UFF Legislative Update, Feb. 5, 2018

Speaker Corcoran Attacks Teachers’ Unions Directly Once Again

First, Speaker Corcoran’s House of Representatives passed HB 25 on January 25 which would decertify public employee if their membership falls below 50% at the time for recertification. The bill passed by a vote of 65-41 mostly on a party-line vote with a single Republican no vote. That despite the fact we are a union of members who choose to participate – no one can be forced to join our union. Florida is a right-to-work state where union membership or payment of union dues cannot be compelled.

As if this first legislation was not enough evidence of his attack on FEA, HB 7055 is even more direct. Speaker Corcoran has “logrolled” dozens of unrelated bills into this 198-page monster of a bill, amending 58 separate statutes. What’s worse – more than half of these issues have never been vetted by a single education committee. But it gets worse. Now they have gone one step further: House Speaker Richard Corcoran has tied public schools’ education funding to the passage of HB 7055. And, HB 7055 would decertify only instructional personnel unions, in other words, FEA locals.

Call 855.235.2469 and enter your zip code to find your representative and urge a NO vote on HB7055.

HB 423 Scheduled for House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

This bill is the companion to SB 4 which has passed the Senate. SB 4 is the University package which for the most part is acceptable. UFF has concerns with each university Board of Trustees adopting a block tuition plan but do not anticipate a monetary loss to the university.  However, a House committee amended the bill with this language:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″] (j) The Board of Governors shall annually report, by September 1 of each year, on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution through an objective, non-partisan, and statistically valid survey that enables comparison among institutions over time. Each institution shall conduct an annual survey of students, faculty, and administrators that assesses the extent to which competing ideas, perspectives, and claims of truth are presented and members of the university community feel safe and supported in exploring and articulating their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.[/quote]

With the recent visit to the University of Florida of an avowed white nationalist speaker, this bill’s timing is very suspect. The security for that event in Gainesville cost $3 million. I think each university understands their political neutrality and this amendment needs to be removed from HB 423. Let the members of the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee know what you think.

SB 1234 Free Expression on Campus by Senator Baxley

SB 1234 establishes the “Campus Free Expression Act,” (the Act) to authorize individuals to engage in expressive activity on public institutions of higher education campuses, within reasonable limits enforced by such institutions. Specifically, the bill:

  1. Authorizes a person who wishes to engage in an expressive activity in the outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education to do so freely, spontaneously, and contemporaneously as long as the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the public institution.
  2. Designates the outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education that accepts federal funding as a traditional public forum and specifies that such public institution may create and enforce restrictions that are:
    • Reasonable and content-neutral on time, place, and manner of expression.
    • Narrowly tailored to a significant institutional interest.
  3. Prohibits a public institution of higher education from designating a specific area as a free speech zone or otherwise restricting expressive activities to a particular area of campus.
  4. Establishes a cause of action for a violation of the Act and specifies available damages and a statute of limitations associated with such action.

The bill is to be heard in the Senate Education Committee.

Guns on campus

Two gun bills are moving through the process. As you may recall, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 1048 by Senator Baxley (R-Lady Lake) after amending the bill to specify that a church or religious institution may allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon or firearm on a public K-12 campus that they own, rent, lease or otherwise use, only during non-school hours or during non-school sponsored extra-curricular activities. SB 1048 was heard Thursday morning in the Rules Committee and passed by party-line 7-5 vote.

Companion legislation in the House was heard in the House Judiciary Committee also on Thursday. HB 1419 by Rep. McClure (R-Plant City) has not been amended, and would allow a church or place of worship that owns, rents, leases or otherwise uses a space on a K-12 school or a college or university campus to designate an individual to carry a concealed weapon or firearm at any time regardless of whether students are on campus. The bill passed by a party-line 13-6 vote. Thank you, Rep. Geller, (D-Dania Beach) for being a fierce advocate against guns on campus and speaking out against this bill.

The Constitutional Revision Commission

The Constitutional Revision Commission will begin holding public hearings across Florida soon. Click here to find information on the hearing schedule. We encourage you to attend the hearings and speak up against some of the terrible provisions being considered for the November 2018 ballot. For more information on how you can get involved contact Tina.Dunbar@floridaea.org.