Legislative Update, April 6, 2015

From the UFF statewide offices:


The House and Senate approved their budgets last week but are far apart, separated by disagreements over expansion of Medicaid funding and the establishment of an alternative Low Income Pool within Medicaid. New funds within the higher education budgets are for the most part associated with performance funding.

Both budgets require initial performance funding in the Florida College System. The Senate budget appropriates $60 million of which $30 million is new funds and $30 million is base funds from each institution. The approved model shall be limited to measures addressing the following areas: Job Placement, Program Completion and Graduation Rates, Retention Rates, Completer Entry Level Wages, and Student Loan Default rates.

$20,000,000 is provided as performance funding for Florida College System institutions within the current House budget. The House budget bill requires the Commissioner of Education to allocate the funds pursuant to the performance funding model submitted to the Legislature.


SB 182 by Senator Alan Hays bill that would provide exemptions to Florida’s Sunshine Law as it pertains to president and provost searches has been temporarily postponed twice in the Rules Committee and was not heard last week in Rules. The Rules Committee meets again this Thursday, April 9th from 9 to 11 but the agenda for that meeting is not set as of this update.

UFF opposes this legislation and its companion measure in the House of Representatives, HB 223 by Representative Combee. Unfortunately, HB 223 has passed all its committee assignments and is on the Second Reading Calendar. That means it is eligible for placement on the Special Order Calendar for consideration and passage.

But keep in mind, a bill must pass both houses.


HB 4005 by Rep. Greg Steube/SB 176 by Senator Greg Evers

UFF opposes this legislation to allow carrying of concealed weapons on college and university campuses.

These bills are opposed by the Florida Board of Governors, the University Presidents, the University Police Chiefs, the League of Women Voters and at least 14 Florida newspapers!

HB 4005 passed its final hurdle as it passed in the House Judiciary Committee so it is also on the Second Reading Calendar. SB 176 is scheduled next for the Senate Judiciary Committee but is not on the committee agenda this week. NRA advocates claim to have filed ethics complaints against the police chiefs and several UFF members who have appeared or turned in appearance cards in opposition to the two bills. Their complaint stems around the rights of our members to appear before a committee on their own time. UFF will defend their rights and your rights to do so!


SB 938 by Senator Flores and HB 7125 by Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee

Neither bill has been placed on an agenda since our last report. It is possible that HB 7125 could be heard Thursday, April 9th but the Education Committee agenda has not been announced for that date.


CS/SB 1252 by Senator Stargel and the Higher Education Committee

This legislation reignites the issue of 4-year programs within the Florida College System. The bill renames 17 colleges and creates a one-year process for approving new four-year degrees at community colleges. The bill says no more than 5 percent of students can be pursuing baccalaureate degrees at any given time at the college institutions but Negron did say he was willing to raise the cap for colleges presently exceeding the 5% cap.

The bill also requires any new baccalaureate programs cost students $10,000 or less, mirroring a Gov. Rick Scott initiative. The bill also returns the word “community” to the Florida College System name and makes it clear that the state’s 28 colleges are to have a regional workforce mission.

Negron also expressed his openness to the name change concerns with one caveat, the term “state” should not appear in the name.

The bill will be heard Wednesday, April 8th in the Senate Education Appropriations Committee.