Your Weekly Legislative Update

January 27, 2020
Week Two Session Summary
January 21 - January 24, 2020
Legislative Session 2020

In This Issue...



With so much of the statewide budget riding on education, it was the center of many things this week in the Florida Legislative Session. Two exciting advocacy events took place. School Board Members and Superintendents from across the state came to advocate for K-12 education issues. Also, hundreds of parents and students took over the Capitol to support the expansion of the Gardiner Scholarship in a rally organized by the Step Up for Students organization.

For the FCS and higher education, AFC monitored bills covered below began moving through the process. Each bill is updated for its current status and a couple new ones have been added. The action in committee will increase over the next week as it is close to when budget “allocations” are given to the respective committees. The committees then wrestle the allocation amounts into “appropriations” designated for each sector. Lawmakers must not only cover recurring appropriations, but also must factor in new funding requests. During week three we often see fewer policy bills being discussed, bills merged with other bills into committee bills, and other actions that facilitate the committees to prepare a state budget.

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. 


For a complete summary spreadsheet of all bills being tracked download each week’s: 2020 AFC/FCS Bill Tracking Matrix.

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

Priority Bills the AFC is tracking:

HB 3231: The Florida College Risk Management Consortium (Rep. Ponder/Sen. Hutson)
• APPROPRIATION Request: $18,668,823
• The Florida College System Risk Management Consortium;
• Provides an appropriation to offset extensive reserve payouts due to storms for deductibles.

HB 3231 passed House Higher Education Appropriations Committee on 12/3/19; Now in full Appropriations.

HB 171/SB 372: Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel (Rep. Ponder/Sen. Lee). 

• Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel BOG and SBE, in consultation with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to create a uniform process for the awarding of postsecondary credit to certain service members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces

HB 171 reported out of Education on 01/23/2020, placed on Calendar for 2nd reading.

SB 372 passed out of Appropriations on 01/23/20, placed on Calendar for 2nd reading. 

HB 725/SB 418: Workforce Education (Rep. Robinson/Sen. Diaz) 

• Authorizes school district career centers to offer an AAS or ASN degree program in nursing, but only to graduates of a licensed practical nursing program offered at that same career center.

HB 725 passed out HE Appropriations Subcommittee on 01/22/20, now in Education Committee.

SB 418 passed 6-1 in Education Committee, now in Appropriations Education Subcommittee.

HB 953: Charter Schools (Rep. McClain )

• Authorizes state universities & Florida College System institutions to sponsor charter schools;
• Revises reporting & accountability requirements; provides for funding;
• Authorizes career & professional academy to be offered by charter school.

HB 953 passed out of PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee on 01/15/2020. Now in Appropriations.

HB 187: Postsecondary Education for Secondary Students (Rep. Zika) 

• Provides reporting requirements for postsecondary institutions;
• Revises provisions relating to dual enrollment programs;
• Renames collegiate high school programs as early college acceleration programs;
• Revises requirements for such programs, provides free instructional materials to certain DE students

HB 197 reported out of PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee. Now in Appropriations.

SB 1246: Dual Enrollment (Sen. Stargel)

• Students eligible for dual enrollment programs include students who are enrolled in home education programs;
• Prohibiting district school boards and Florida College System institutions from denying students who have met eligibility requirements from participating in dual enrollment except under specified circumstances;
• Providing that certain independent colleges and universities are eligible for inclusion in the dual enrollment and early admission programs;
• Establishing the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program, etc.

SB 1246 favorable out of Education on 01/21/20.  Now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

SB 132/HB 55: Sunshine Scholarship Program Establishing the Sunshine Scholarship Program (Sen. Braynon/Rep. Jones

• Requires the Department of Education to administer the program;
• Requires certain financial aid to be credited to a student’s tuition and fees before the award of a Sunshine Scholarship;
• Requires a student to repay the scholarship amount under certain circumstances, etc.

SB 132 favorable out of Education on 01/21/20. Now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

HB 55 reported out of Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee (1/22/20); Now in Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

SB 774: Public Records and Meetings/Applicant for President/State University or Florida College System Institution
(Sen. Diaz)

• Providing 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;
• Providing an exemption from public meeting requirements for any meeting held for the purpose of identifying or vetting applicants for president of a state university or Florida College System institution and for any portion of a meeting held for the purpose of establishing qualifications of, or any compensation framework to be offered to, such potential applicants which would disclose personal identifying information of an applicant or potential applicant; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemptions; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.

