Your Weekly Legislative Update

February 15, 2022
Week Five Session Summary
February 7 - February 11, 2022
Legislative Session 2022

In This Issue...


2022 Legislative Session Highlights 

✓ Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti provided an update on the Council of Presidents' legislative agenda and priorities at the State Board of Education meeting on February 9, 2022. In reiterating the priorities of the COP, she stated that, “The $60 million [in recurring funding] that we request will not address the entire nursing shortage across the state. That is the message that we are continuing to share with the Legislature. We do need additional funding in order to help our students and make sure they have what they need so they can graduate.” Regarding PECO, President Garcia Falconetti said, “As a system, we have more than $1 billion in PECO needs. We have about $339 million in deferred maintenance funds. We have asked for the reinstatement of funding that was eliminated in 2019, which equates to $39.8 million.” As to the OPPAGA study on the State Health Care Plan, she mentioned that the COP continues to have robust conversations about the impact of the study and implications to the state and FCS. Finally, President Garcia Facolnetti featured Accelerate Florida as the Florida College System plan to assist in adequately addressing workforce needs through the FCS institutions. “Its goal is to ensure that half a million students complete academic and workforce programs by 2025. It is directly aligned with the Get There Florida campaign."

✓ During the State Board of Education meeting, the FCS addressed spending of its ESSER funds from the three tranches of federal funds (CARES, CRSSA, and ARP). Of note, workforce support was mentioned as an area that the Department sought to support during the pandemic. The Department stated that Florida has spent about 90% of the CARES ESSER funds, 50% of the CRRSA funds, and is finalizing plans and working with the Legislature to direct remaining funds to the districts. Florida is now at 12th in the nation for having spent the funds provided and is the largest among the top 12. 

✓ The 2022 Legislative Session hit its half-way point this week. Committees will likely meet for two more weeks (the week of the 14th and the 21st). Any bills that have not passed out of their assigned committees in the next two weeks are not likely to move forward this Legislative Session. 



House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education




House Appropriations Committee

House Education & Employment Committee

Published weekly during the legislative session, Capitol Perceptions provides updates on current legislative issues and their progress throughout the session. 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 2022 AFC/FCS Bill Tracking Matrix.


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

Bills the AFC is tracking:

SB 7044: Postsecondary Education

The Senate Education Committee heard the Committee Bill 7044 (“Postsecondary Education”). The bill does many things. Of most import, the bill creates Florida Statute 1008.47 which prohibits an FCS institution from being accredited by the same accrediting agencies or associations for consecutive accreditation cycles. It also provides a cause of action for any postsecondary education institution that is negatively impacted by a retaliatory action by its accrediting agency or association. This statute expires on December 31, 2032. 

HB 5201: Higher Education (Appropriations Committee and Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and Plasencia)

HB 5201 establishes requirements for open education resources, Student Open Access Resource Repository, Student Open Access Resource Grant Program, Linking Industry to Nursing Education (LINE) Fund, Prepping Institutions, Programs, Employers, and Learners through Incentives for Nursing Education (PIPELINE) Fund; revises provisions relating to William L. Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program, Florida Talent Development Council, & Florida Center for Nursing. 

House Bill 5201, the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee’s bill, will be heard on the House floor on February 15, 2022. 

SB 722 / HB 1515: Education for Student Inmates (Perry and Clemons)

SB 722 amends Fla. Stat.  944.801 to allow the Department of Corrections to contract with a Florida College System institution to provide education services in the Correctional Education Program.  The bill amends Fla. Stat. 951.176 to allow a county to contract with a Florida College System institution to provide education for inmates at county detention facilities.  The bill amends 1011.80 to allow state funds to be used to operate postsecondary workforce programs for state or federal inmates with 24 months or less of time remaining on their sentences.

Senate Bill 722 by Senator Perry is set for hearing on February 15, 2022, which is its last committee stop.  

SB 520 / HB 703: Public Records and Public Meetings (Brandes)

Providing an exemption from public records requirements for any personal identifying information of an applicant for president of a state university or a Florida College System institution held by a state university or a Florida College System institution; providing 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 a Florida College System institution, including any portion of a meeting which would disclose certain personal identifying information of such applicants; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemptions; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.

