations, a university can receive incentive funding for the BOGO waivers. The FY 2021-22 budget contains $25 million to fund this waiver.
Creates 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. This waiver is capped at 350 students per year for the SUS.
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. This waiver is capped at 1,000 students per year for the SUS.
Creates duties for postsecondary educational institutions relating to state financial aid and tuition assistance programs.
Requires state universities to provide specified career planning and other information to students.
Requires each university board of trustees to 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.
CS/CS/CS/HB 1507 First Eng. Workforce Related Programs and Services by Representatives Yarborough and Melo. 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 Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/CS/SB 1954, First Eng. 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 and necessary data collection for planning, vulnerability assessments that identify or address risks of flooding and sea level rise, the development of plans and policies that allow communities to prepare for threats from flooding and sea level rise and projects to adapt critical assets to the effects of 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 Entities: The DEP may provide funding to regional entities that are established by general purpose local governments and whose responsibilities include 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.
CS/CS/SB 2006, Second Eng. Emergency Management by Senator Burgess. The bill provides oversight and transparency requirements on the exercise of the executive branch’s and local government’s emergency powers.
Limits emergency orders, proclamations, and rules to 60-day durations that can be renewed as long as the emergency conditions persist.
Requires the Governor, when closing schools or businesses, to state specific reasons why the schools or businesses need to close and reassess the closure regularly.
Requires the Governor and state agencies to file emergency declarations or orders with the Division of Administrative Hearings.
Authorizes the Legislature to pass a concurrent resolution to terminate orders and directives issued under a state of emergency, instead of only the state of emergency itself.
Requires a state agency to submit to the Legislature a detailed spending plan, when possible, before accepting federal grants or private donations.
Requires the Auditor General to conduct financial and compliance audits of emergency state contracts and expenditures.
Requires an emergency order issued by a governmental entity that limits the rights or liberties of individuals or business to be “narrowly tailored” and serve a “compelling public health or safety purpose.”
Authorizes the Governor or Legislature to invalidate a city or county measure that “unnecessarily restricts individual rights or liberties.”
Provides that a city or county emergency order will automatically expire 7 days after its issuance and can only be renewed for a total of 42 days.
The bill forbids business, governmental entities, and educational intuitions for requiring customers, residents, or students to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery. The bill does not otherwise restrict screening protocols consistent with authoritative or controlling government-issued guidance to protect public health.
Governor DeSantis signed the bill on May 3, 2021 and issued two executive orders suspending all remaining local government mandates and restrictions based on the COVID-19 State of Emergency. #2021-101 and #2021-102. Bill text and staff analysis.
HB 5601, First Eng. Higher Education by House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill expands the existing salary cap of $200,000 for state university administrative employees to include all university faculty, except for those in the following fields:
Engineering Technologies and Engineering-Related Fields;
Florida Mental Health Institute;
Health Professions and Related Programs;
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Fields;
CS/HB 7017 First Eng. 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.
Agreements are prohibited between certain state entities and the seven countries of concern if the agreement contains specified provisions or requirements.
HB 7061, First Eng. Taxation by House Ways & Means Committee and Representative Payne. The bill creates sales tax holidays, tax reductions, and tax modifications. Of interest, the bill creates the following:
A ten-day “back-to-school” tax holiday from July 31 through August 9 for certain clothing, school supplies, and personal computers.
A ten-day “disaster preparedness” tax holiday from May 28 through June 6 for specified disaster preparedness items.
A seven-day “recreation” tax holiday from July 1 through July 7 for admissions to music events, sporting events, cultural events, specified performances, movies, museums, state parks, and fitness facilities and for purchases of boating and water activity supplies, camping supplies, fishing supplies, general outdoor supplies, and sports equipment.
Internship Tax Credit: 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. The combined total of the credits is $2.5 million per year and will be on a first- come, first-served basis.