State Legislature Weekly Update
With only one more week left to Session, and most Committee work finished, both Chambers spent their long days hearing dozens of bills on Special Order, getting them ready for final passage in the last week. Meanwhile, conference committees met beginning last Friday. Subcommittees of the budget conference negotiated agreed upon spending within their areas of jurisdiction over the weekend and the early part of the week. Unresolved issues “bumped” to the two Appropriations chairs on Tuesday. If any issues remain unresolved, final decisions rest with the House Speaker and Senate President. The final budget, known as a conference report, must be placed on the members desks next Tuesday for the Session to end on time Friday, May 3rd. Until the completed budget is printed, changes can still be made, making budget conference negotiations a very fluid and delicate process.
The brightest spot of the week was the Wednesday visit to the Capitol by members of the FGCU men’s basketball team accompanied by President Bradshaw, Board of Trustees Chair Robi Roepstorff, Athletic Director Ken Kavanaugh, Director of Basketball Operations Joey Cantens and Azul who danced his way into everyone’s hearts. The team were recognized and praised in both the House and Senate Chambers, and by Governor Scott. Each chamber adopted a resolution honoring the team’s accomplishments during the NCAA Tournament, sponsored by the delegation members from the communities we serve. Legislators wearing blue and green added their personal comments of congratulations. Speaker Weatherford said “ No one in America has ever done what you did. We are so proud of you!” Later, Governor Scott invited the visitors into his private office for a cordial meeting with photos.
We will concentrate this report on the bills that pass both Chambers, or were signed into law by the Governor. Many of the major bills we have followed through Session have stalled pending resolution of the budget. Tuition increase for next year, pension plan changes, massive open online courses, funding for facilities projects, public-private partnership rules, texting while driving, are all in a holding pattern.
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 sent to the Governor. He has until 4/29 to sign, veto, or allow it to become law without his signature.
HB 585-Hood relating to criminal background checks for certain public employees passed both Chambers on Friday and will be sent to the Governor.