Your Weekly Legislative Update

March 9, 2021
Week One Session Summary
March 2 - March 5, 2021
Legislative Session 2021

In This Issue...


2021 Legislative Session Highlights 

Published weekly during the legislative sessions, Capitol Perceptions provides updates on current legislative issues and their progress throughout the session. We would like to thank our AFC Legislative Committee Chair, Jessica McClain from the College of Central Florida, and Vice-Chair, Lacey Hofmeyer from Broward College, for their hard work and assistance in compiling the weekly session highlights and bill updates.

This week, committees began on Monday, will meet twice, and continue meeting until Friday morning.

The House filed two leadership priority bills on workforce education, HB 1505 and HB 1507, last Monday. Last Thursday, both bills were heard and passed in their first committee. On Tuesday, they will be presented in their second committee stop, House Post-Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning.    

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 2021 AFC/FCS Bill Tracking Matrix.


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

Bills the AFC is tracking:

HB 311: Public Records/Assessment Instruments (Silvers)

• Public Records/Assessment Instruments: Expands examination & assessment instruments which are confidential & exempt from public record requirements; provides for future review & repeal of the exemption; provides statement of public necessity. Effective Date: July 1, 2021

Added to Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee agenda on Friday, March 5, 2021 4:14 PM

HB 847: Florida Postsecondary Academic Services Library Network (Byrd) 

• Deletes provisions for Florida Academic Services Library Services Cooperative and Complete Florida Plus Program; revises provisions for statewide Internet-based catalog & online student advising services; provides duties for the Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network. Effective Date: July 1, 2021

Added to Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee agenda on Friday, March 5, 2021 4:14 PM

HB 1505: Workforce Programs and Services (Melo) 

• Requires DOE & DCF, in consultation with DEO, to implement automated consumer-first workforce system; requires DEO to develop training for specified partners; requires certain DOE standards & policies to include specified requirement for training providers; provides criteria for work-based learning opportunity; requires that certain resources be used in career & education planning courses & character development curriculum; provides requirements for certain student career service centers & courses for digital credential.

Added to Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee agenda on Friday, March 5, 2021 4:14 PM

HB 1507: Workforce Related Programs and Services (Yarborough)

• Creates Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help; creates & revises provisions relating to workforce services including the Labor Market Estimating Conference, workforce opportunity portal, state board composition, Credentials Review Committee, state plan requirements, waivers, local workforce development boards, Master Credentials List, CAPE Industry Certification Funding List, industry certifications, SEAS program, workforce development metrics, Florida Talent Development Council, Open Door Grant Program, preapprenticeship & apprenticeship program grants, & Money-back Guarantee Program.

Added to Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee agenda on Friday, March 5, 2021 4:14 PM

SB 86: Student Financial Aid (Baxley) 

• Requiring that eligibility for state financial aid awards and tuition assistance grants be reevaluated each term and identify students’ program of study; revising the formula for calculating how Florida Public Student Assistance Grant Program funds are distributed; authorizing a Bright Futures Scholarship recipient to apply the unused portion of a Florida Academic Scholars award or Florida Medallion Scholars award toward graduate study for a specified academic year; establishing the Florida Bright Opportunities Grant Program; establishing the Florida Endeavor Scholarship Program, etc.

03/04/21 S On Committee agenda-- Education, 03/09/21, 3:30 pm, 412 Knott Building on Thursday, March 4, 2021 3:29 PM

SB 532: Workforce Education (Burgess)

• Revising the workforce education programs that school district career centers are authorized to conduct, etc.

03/04/21 S On Committee agenda-- Education, 03/09/21, 3:30 pm, 412 Knott Building on Thursday, March 4, 2021 3:29 PM

SB 1436: Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network (Gruters)

• Revising provisions relating to the awareness of certain postsecondary education programs and initiatives; deleting provisions relating to the Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative; providing that the Board of Governors and the Department of Education will oversee a host entity chosen to deliver certain services; transferring responsibility for certain statewide online student advising services to the host entity; requiring the chancellors of the State University System and the Florida College System to provide a certain report, etc.


