Your Weekly Legislative Update

March 16, 2020
Week Nine Session Summary
March 9 - March 13, 2020
Legislative Session 2020

In This Issue...



This is the ninth and final issue of Capitol Perceptions for the 2020 Legislative Session. A full 2020 Legislative Summary is being drafted and will be sent to all AFC members in about 30 days. Special thanks go to AFC Legislative Committee Chair Jack Capra (NWFSC), and Vice Chair Jessica Kummerle (CCF) for sharing their summaries and insights which contributed weekly to this publication. We could not have done this without these two top-notch college lobbyists.

State Budget, Coronavirus, and the FCS appropriation

The House and Senate appropriators agreed to a $92 billion plus state budget over the weekend. Among the final hurdles was the set aside of $25 million for battling the coronavirus, which is matched by $27 million from the federal government. The budget proposal must now wait 72 hours until final debate on it can be held in each Chamber. It is expected that will occur no later than Thursday, March 19, and will mark the end of the 2020 Legislative Session. The following is a summary of 2020-21 FCS funding:

Program Operating Funds

  • Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (Lottery) – $168,247,219
  • General Revenue - $1,076,168,013 (includes $23 million for Tier-based funding model; $6.6 million for college recurring projects/programs; $11.26 million for college non-recurring projects/programs and hurricane relief)

Incentive Funds

  • Student Success Incentive Fund – $20,000,000
  • Workforce Incentive Fund - $10,000,000
  • Industry Certifications (CAPE) - $14,000,000

Fixed Capitol Outlay (building construction, replacement, renovation at five colleges)

  • General Revenue - $6 million (nonrecurring)
  • PECO - $12.65 million (nonrecurring)


We have spent time in every issue updating you on bills we have been monitoring, including many we hoped would pass. In this final issue, we will highlight bills that have failed.

SB 774/HB 7081- Public Records and Meetings/Applicants for President/State University or Florida College System Institution (Sen. Diaz/House State Affairs Committee-Rep. Latvala)

The proposal provided an exemption from public records requirements for any personal identifying information of an applicant for president of a state university or Florida College System institution. It also provided an exemption from public meeting requirements for any portion of a meeting held for the purpose of identifying or vetting applicants for president of a state university or Florida College System institution. The bill provided that the exemption is subject to the Open Government Sunshine Review Act, and so it would have been repealed on October 2, 2025, unless saved from repeal by the Legislature. The Senate could not muster the 27 votes required to change a Sunshine Act provision.

  • SB 774, Placed on Special Order Calendar, 03/12/20
  • HB 7081, passed House 99-20, on 03/04/2020, received by Senate on 03/05/2020
  • Not taken up by the Senate.

HB 3231 The Florida College System Risk Management Consortium (Ponder)

Sadly, the Florida College System Risk Management Consortium needed this appropriation to make up for extraordinary payouts for deductibles resulting from hurricanes Michael and Irma, and other catastrophic weather events. As a result, colleges may have to be assessed to replenish the deductible reserve. Appropriation request was $18,668,823. There was an initial $5 million in the House Education budget offer #1, not met in the Senate Budget.

  • Was not heard in House Appropriations.
  • Died in Committee.

SB 62- K-12 Education (Sen. Stargel)

As amended this bill would have included language for funding in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the “Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program” to pay for private and home school students tuition and materials to offset the costs of Colleges having to provide these for free. It would include fall and spring 2020, and summer starting in 2021. Included much of the Dual Enrollment language from SB 1246. Stated that instructional materials are free-of-charge for students in private schools and home education programs, and private schools are exempt from the payment of tuition and fees for dual enrollment. Adds new requirements to the mental health plans that school districts and charter schools must submit in order to receive the mental health assistance allocation in the FEFP. Creates a new categorical in the FEFP to assist districts in increasing teacher salaries. Removes the July 1, 2020, expiration date for the funding compression allocation within the FEFP. Provides an exception that, if a new construction project is funded solely through local impact fees, such funds are exempt from the total cost per student station requirements.

