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Legislative Budget Update
The budget conference began in the evening on Friday, April 16th and continued meeting throughout the weekend.  The higher education subcommittees were not able to reach an agreement by the April 19th subcommittee deadline. The unresolved issues will be negotiated between the Appropriations Committee Chairs.  There is no deadline for the Chairs to reach an agreement; however, the budget must be in its final form no later than 11:59 pm on April 27th to comply with the Florida Constitution’s 72-hour budget “cooling off period.”  We will provide a detailed budget update when an agreement is reached on the FY 2021-2022 budget. 
Bills of Interest for the Governor’s Review
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 both the Senate and the House, and pending the Governor’s approval, will become law.

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. (Passed Senate; 38 Yeas, 0 Nays. Passed House; 118 Yeas, 0 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.        
 
Bills of Interest Passed by the Senate or House
The following bills of interest passed either the Senate or the House this week.

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. (Passed Senate; 17 Yeas, 0 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.

HB 997 First Eng. 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 beginning at the earlier of the date the final group of applicants to be considered for president is established or 21 days before the date of a meeting at which an interview of an applicant will be conducted or at which final action or a vote is to be taken on the offer of the employment of an applicant as president. (Passed House; 101 Yeas, 16 Nays)  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.  (Passed House; 117 Yeas, 0 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/HB 1475 Sex-specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports by Representative Tuck.  The Act 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. While the Act allows coed teams, it specifically reserves female teams for biological women and girls. The Act facilitates the handling of disputes involving a student’s biological sex and provides a safe harbor for a school or public postsecondary institution for maintaining separate interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports for female students.  (Passed House; 77 Yeas, 40 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.   

CS/CS/HB 1507 First Eng. 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. (Passed House; 117 Yeas, 0 Nays) Bill text and staff analysis.

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.
(Passed House; 117 Yeas, ) Bill text and staff analysis.

Note on Staff Analysis:  Bills that are labeled “Eng.” after the bill number have been amended while being heard by the Senate or House.   The staff analysis will not be up to date for these bills.  The staff analysis is only updated after a committee meeting and after the final passage of the bill by both the Senate and House.    
 
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.

CS/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.  (Final of four 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. (Final 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/CS/CS/HB 835 Employee Organizations by Representative Byrd.  The bill prohibits employee organizations from having its dues and uniform assessments deducted by a public employer, revises the information and documentation required to be included in an employee organization’s registration renewal application, authorizes an employer or bargaining unit employee to challenge the registration renewal application, requires certain employee organizations to recertify as bargaining agents, and excludes certain employee organizations from the provisions of the bill.  (Final of three committees). 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. (Final of three committees). Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/CS/HB 1347 Educational Opportunities for Veterans by Representative Benjamin.  The bill provides veterans who are Florida residents and have a 100 percent disability rating with tuition and fee assistance at a state college or state university.  The assistance is equal to any amount not covered by the veteran’s federal benefits. (Final 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. (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.   

SB 1456 Public Records/Assessment Instruments by Senator Ray Rodrigues.  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.  (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.        

CS/SB 1672 State University Free Seat Program by Senator Diaz.  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.        

CS/SB 1728 Out-of-state Fee Waiver for Nonresident Students by Senator Baxley.  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.  The bill also creates the “Grandchild Out-of-State Fees Waiver Compact”.  The compact only becomes effective when two or more states join.  Citizens of member states will receive a waiver of the out-of-state fee for nonresidents if the student has a SAT/ACT score of the 89th or higher percentile and the student has a grandparent who resides in a member state where the student is enrolled. (Final of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.        

CS/SB 2010 Foreign Influence by Senator Diaz.  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.
(Final of two committees) Bill text and staff analysis.

CS/SB 2012 Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity by Senator Stargel.  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. The bill prohibits athletic teams or sports designated for female students from being open to male students, and also specifies conditions under which persons who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category.  (Final of three 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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