State Legislature Weekly Update
Week 9 wrap
Budget negotiations continued throughout the weekend, and were finalized late Sunday night. The printed conference report was made public on Tuesday, allowing for 72 hours of review before both Chambers vote. No changes can be made to the final report by legislators, but the Governor has line item veto authority on the budget.
Budget items of interest to FGCU include:
Historically, about ten percent (10%) of the bills filed each year successfully navigate the process to become law. The last week of Session in each Chamber is devoted to the final opportunity for passage for hundreds of bills. Bills that pass both Chambers go to the Governor, who can sign, veto, or allow a bill to become law without his signature. Bills sent to the Governor during the first 8 weeks of Session must be acted upon within 7 calendar days. After the Session ends, successful bills are transmitted to the Governor in batches, and he has 15 days to act after presentation. Our report will focus on the successful bills.
The first fifty- seven days of this Session proceeded collegially, but the final three and a half days disintegrated into partisan procedures, slowing the process, and killing bills. Democrats in both Chambers strongly supported changes to Medicaid to allow for utilizing the federal dollars authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Select committees in each chamber held hearings on the issue, and came up with different approaches to the expansion. The Senate proposal used federal funding to create a voucher program whereby newly eligible citizens could purchase private insurance for their health care. The House, on the other hand, proposed a scaled down proposal which used no federal dollars, but covered fewer people. House Democrats supported the Senate version, but failed in an attempt to substitute it for the House bill after six hours of debate. The Democrat caucus subsequently decided to use House rules to require the reading in full of every bill, voting en bloc to achieve the one-third vote needed. The Republican majority limited debate to three minutes on each bill, but the reading process slowed progress to a crawl with hundreds of bills pending. Democrats used their debate time to talk about Medicaid rather than the bill before the House.
Bills of interest that died in the final week of Session:
SB 862 (Stargel) - Parent Trigger, SB 1392 (Simpson) Pension reform, SB 1816 (Negron) Medicaid expansion.
Bills that passed (full text of every bill available at www.flsenate.gov by bill number)
SB 1076-Legg, the landmark “Career and Professional Education Act” was signed into law Wednesday. The effective date is July 1, 2013. This new law provides for comprehensive K-20 career and education planning. Those portions of the new law pertaining to higher education include:
SB 1096-Montford- repealing redundant or duplicative provisions in law dealing with education passed both Chambers and was signed by the Governor April 29, which is the effective date of the changes.
Bills that passed both chambers with all changes engrossed
SB 1036- Detert Relating to a path to Independence for foster children who age out of the system, providing a comprehensive support structure in the higher education arena. Department of Children and Families will identify institutions that qualify for a DCF paid staff position at a college or SUS to assist previously dependent young adults with daily living skills as well as financial aid for college. The effective date is January 1, 2014.
HB 1145- LaRosa- relating to state owned or leased real property, including provisions for the BOG to provide an inventory of each SUS building by July 1 of each year (beginning 2013) to DMS and requiring all state owned facilities to report energy consumption and cost data. Effective date July 1, 2013.
HB 7029- Provides for secondary school students to take courses online through approved providers. Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the BOG must have rules to allow students to receive credit for online courses, including massive open online courses, prior to enrollment in a post-secondary institution. The rules of the State Board of Education and rules of the Board of Governors must include procedures for credential evaluation and the award of credit, including, but not limited to, recommendations for credit by the American Council on Education; equivalency and alignment of coursework with appropriate courses; course descriptions; type and amount of credit that may be awarded; and transfer of credit.
HB 1514- which contains the regulatory framework for the Florida Virtual Campus, including an online catalogue and this: “for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, a state university may enter into a local development agreement with an affected host local government, to identify specific projects in the university’s campus master plan to be constructed by the university, for purposes of negotiating mitigation of the impact of such projects on the host local government.”
HB 85- Steube- relating to Public-Private Partnerships adds such agreements to the definition of university debt, revising sources that may be used to secure or pay revenue bonds; authorizing revenues from royalties and licensing and auxiliary enterprise revenues to be used to secure debt for academic, educational, and research facilities that are part of a multipurpose project; authorizing academic and educational activities to be bonded without legislative approval of the specific project. Effective date July 1, 2013.
HB 5401 – Galvano- “Transparency Florida Act” which creates a public web portal for all financial information by political subdivisions of the state, to include: approved operating budget and disbursements; trust fund transactions; general revenue balance and disbursements; fixed capital outlay details for the life of the project; 10 years of history; links to audits and funded programs or projects; legislative budget requests, including any amendments; capital improvement plans, long range programs; Governor’s budget recommendation. DMS will establish and maintain a website with information on the salary and position of each employee by agency.
HB 1802- relating to employee health insurance, defining full time employment as an average of 30 hours per week, excluding seasonal workers paid from OPS funds. Effective January 1.2014, OPS employees who work an average of 30 hours per week are eligible to join the state group health plan with an employer contribution of $41.66 (individual) and $83.33 (family) as long as they remain employed. After the 2013-2014 year, the employer contribution will be set in the GAA.
HB 1810- increases the employer contribution to the state FRS; maintains the employee 3% contribution.
HB 1309- relating to accountability in public contracts and grants, with additional details to follow.
HB 585-Hood- relating to criminal background checks for certain public employees passed both Chambers on Friday and will be sent to the Governor. The effective date is July 1, 2013.
HB 801- Eagle- Changing the name in all statutory references from guidance counselor to “Certified School Counselor” to better reflect the professional status of these individuals passed both chambers unanimously Monday and will be sent to the Governor.
HB 113-Diaz- Relating to the knowing distribution of materials harmful to minors on public or private K-12 school grounds. Effective October 1, 2013.
HB 277- Rehwinkle-Vasalinda relating to real property assessments, exempting renewable energy devices from taxable value. Effective date July 1, 2013
SB 454-Benacquisto relating to state college police regulations and authority mirroring SUS campus police. Effective date: July 1, 2013.
SB 50-Negron which guarantees the public’s right to speak at public meetings prior to a vote. Effective date: October 1, 2013.
SB 1664- Legg- relating to educator preparation programs, certification, and the Florida Teachers Lead program. Effective date July 1, 2013
SB 52- Detert -making texting while driving a secondary traffic offense punishable with a fine and points. Effective date October 1, 2013
HB 4013- Santiago deletes caps on tax refunds for qualified defense contractors, space flight businesses, and qualified target industry business. Effective date July 1, 2013