Legislative Update, March 26


SB 182 by Senator Alan Hays bill that would provide exemptions to Florida’s Sunshine Law as it pertains to president and provost searches was temporarily postponed a second time on March 26th. UFF opposes this legislation and its companion measure in the House of Representatives, HB 223 by Representative Combee.

The second temporary postponement of SB 182 indicates that the bill is in real trouble and that is a good thing. Passage of SB 182 and any bill that provides an exemption to Florida’s Sunshine laws requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature. Senator Hays requested the postponement prior to any speakers being heard. UFF and members of the AFL-CIO all had requested to speak against the bill.

This is very good news for now and we will keep you informed if action is needed in the coming weeks. HB 223 will be heard next in the House Education Committee but the bill has not been placed on the agenda at this time.


GUNS ON CAMPUS – A Lull in the Battle

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.

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!

Guns on campus legislation was not heard in either the House or Senate this week. However, attacks from NRA advocates did not stop. There were calls for public records regarding police chiefs appearing against the bill last week and also records from faculty members who spoke against the bills in committee. They may be relentless but so are we!

Both bills now reside in the respective Judiciary committees of the House and Senate. Both committees have scheduled meetings next week. We will send an Action Alert should the bills reach the agenda.

Thanks to the UFF-UCF Chapter action on the guns legislation! We will see if we can find sponsors for their proposed amendments.



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

SB 938 passed out of the Higher Education Committee but had a substantial change that met one of our objections. The bill as drafted required the use of textbooks and instructional materials for a minimum of three years unless an exception was granted by the institution’s president or designee. This provision was removed.

The other concern is that the bill moves notification for students regarding costs for their textbooks and instructional materials from 30 days before classes to 14 days before registration. Faculty assignments are often not made in time where the instructor is in place to meet this requirement. This could also lead to students not having updated textbooks as the notice is far in advance of classes. We have been assured by Senator Flores that this will be addressed at its next stop.

The House bill passed out of the Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee as a proposed committee bill and since then has been numbered as HB 7125. The House bill does not change the current timeframe for notification of textbook lists and costs nor does it include any three-year provision. HB 7125 does include that the length of time textbooks and instructional materials remain in use shall be one area of consideration for policies and guidelines that are developed by the State Board of Education for the Florida College System and the Board of Governors for universities.

Next stops for these bills are House Education for HB 7125 and Senate Education Appropriations for SB 938.


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, as drafted was amended by Senator Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and then passed unanimously from the Higher Education Committee. 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.

House and Senate Budgets

It seems very appropriate that both House and Senate budgets are slated for Second Reading on the floor next Wednesday, April Fool’s Day! More about the budget bills next week.