FEA Frontline Report
2018 Legislative Session
Week 2 – Day 11 %%detect_both%% January 19, 2018
Shortened week, no shortage of bad ideas
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands
at times of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The legislature took Monday off to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The rest of the week they focused mainly on
appropriations projects in the House and mostly non-controversial policy in the Senate. While we got a reprieve this
week on the union decertification bill (HB 25/SB 1036) and the bully voucher bill (HB 1/SB 1172), we won’t be so lucky
HB 25 will be heard on the floor of the House Wednesday, with a final vote likely on Thursday. Click here to take
action and tell your Representative to VOTE NO on HB 25.
SB 1172 has been placed on the Senate Education committee for Monday, January 22nd. Click here to take action and
tell members of the Senate Education committee to VOTE NO on SB 1172.
Bills, bills, bills
The Senate Education committee had a light load on Tuesday, including SB 496 out-of-school suspension by Senator
Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake). This bill allows parents to testify at a school board public hearing on the district's out-of-
school suspension policy. The bill requires the district to review its policy every 3 years, including student counseling and
academic programs. The bill also creates a student suspension database that includes student disability status, race,
gender and rate of recidivism of each student who has undergone suspension. You may remember this bill as it was filed
last session. SB 496 passed the Senate Education committee unanimously.
On Wednesday the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee heard one of the two higher education re-write bills: HB
423 by Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers). During the 2017 legislative session the House and Senate passed SB 374,
which was a complete re-write to higher education for both the colleges and universities. That bill was later vetoed by
the governor. This year SB 374 has been amended and split into two bills – HB 423 (its companion SB 4, passed the
Senate unanimously last week) addresses state universities, while SB 540/HB 831 addresses colleges.
HB 423 establishes a block tuition program for each state university beginning in 2019, authorizes the use of Bright
Futures Scholarships during the summer term if appropriations are available in the state budget, and expands the Bright
Futures Academic Scholars award to cover 100% of tuition and fees, plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks
and college-related expenses. The bill also establishes the World Class Faculty and Scholarship Program to support
efforts of state universities to recruit and retain high ranking faculty and research scholars and makes changes to the
performance-based funding model to establish more parity in the funding that goes to all universities. HB 423 passed
the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee by 12-1 vote. UFF and FEA have serious concerns about an amendment
adopted in committee that requires universities to survey about the “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” at
SB 540 by Senator Hukill (R-Port Orange) was heard also on Wednesday in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher
Education. This bill changes the governance structure of state colleges from the State Board of Education to a new
structure called the State Board of Community Colleges. The bill prohibits community colleges from offering Bachelor of
Arts degrees and caps upper-level, undergraduate enrollment to 20% of total full time equivalent enrollment at that
community college. The bill also changes the performance based incentives awarded to college institutions using specific
metrics, one of which changes the graduation rate from 6-years to 4-years. SB 540 passed committee by 6-1 vote. UFF
Senate has passed a resolution in opposition to changes in the governance structure and the caps on programs needed
by the communities serviced by the colleges.
Also on Wednesday the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee heard several bills including HB 1031 by Rep. Fischer (R-
Jacksonville). The bill is similar to a proposal currently before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), placing an
amendment on the 2018 ballot to limit the terms a school board member to eight consecutive years. The bill would
apply retroactively to those members serving on the school board since 2013. Rep. Shev Jones (D-West Park) asked the
sponsor why this bill was needed when it was currently being proposed by the CRC. To which Rep. Fischer replied “It
may not pass the CRC!” After many members, Republican and Democrat alike expressed serious concerns about the bill,
it ultimately passed by a 12-2 vote, with only Reps. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoee) and Rick Roth (R-Palm Beach Gardens) in
On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to hear SB 1048 by Senator Baxley. This bill would allow a
church, synagogue, or other religious institution to authorize an individual licensed to carry a concealed weapon or
firearm on any property the religious institution owns, leases, rents, borrows, or otherwise uses. Yes, even if that
location is a school facility or building, a college or university facility, or any other place where carrying a firearm is
illegal. We were poised for a good fight on SB 1048. So was the sea of Moms Demand Action members wearing red in
the committee room, but due to some other controversial bills up before it, the committee ran out of time and SB 1048
was TP’d (Temporarily Postponed). We expect the bill to be back on the next committee agenda, Thursday, January 25th
“Schools of Hope”
On Wednesday the State Board of Education approved rules for charter school operators to create “schools of hope”
charter schools in neighborhoods with low-performing, high-needs public schools, which was one of many controversial
provisions found within HB 7069. The board also approved 14 more schools that applied for additional funding (up to
$2,000 per student) for wrap-around services under the “schools of hope” provision for neighborhood public schools.
These 14 schools were in addition to the 11 already approved at the November board meeting.
As you likely know, FEA has been a longtime advocate for additional funding and support for struggling schools. The
inclusion of wrap-around services championed by Senator David Simmons (R-Longwood), was one of the few positive
provisions found within HB 7069. Senator Simmons has filed SB 1684 this session, legislation that would change the
differentiated accountability process and push for additional funding for wrap-around services in more high-needs
schools. In a climate where House and Senate leadership are prioritizing private and charter schools while starving
neighborhood public schools we question whether this bill will even have a chance at a committee hearing.
Constitution Revision Commission
The Education Committee of the CRC will meet Friday afternoon to discuss and debate several education proposals
aimed at weakening our public education system. These are issues that could be placed on the 2018 November election
ballot for voters to decide. The committee meeting is scheduled from 1-6 pm. You can visit
https://thefloridachannel.org/ and click on the CRC live stream to watch the committee in action. Some of the proposals
? P. 71 Charter School Authorizers would allow other agencies, not just school boards, to authorize new charter
schools. This is an attack on local control and an invitation to invite prospective charter owners to shop for the
easiest way to start a new charter.
? P. 93 High Performing Charter Districts would allow school boards or voters to turn the school district into a
charter district. These districts would not be required to follow laws and rules that apply to traditional school
districts and create an alternative system of education.
? P. 45 Public Education and P. 4 Religious Freedom would remove the restriction in the Florida Constitution
against public funding of private and religious schools.
Members in the House and Senate
We’d like to thank our members from Pinellas who traveled to Tallahassee to lobby their legislators. Please click here
https://feaweb.org/planning-a-session-visit-let-us-know-when to notify PPA of your travel dates, members’ and local
staff names and contact information for the team. This will help the PPA team prepare materials in advance and
schedule adequate time to serve your members. As you pack for your trip, please remember to dress in appropriate
business attire (dresses, dress slacks with blouses or sweaters, or suits) and don’t forget your comfortable dress shoes.
Winter weather can be tricky in Tallahassee. We recommend bringing a layers, a jacket and an umbrella.
If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact FEA PPA at 850-224-2078.
Questions? Call PPA at 850-224-2078.
Thanks to Sharon Nesvig for being my Mr. Clippy (Mr. Clippy needs to make a comeback, I miss him!) Thanks to Ron
Bilbao and Tina Dunbar for bill content and Cathy Boehme for SBE content.