BUDGET TALKS SLOWED
The potential loss of $1 billion dollars in federal dollars for medical services for low income Floridians and the reluctance of the Florida House of Representatives to accept federal Medicaid funding has resulted in a slowdown of budget discussions. What appeared to be rosy optimism for the 2015-16 budget due to a healthy growth in Florida’s economy is now stalled due to infighting among the Governor, the Senate and the House. Stay tuned.
SECRET JOB SEARCHES
HB 223 by Rep. Neil Combee/SB 182 by Senator Alan Hays
UFF opposes these bills that would provide exemptions to Florida’s Sunshine Law as it pertains to president, provost and dean searches.
HB 223 passed the House Higher Education Subcommittee by a 9-1 vote on March 10th. Representative Rehwinkel Vasalinda was the lone No vote. Three Democrats were absent for the vote. HB 223 will be heard next in the House Government Operations Subcommittee. The bill was amended to allow release of the finalist list no later than 30 days, instead of 10 days, before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken. The bill still exempts, from Florida’s public records and open meeting laws, the release of records or personal identifying information of an applicant for state university or Florida College System (FCS) institution president, provost, or dean.
Jennifer Proffitt , FSU-UFF Chapter President and UFF Government Relation Co-Chair, spoke against the bill along with other concerned faculty members and students.
Barbara Petersen, President of the First Amendment Foundation, was quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat editorial opposing these bills as saying, “If the rationale that we don’t get good candidates because of sunshine (laws) applies to university and college presidents, it applies to every public position in the state of Florida – county administrators, city managers, school superintendents.”
Obviously, we need to continue raising our voices on this issue in the coming weeks. More calls and more faculty in attendance at future committee meetings are needed in opposition to these bills.
GUNS ON CAMPUS
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. UFF concurs with the vast majority of faculty, students and law enforcement that prohibiting firearms on college and university campuses, except by trained law enforcement and security officers, is an essential element of an overall campus safety plan.
Note: 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!
SB 176 is being heard later today in the Senate Higher Education Committee. Make those calls if you have not already done so.
FEE WAIVERS FOR GRADUATE ASSISTANTS
HB 925 by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasalinda/SB 1420 by Senator Maria Sachs
Graduate assistants provide meaningful teaching and research functions at most of our state universities. UFF supports these bills which provide graduate assistants with fee waivers for financial aid fees, technology fees, fees for security, access or identification cards and fees relating to the use of facilities. The fee waivers will assist thousands of graduate assistants with added financial support to supplement their stipends for teaching and/or research.
A rally to support these bills was held in Gainesville on March 13th and rallies are scheduled for both Tallahassee at the Capitol and at USF in Tampa on Wednesday, March 18th. Contact the GAU Chapter in your area and attend their rally!
SINGLE-SEX PUBLIC FACILITIES
CS/HB 583 by Rep. Artiles
UFF opposes this bill which requires that use of single-sex public facilities be restricted to persons of sex for which facility is designated and prohibits knowingly & willfully entering single-sex public facility designated for or restricted to persons of the other sex. The bill provides criminal penalties and provides private cause of action against violators.
The UFF Senate passed a resolution which supports the right of transgender and other non-gender-conforming students, staff and faculty to have access to public facilities without being subjected to fines or criminalization.
CS/HB 583 is being heard in the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 17 at 8:00 am.