In Week Five, the Senate and the House Appropriations Committees each heard their chamber’s proposed budgets for FY 2021-2022. Neither Chamber made changes related to higher education funding. Each chamber is scheduled to pass their respective proposed budgets during Week Six.
Budget Conforming Bills
Both the Senate and the House Appropriations Committee heard budget conforming bills relating to university employee salaries. Conforming bills make law changes to conform to funding or reductions in the proposed budgets.
HB 5601 Higher Education by House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill:
Requires all funds appropriated for Preeminent State Research Universities must be distributed equally.
Repeals the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program.
Provides minimum performance standards for institutions to be eligible to participate in the Effective Access to Student Education tuition assistance program.
Eliminates the Access to Better Learning and Education tuition assistance program.
Creates the Florida Integrated Library System.
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;
SB 2508 Employee Compensation by Senate Committee on Appropriations. The bill creates a salary cap of $180,000 for all university employees, including presidents and faculty, from “appropriated state funds.” For the purpose of the salary cap, “appropriated state funds” means “funds appropriated from the General Revenue Fund or the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.” Universities can pay salaries in excess of the cap from other types of funds. Bill text and staff analysis.
Board of Trustee Confirmations
The Senate must confirm both new and renewed trustee appointments to University Boards of Trustees. The Senate Education Committee unanimously recommended for confirmation FIU Trustees Dean C. Colson, Thomas Gene Prescott, and Chanel Rowe.
Bills of Interest Passed by the Senate or House
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.
SB 84 Retirement by Senator Ray Rodrigues. The bill closes after July 1, 2022 the Florida Retirement System pension plan (defined benefit plan) to new enrollees, except for those in the Special Risk Class. All new enrollees must participate in the investment plan. The bill will not impact employees who are currently members of the pension plan. (Final of two committees) Bill text and Staff Analysis.
CS/CS/SB 86 Student Financial Aid by Senator Baxley. Bright Futures
The bill provides 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 awards will be specified each year in the General Appropriations Act.
The bill provides that the 2021-2022 academic year will be the final year for initial eligibility for out-of-state students.
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.
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.
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 the 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/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. (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 531 Internship Tax Credit Program by Representatives Daley and Robinson. 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 bill requires each baccalaureate degree program offered at a Florida College System or state university system institution to offer an internship elective course beginning with students initially enrolling in the 2022-2023 academic year. The bill requires the elective course to allow a student to earn between 3 and 6 credit hours while completing a paid or unpaid internship in conjunction with classroom instruction. (First of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 573Fiduciary 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. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
HB 747 Resident Status for Tuition Purposes for Persons Serving Outside the State by Representatives Harding and McFarland. The bill prevents a person from losing resident status for tuition purposes solely by reason of serving out-of-state as civilian personnel on assignment for the United States Department of State, United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Department of Defense, or while teaching at a United States Department of Defense Dependent School. A child would not loose resident status solely for the child’s parents serving in such capacities. (First 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. (Second of four committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 835 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. (Second of three committees). Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 824 Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program by Senator Powell. The bill would allow a student who was found guilty of a felony while under the age of eighteen to qualify for Bright Futures. (First of three 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. (Final of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/SB 1108 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. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/HB 1177 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. (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. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
SB 1798 Higher Education by Senator Perry. 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. (First of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
CS/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 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/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.
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. (Second of three committees) Bill text and staff analysis.
SB 7070 Impact of COVID-19 on Educational Institutions by House Education Committee. The bill creates liability protections for an educational institution, including a state university, that has taken reasonably necessary actions to diminish the impact or the spread of COVID-19 and provides immunity from any civil damages, equitable relief, or other remedies relating to such actions. The liability protections apply retroactively to causes of actions accruing on or after the date of the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Bill text and staff analysis.
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