Executive Secretary, Government Relations
2014 Session Week 6
The House has yet to release its budget conferees for this Session, so budget conference meetings were not scheduled last week. It is my understanding several major issues have made it difficult for the two chambers to begin negotiations. Leadership and staff will be working this week to prepare for a rapid and condensed budget process due to the approaching 72 hour rule for the members review of the budget (April 29th for a May 2nd on time finish) and Passover and Easter Holidays. As soon as House conferees are named, we will provide that information. Note: Both our Student Success request ($5.7 M recurring) and Emergent Technologies Institute (7.6 M non-recurring) are part of the conference process.
Committee and Floor Action
With the 2014 Session winding down, regular committees will stop meeting to conduct business. Rules can be waived to schedule meetings if necessary, but generally bills that have not been heard or still have committee references are done for this Session. With that said, below are bills that were heard last week in Committee or on chamber floors.
CS/SB 1114- State Retirement (Senate Community Affairs Committee) HB 7173 (House State Affairs Committee)
Currently, the bills are extremely similar, so an agreement may have been reached.
CS/SB 1114 makes the following changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS), for members initially enrolled in the FRS on or after July 1, 2015:
The bill also lowers the employee’s contribution rate from 3% to 2% for all members of the investment plan. However, the overall amount transferred into the investment plan member’s account remains the same – with an increase in the employer contribution being substituted for the decrease in employee contribution.
CS/SB 1114 creates a limited exception to the prohibition on renewed membership in the Florida Retirement System. A retiree of the investment plan, the Senior Management Service Optional Annuity Program (SMSOAP), the State University System Optional Retirement Program (SUSORP) or the State Community College System Optional Retirement Program (SCCSOAP) who retired before July 1, 2010, has earned less than 10 years of creditable service, and is employed in a regularly established position with a covered employer on or after January 1, 2015, will be a renewed member in the FRS as follows:
Renewed members will have to meet the vesting requirements of the plans in which they become renewed members. Creditable service does not accrue for a retiree’s employment in a regularly established position with a covered employer from July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2014, nor may employer or employee contributions be paid into a renewed member’s investment plan account for employment with a covered employer during this time period.
HB 7157-State Group Health Insurance Program (House Health and Human Services)
Currently, no Senate bill has been introduced, but due to the fiscal nature of the bill it is likely this will become a part of the conference negotiations.
Premium Alternative Options
The bill directs the department to recommend premium alternatives for the 2016 plan year that reflect the cost to the program for the medical and prescription drug benefits, along with associated administrative costs and fees. The department is to report the results to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate by December 1, 2014 for consideration in establishing premiums for the 2016 plan year during the 2015 Legislative Session.
The bill allows DMS to contract for additional products to be included in the state program, and directs DMS to contract with at least one entity that provides comprehensive pricing and inclusive services for surgery and other medical procedures. These bundled services will be another option for state employees. The selected entity must provide an educational campaign for employees to learn about the offered services.
By January 15 of each year, DMS must report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the participation level and cost-savings to both the enrollee and the state resulting from the contract.
Transparency Pilot Program
The bill directs DMS to implement, beginning in 2015, a 3-year price transparency pilot project. The purpose of the pilot is to reward value-based pricing by publishing the prices of certain diagnostic and surgical procedures and sharing any savings generated by the enrollee’s choice of providers. Participation in the project will be voluntary for state employees.
By January 1 of 2016, 2017, and 2018, the department shall report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the participation level, the amount paid to enrollees, and cost-savings to both the enrollees and the state resulting from the price transparency pilot project.
Additional Benefit Choices
Beginning in the 2017 plan year, the bill provides that state employees will have health plan choices at four different benefit levels. These levels are:
The state will make a defined contribution for each employee toward the cost of purchasing a health plan. Employees will have the following options:
Prescription Drug Program
The bill amends s. 110.12315, F.S., to allow an enrollee in either the PPO or HMO plan option to fill a prescription for a 90-day supply of a maintenance drug by mail order or at a retail pharmacy. The reimbursement rate for the retail pharmacy shall be the same as the reimbursement rate for mail order. Also, the copayment will be the same for the enrollee whether the prescription is filled by mail order or at a retail pharmacy.
Independent Benefits Consultant
The bill also directs DMS to competitively procure an independent benefits consultant (IBC). The IBC must not be, or have a financial relationship, in an HMO or insurer. Additionally, the IBC must have substantial experience in designing and administering benefit plans for large employers and public employers.
The IBC will assist DMS in developing a plan for the implementation of the new benefit levels in the state program. The plan shall be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than January 1, 2016, and include recommendations for:
The IBC will assist DMS in preparing recommendations for any modifications to the state group insurance program no later than January 1 of each year which shall be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
CS/HB 541 – Public Private Partnerships (Representative Greg Steube) CS/CS/SB 900 (Senator Latvala)
The bills authorize state universities or certain direct-support organizations (DSOs) to utilize public-private partnerships (P3s) as an alternative procurement process to build, upgrade, operate, own, or finance qualifying projects. CS/CS/SB 900 passed Senate Education Appropriations Committee. The Senate bill is now in Senate Appropriations Committee and the House bill is in House Appropriations Committee; their final committee references.
CS/CS/SB 1400(Senator Latvala)
It is my understanding below are the companion bills related to in-state tuition and undocumented students. The bills are similar, but will need to either go through an amendatory process or be worked out during the conference process, which would result in a strike-all version of the bill for final passage. I have highlighted what I consider the major differences in the bills.
The House version of the bill has passed the House and is over in the Senate for consideration, but with the differences in the two versions it is still not clear whether the legislation will prevail.
CS/CS/CS/HB 851(Representative Nunez)
CS/CS/HB 1059- Relating to Nursing Education Programs (Representative Pigman) CS/CS/SB 1036 (Senator Grimsley)
The bills establish a schedule for all registered nurse pre-licensure programs approved by the Board of Nursing (BON) to become accredited by a specialized nursing accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The House bill was heard in its last committee of reference and is available for the House floor calendar. The Senate bill passed the full Senate and should be in House messages for consideration next week.
SB 1292-Post Secondary Education, Library Automation (Senator Legg)
CS/SB 1292 restructures governance and functionality of online public postsecondary student support services related to libraries, online courses, and online student advising systems.
Specifically, the bill creates the Complete Florida Plus Program (Program) within the Innovation Institute at the University of West Florida and transfers the requirements and responsibilities associated with student support services that are currently administered through the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) to the new Program. The bill also establishes the Florida Center for Library Automation (Center) and reassigns the duties and resources regarding online library support services that are currently administered by the FLVC to the new Center. Additionally, the bill renames the Complete Florida Degree Program as the Complete Florida Degree Initiative (Initiative) and restructures the related functions under the new Program.
SB 1710- Post Secondary Education (Senate Education Committee)
Now in Senate Appropriations Committee
We will continue to monitor these issues and other important legislative proposals.