SB 774 on Education Committee agenda for 01/27/20.



TALLAHASSEE --- Week two of the 2020 legislative session is in the books.

But bigger news was made this week at the Florida Supreme Court than at the building across the street, a Capitol chock full of lawmakers who are starting to develop session intrigue.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to reshape the Supreme Court, justices on Thursday gave a clear picture of how much the court has already changed since he took office last January.

In a 4-1 ruling, the new conservative majority backed away from a major 2016 ruling and said a unanimous jury recommendation is not necessary to impose death sentences in Florida.

Thursday’s majority opinion said the court “got it wrong” in 2016 when it required changes such as unanimous jury recommendations.

Justice Jorge Labarga, however, wrote a dissent arguing the majority “has taken a giant step backward and removed a significant safeguard for the just application of the death penalty in Florida.”

Hours before the ruling, nine nominees were announced as potential replacements for former justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, who were tapped last year by President Donald Trump for positions on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The nine nominees, put forward by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, include six state appellate judges, five women and one black candidate. DeSantis is expected to make appointments to the Supreme Court within 60 days.

DeSantis has made a priority of revamping the court, and he has made clear his next picks will bolster the conservative majority. The topic was a pillar of DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign, following years of Republican leaders expressing frustration at rulings by a generally liberal court.

With issues starting to brew during the 2020 session, the new conservative majority should be a comfort to GOP legislative leaders.


The House on Wednesday approved a proposal that would ask Florida voters in November to eliminate a powerful panel that placed seven constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot --- all of which passed.

The proposal, which seeks to end the Constitution Revision Commission, still must go before the Senate, which backed eliminating the commission during last year’s session.

House sponsor Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, said the commission might have once served a valid purpose, but it had “too much political influence” in its 2018 incarnation.

The 37-member commission meets every 20 years and has the unique power to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. It was established by voters as part of the 1968 Florida Constitution.

Most of the members are appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, which in the 2018 cycle meant appointments by former Gov. Rick Scott, former House Speaker Richard Corcoran and former Senate President Joe Negron, all of whom are Republicans.


A House draft proposal intended to allow athletes to cash in on their names and images would also require universities and colleges to provide financial aid and health coverage to athletes.

The proposal, released Thursday by the House Commerce Committee, outlines potential compensation for “name, image, likeness or persona” but maintains that pay for on-field performance would remain off limits.

Under the proposal, schools would be required to provide athletes with health and disability insurance and conduct financial-aid and life-skills workshops for athletes in their freshman and junior years.

“It’s really a bill of rights, and it’s focused on their time while in school,” said Commerce Chairman Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud.

The idea of allowing off-field compensation for college athletes has drawn support from DeSantis, a former college baseball player. DeSantis backed the idea after California passed a law last year to allow college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals starting in 2023.


A Senate panel on Wednesday split along party lines as Republicans pushed through a bill that would require teenage girls to get consent from their parents before having abortions.

The Senate bill cleared the Rules Committee in a 9-7 vote on the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held women have a fundamental right to decide whether to have abortions.

Bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said she wasn’t aware of the timing of the bill being taken up on the Roe v. Wade anniversary.

“That’s not an anniversary that I actually look to, so I actually didn’t even know that was actually occurring,” Stargel said. “Again, I think this is strengthening the family and making sure that when you have those difficult situations that there is a conversation. A discussion.”

Wednesday’s vote positions the bill to go to the Senate floor and keeps the measure on track to pass during this year’s session, handing conservatives a victory ahead of the November elections. The House version also is ready for a floor vote.

STORY OF THE WEEK: The Florida Supreme Court reversed itself on Thursday, ruling that unanimous jury recommendations are not needed to impose death sentences.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “They don’t make any moves unless we ultimately, if someone ultimately, pushes them. And in this case, we decided it would have to be us.” --- Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, referring to NCAA officials’ involvement in the issue of allowing compensation for college athletes.

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

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