The debate over Bright Futures starts this week --- BY ANDREW ATTERBURY

Bright Futures — While top GOP lawmakers were doubling down on their plans for retooling the $650 million Bright Futures scholarship program, students across Florida began mounting opposition efforts. One online petition fighting the measure has eclipsed 63,000 signatures with the bill teed up for its first hearing on Tuesday.

For the grandparents — Students seeking a college degree and more time with their grandparents may get a break this session. A bill making its way through the House would grant out-of-state students in-state tuition rates — if their grandparents are full time residents. Sorry, snowbirds!

Cruising through — The proposed new Florida Postsecondary Academic Library Network, an agency that is needed after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a longstanding online learning program during the early days of Covid-19, is getting its second hearing this week.

Welcome to Florida Higher Ed Watch, the weekly digest of college and university news in the Sunshine State. Questions? Tips? Events? Email me at [email protected], and follow @alatterbury for real-time updates throughout the week.


DIMMED FUTURES: On the opening day of the 2021 session, Senate President Wilton Simpson said Florida’s Bright Futures moniker is “misleading” because the scholarships don’t necessarily lead students toward employment after graduation.

The Trilby Republican downplayed the potential cost savings that could be recouped from scaling back the more than $650 million scholarship, insisting that that the main purpose behind the legislation is to ensure that Florida graduates find careers.

“When you tell folks that are entering into the college or university system ‘You’re going to have a bright future,’ we’re lying to them in some cases,” Simpson told reporters Tuesday. “Because a lot of the degrees that would be received from that university do not lead to jobs that would create that bright future.”

OPPOSITION MOUNTING: Florida students are rallying against a proposal from Senate Republicans that would dramatically reshape the state’s widely popular Bright Futures college scholarship.

Opposition campaigns have sprouted on social media as students claim the legislation — which aims to tailor the coveted financial aid to degrees that lead directly to jobs — would result in more college debt and limit their career choices.

“It’s a debate between having money or following your passion,” said Thomas Truong, a high school junior in Orlando who is part of one opposition effort.

More: Parents, students concerned about effort to cut Bright Futures funds

I was a liberal arts major. Education is about more than jobs | Opinion

Sen. Baxley’s Big Idea: Let’s take scholarship money away from college kids who want to major in useless subjects like art, history, philosophy

WHAT ABOUT US: Some faculty at the University of Florida and other higher education institutions around the state are unhappy about being left out of the latest Covid-19 vaccine updates from the state and federal government, the Gainesville Sun reports.

New orders announced Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis have now added teachers and school staff, regardless of age, to the priority list — but only those working in K-12 education.

"Our lives and the lives of our students are not disposable," wrote in a statement Thursday.

COMEBACK SEASON: The University of South Florida plans a full return to campus this fall, with classes and activities resuming in person, USF president Steve Currall announced on Wednesday.

The university has been operating during the pandemic on a phased return plan with some courses meeting online only, others in-person and still others with a mix of both, the Tampa Bay Times, reports.

More: UCF looks forward to ‘full return’ during fall semester with more in-person classes

USF students ‘hesitant’ about returning to in-person classes

INVESTIGATION PENDING: The University of Florida has placed on paid leave a tenured engineering professor who was accused by his Chinese graduate student of academic misconduct and abusive personal behavior before the student killed himself on campus, WUFT reports.

ALL ABOUT CHINA: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and top GOP lawmakers unveiled legislation on Monday to create new guidelines for universities, state agencies and even local governments working with foreign governments like China as part of a push to thwart the theft of intellectual property.

DeSantis’ move to back policies aimed at China is part of a broader pattern of endorsing legislation sparked by conservatives and former President Donald Trump that plays well with the base.

NEGATIVE TREND: During the last recession, enrollment at community colleges jumped up by 33 percent. Adults flocked to the two-year institutions in hopes of attaining the skills necessary for more secure jobs after the economy stabilized. This time around, community colleges aren’t so lucky, WUFT reports.


CLOSE TO GRANDMA: A proposal is advancing in the House that would allow high-performing students who live outside of Florida to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities if their grandparents reside in the Sunshine State.

The measure FL HB1273 (21R) is dubbed the “grandparent tuition waiver bill” by House sponsor Patt Maney, R-Shalimar, as reported by the News Service of Florida.

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

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