  • Temporarily postponed in Senate Appropriations on 03/03/2020.
  • Died in committee.

SB 1246- Dual Enrollment (Sen. Stargel)

SB 1246, the original Dual Enrollment (DE) bill, modifies the dual enrollment and collegiate high school programs to ensure students have access to such programs, parents and legal guardians are informed of opportunities and responsibilities, and school districts and postsecondary institutions are provided financial support to offer dual enrollment opportunities to students. Much of the language of the bill was moved into SB 62.

Would create the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program in the Department of Education to reimburse eligible postsecondary institutions a specified amount for tuition and instructional materials for dual enrollment taken by private school and home education program students in the fall and spring term. Providing a full-time equivalent (FTE) student membership bonus in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) for students who complete general education core courses or an associate degree through dual enrollment and requiring school districts to allocate half of such funds to support academic guidance and postsecondary readiness.

  • Added to Senate Appropriations Committee on 02/20/2020.
  • Died in Committee.

HB 187- Postsecondary Education for Secondary Students (Zika)

The bill renames “collegiate high school programs” as “early college programs,” and expands the programs from 1 - 2 years and allows charter and private schools to establish programs with a state college, state university, or other eligible postsecondary institution. Provides free instructional materials to certain DE students. The bill requires the programs be made available to students in grades 11 and 12 and specifies that they must include an option for a student to graduate from high school with an associate degree. The bill also prohibits district school boards and Florida College System (FCS) institutions from limiting the number of eligible students who may enroll in dual enrollment programs, including early college programs, unless a 1-year waiver is granted by the Commissioner of Education.

The dual enrollment articulation agreement between an FCS institution and a school district must include at least one early admission program, career early admission program, or early college program. The bill requires articulation agreements to address the costs associated with courses delivered using technology to be borne by both entities. The bill establishes reporting requirements for district school boards, postsecondary institutions, and the Department of Education (DOE) regarding early college programs and dual enrollment articulation agreements.

The bill requires home education students to meet the same minimum common placement test score as other dually enrolled students for participation in college credit dual enrollment and limits the college credit dual enrollment exceptions to students who exceed the minimum score on the common placement test. The bill requires the dual enrollment transfer guarantees statement developed by the DOE to identify English and mathematics courses that require a grade of “C” or higher and include a notice stating that grades in college credit courses remain on the student’s permanent record. The bill appropriates $550,000 in recurring funds from the GAA to the DOE for Fiscal Year 2020- 2021. The bill has an indeterminate fiscal impact on public postsecondary institutions.

  • Added to 2nd Reading Calendar on 02/24/2020.
  • Not heard on floor in the House

HB 725/SB 418- Workforce Education (Diaz/Robinson)

This bill amends s. 1011.80, F.S., to authorize a school district career center to conduct an associate in applied science or an associate in science nursing degree program if the career center offering the associate in science nursing degree program offers it only to graduates of a licensed practical nursing program offered by the same center.

On 12/09/19 Sen Stargel voted and spoke against SB 418 in the Senate Education Committee where it passed 6-1. However, the Senator did not let SB 418 be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee that indicated HB 725 would not have a companion in the Senate. The House pushed the issue and passed HB 725 117-0 on 02/02/20

  • HB 725: Passed House 117-0 on 02/02/2020.
  • Received in Senate 3/2; not taken up
  • SB 418: Died in Committee

SB 1322/HB 6035- Postsecondary Fee Exemptions (Sen. Wright/Rep. Overdorf)

The proposal deletes an exemption from specified tuition and fees for students enrolled in approved apprenticeship programs at specified institutions, etc. The bill removes the tuition and fee exemption for students in approved apprenticeship programs that partner with school districts, Florida College System institutions, and state universities for the instructional portion of a program.

  • SB 1322 on Education Committee agenda, 02/17/20
  • Temporarily Postponed: Died in Committee
  • HB 6035 Not heard.
  • Died in committee.