Senate Bill 520 has passed the Senate, and is in messages to the House. The difference between the two bills in the amount of time the records remain confidential and exempt, with the house version being 14 days and the Senate version is still at 21 days following the decision to narrow the pool to the final candidates. 

HB 7: Individual Freedom (Education & Employment Committee and Avila)

This bill expands the Florida Civil Rights Act to provide that subjecting a person, as a condition of employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing, or passing an examination, to training, instruction, or any other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such individual to believe certain concepts constitutes discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin under the Act. The bill also revises provisions within Florida’s Education Code to: (1) provide that it constitutes discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex under the Code to subject a student or employee to training or instruction that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such student or employee to believe certain concepts; (2) state the Legislature’s acknowledgment of the fundamental truth that all persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights; and (3) require school instruction and supporting materials to be consistent with specified principles of individual freedom. 

HB 45 / SB 554: Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans

Representatives Morales and Benjamin presented HB 45 (“Educational Opportunities for Disabled Veterans”). The bill would allow a disabled veteran who enrolls in a public postsecondary program which is otherwise approved for assistance under the GI Bill and in fact receives a partial tuition benefit under the GI Bill to receive a waiver of remaining tuition and fees after the GI benefit is applied. The veteran must attend an eligible public postsecondary institution. The program begins in the 2022-2023 academic year. The bill passed the Committee, and has one more committee stop. 

HB 991: Workforce Education Postsecondary Student Fees

Representative Shoaf presented CS/HB 991 (“Postsecondary Fees”). As to the FCS, the bill authorizes a FCS institution to implement a differential out-of-state fee for the purpose of recruiting students into programs of study necessary to address unmet current and future workforce needs in the region that meet certain criteria. The bill requires an institution implementing the differential, to prioritize the enrollment of Florida residents over out-of-state students, and to annually report to the State Board of Education on the employment outcomes of students who received the differential, including the percentage of students employed in the occupation. The bill passed the Committee, and has one more committee stop. 


Florida Senate passes long-sought higher ed public records exemption

BY: ANDREW ATTERBURY 02/10/2022 03:40 PM EST 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Senate passed a public records exemption shielding candidates for top college and university jobs from the public eye on Thursday after years of Republicans attempting get similar legislation approved.

Senators approved the measure on a 28-11 vote with four Democrats in support of the exemption. The bill required supermajority approval since it calls for changes to the state’s sunshine laws.

“This is actually going to create a better process for the state,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), the bill sponsor. “We’re going to have the broadest pool of people applying for the state system.”

Breaking it down: The Senate exemption bill, FL SB520 (22R), would make all personal identifying information classified for candidates seeking college or university president posts. Names, however, must be unmasked either 21 days before a final selection is made or when a finalist group emerges.

The debate surrounding the possible shielding of candidates has remained constant through the years as Democrats and higher education faculty continuously fought against the proposal, contending the sunshine law carve out could help political insiders land coveted presidential gigs. With five top university jobs set to change hands in 2022, the legislation is as timely as ever.

Some Democrats continued to pound on the legislation Thursday, referencing a recent University of Florida scandal where school leaders attempted to thwart professors from testifying in a lawsuit against a voter rights bill backed by the DeSantis administration.

“We’re not imagining the potential for abuse, it’s not just potential for abuse — there’s been abuse,” said Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale).

Republicans who have pushed for the exemption argue that Florida’s public records laws are preventing top candidates like sitting presidents from applying in the state for fear of their names being exposed and jeopardizing their current jobs.

Senators supported an amendment proposed by a Democrat on Thursday, which appeared to help score enough votes by clarifying that the age, race and gender of all applicants are no long confidential once a presidential finalist is revealed.

“If we want to get top candidates, we’ve got to do it the right way to make sure that we give that opportunity,” said Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens), who supported the bill Thursday.

What’s next: Although the Senate vote was widely seen as the major hurdle for the presidential search exemption, there is still a key hang up between this measure and what House lawmakers are seeking.

The Senate bill requires the unveiling of candidates at least 21 days before final action is taken while the House proposes 14 days. The House legislation needs to clear one additional committee hearing before reaching the chamber floor, where it has passed in previous years.

Senators indicated Thursday they are not budging on the time limit.

“We will stand firm at 21 days,” Brandes said.

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

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