HB 7087- Higher Education (Fine/Education Committee)

This was the proposal that provided for mergers of University of Florida and Florida Polytechnic University and University of Florida and New College of Florida, respectively. The bill revised the Florida Academic Scholars textbook award providing an additional stipend for textbooks if funds are specifically provided in the General Appropriations Act, in lieu of providing a $300 stipend for textbooks each fall and spring semester. The bill revised the Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) award effective for students initially eligible in the fall 2021 semester, to provide for the following:

  • An FMS student who is enrolled in an associate degree program at a Florida College System (FCS) institution is eligible for an award equal to 100 percent of tuition and applicable fees.
  • An FMS student who earns an associate degree at an FCS institution with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher is eligible for an award equal to 100 percent of tuition and applicable fees upon enrolling in a baccalaureate degree program at an eligible Florida postsecondary institution.
  • An FMS student who earns an associate degree at an FCS institution with a 2.75 cumulative grade point average or higher, but below a 3.5, is eligible for an award equal to 75 percent of tuition and applicable fees upon enrolling in a baccalaureate degree program at an eligible Florida postsecondary institution.
  • Added to 2nd Reading Calendar on 03/6/2020.
  • Withdrawn from consideration on 3/14/2020

We welcome you to track our progress weekly in Capitol Perceptions. Feel free to share it with a college friend who is not an AFC member. The online AFC Advocacy Toolkit is filling up with valuable and informative resources for you including a link to each week’s most recent 2020 AFC/FCS Bill Tracking Matrix. 

To review the Council of Presidents Legislative Budget Request CLICK HERE.


By Dara Kam
Recap and analysis of the week in state government and politics

TALLAHASSEE --- Mickey Mouse is on hiatus. Cruise ships are idle. And hoopsters and their fans are benched.

The world seems to have snapped tight its shutters, as global, national and state leaders strain to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Ron DeSantis feverishly responded to the highly contagious virus known as COVID-19 this week, declaring a state of emergency, suspending prison visitation and largely stopping travel by state workers.

The Republican governor also blocked people who have traveled internationally, been on cruise ships or been exposed to COVID-19 from visiting residents at long-term care facilities.

State universities told students not to come back to campus after spring break, and Florida education officials are training as many as 10,000 teachers to provide online instruction to schoolchildren.

Health officials are advising people to engage in “social distancing,” which many folks are interpreting as “stay home.”

But that option isn’t available for many Capitol insiders, as the 2020 legislative session crawls toward a conclusion.

The 60-day session was scheduled to end Friday, and legislators are expected to wrap up their policy-related business as planned.

But disputes between House and Senate leaders will force lawmakers to go into overtime to solidify the state budget. A vote on Florida’s roughly $92 billion state spending plan won’t take place until next week.

Activity on the fourth floor outside the House and Senate typically reaches a frenzy in the days leading up to the session’s finale. But this year, whether due to the coronavirus scare or the slow pace of the legislative maneuvering, not so much.

By the end of the week, legislative leaders had achieved most, if not all, of their priorities, amid farewell speeches and much hand sanitizing.

Lawmakers passed a measure that would ban insurers from using genetic information to price policies, pushed by incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor.

They signed off on a proposal to bring the state’s tobacco laws into compliance with federal law, by raising the age to use tobacco products --- including e-cigarettes and vaping products --- from 18 to 21, a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

DeSantis signed into law proposals, at the top of House Speaker José Oliva’s wish list, expanding the roles that advanced practice registered nurses and pharmacists play in Florida’s health-care system.

And on Thursday, the Senate delivered to the governor an E-Verify bill that was a cornerstone of his 2018 bid for governor.

But for those anxiously anticipating the outcome of budget negotiations, the late Floridian Tom Petty said it best: The waiting is the hardest part.


Republican lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a proposal that would impose a series of new restrictions on ballot initiatives, sending the measure to DeSantis with a party-line vote in the House.

The far-reaching proposal would increase a petition-signature threshold triggering Florida Supreme Court reviews, require all ballot measures --- including those placed on the ballot by the Legislature --- to have statements about potential impacts on the state budget and allow county elections supervisors to charge more to verify petition signatures.

During debate on the measure, House Democrats accused Republicans of trying to take power away from citizens who use the ballot-initiative process to amend the Florida Constitution when the Legislature ignores their wishes.

The proposed revisions also would reduce the length of time signatures are valid by limiting their use until Feb. 1 of the next even-numbered year, meaning the petitions could only be used for a single election cycle.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, said that provision “frustrates the petition process.”

“We’re being asked … to stifle the voices of the people that we work for,” she said.

But Rep. James Grant, a Tampa Republican who sponsored the House version of the proposal, said the changes to the process are designed to “protect the Constitution and preserve the republic.”


DeSantis quickly signed Oliva’s priority legislation, which passed after an intense lobbying tug-of-war between health care interests.

Physician groups, including the Florida Medical Association, have long fought proposals such as allowing advanced practice registered nurses to practice independently of doctors.

But Oliva pushed through an independent practice bill (HB 607) and a bill that expands the role of pharmacists, allowing them to enter agreements with physicians to treat patients for chronic illnesses, including arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, Type 2 diabetes, HIV, AIDS, obesity or “any other chronic condition” adopted in rules. The measure also allows pharmacists to treat for influenza, streptococcus, lice, skin conditions and minor, uncomplicated infections.

The Senate passed the pharmacy bill (HB 389) in a 28-12 vote, with the measure then getting final approval in a 98-17 vote in the House.

Senate sponsor Travis Hutson, R- St. Augustine, said the bill will provide additional options for people who require health care.

“All I want to be able to do in this bill, is allow individuals if they don’t want to go to an urgent care clinic and wait, to (instead) go to a simple pharmacy, have them do a simple test and then order up a treatment,” Hutson said.

But Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, noted physicians and pharmacists receive different training and that the training reflects in how they deliver care.

“I have a great deal of concern with the educational level (of pharmacists) and the ability to diagnose, the ability to recognize what you don’t know when you see a patient,” said Harrell, whose late husband was a physician.


A bill that would allow many businesses to decide whether to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new hires is in the hands of DeSantis.

The Republican governor has made a priority of cracking down on the hiring of undocumented immigrant workers, promising during his 2018 campaign that he would sign a bill that would require all public and private employers to use the E-Verify system.

The Senate, however, gave final approval Thursday night to a bill (SB 664) that would mandate all government employers use E-Verify, while making it optional for many businesses. The House had earlier passed the bill.

“This is fake E-Verify. People expected mandatory E-Verify. This is the opposite --- optional E-Verify,” Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican who is a staunch supporter of a statewide mandate, told The News Service of Florida after the bill passed.

Private employers who decide not to use E-Verify would be required to keep a three-year record of the documents used by workers to complete an “I-9” form, which federal law already requires businesses to use.

Businesses that receive state-funded economic incentives, however, would be required to use E-Verify. Also, government contractors would be required to use it.

All public employers --- such as local school districts, public universities and state agencies --- would have to use the federal program.

Years of attempts to pass an E-Verify bill failed in the Republican-led Legislature, but the push for the verification plan this year got a political boost from the governor.

“This has been a long journey. I really appreciate the full-throated support of Gov. DeSantis. Without him I wouldn't be standing here with his bill on the desk,” Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who carried the bill, told senators Thursday.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Gov. Ron DeSantis took a series of steps to address the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, such as declaring a state of emergency, suspending prison visitation and trying to make sure the virus doesn’t get into nursing homes.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’m Purell-ing all the time.” --- Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, referring to a popular brand of hand sanitizer.

Capitol Perceptions is compiled weekly during the Florida Legislative Session and distributed to AFC members.  

Capitol Perceptions - The Back Issues

Click the year to read back issues of Capitol Perceptions

201920182017 - 20162015201420132012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007