Legislative Updates, April 12-16, 2021
Posted on 04/19/2021

General Information

This report contains pertinent information presented and discussed during the seventh week of the 2021 legislative session. Below you will find a summary of the week’s events.


2021 Legislation

The following bills were considered this week:


HB 1505 (Melo)  Workforce Programs and Services – Read second and third time on House floor. Now in messages.  This bill seeks to create a “consumer-first,” “performance-based” workforce system with the DEO collaborating with both DCF and DOE in this effort.  With respect to K-12 students, the bill requires that the middle school career and education planning course include state career planning resources and that the character development program for grades 9-12 include instruction on developing a digital resume, researching career pathways, and learning how to use state career planning resources.  

HB 1507 (Yarborough) – Workforce Related Programs and Services – reported favorably after multiple amendments adopted as the bill’s third committee substitute by the House Education and Employment Committee.  This bill, which is entitled the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act, is much more extensive than HB 1505 and would seek to redefine workforce education in the State of Florida, starting with the creation of an Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help in the Governor’s Office. The bill would:

·       Create a Money-Back Guarantee Program, whereby school districts would have to refund the cost of tuition to students who cannot find a job within six months of completing certain programs.

    ·       Workforce performance funding would require that one-third of the funding be based on student job placement and two-thirds be based on the student’s earnings with additional weight for underserved populations.

    HB 419 (Grall) /SB 1282 (Harrell)Early Learning and Early Grade Success – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee. These bills would change the way early learning is governed in the State of Florida, but following a strike-all amendment approved in the Senate this week, they would accomplish this in different ways.  Both versions seek to consolidate responsibility under one entity.  In the House, the bill would repeal the Office of Early Learning (OEL) and replace it with a Division of Early Learning within the DOE.  This would then provide the State Board of Education (SBE) with rulemaking and oversight authority over both the voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) and school readiness programs.  The House version also moves the Gold Seal Quality Care Program from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to the DOE, and it brings Early Learning Coalitions (ELCs) under the SBE’s oversight.  Both bills also seek to create a VPK accountability system that looks at student outcomes, learning gains, and student-teacher interactions.  In the House version the Commissioner of Education would develop a screening and progress monitoring system for VPK through third grade to assess VPK performance.  In the new Senate version, the OEL would remain in place, but OEL would assume most of the responsibilities assigned to the DOE in the House version (e.g., transfer of Gold Seal Quality Care Program from DCF to OEL).  The Senate version has one additional committee assignment left and the House version has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. 

    HB 429 (Learned and Maney)– Purple Star Campuses -- reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  The bill is designed to recognize schools that support children of military members and veterans.  Schools would need to designate a staff member as their military liaison, put information on the school website specific for military families, create a transition program for military students, and offer professional development opportunities to staff members addressing issues related to military students. The bill has now been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. The Senate version SB 938 (Wright) has stalled in its last committee of reference.

    HB 1061 (Smith)– Schools of Hope – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  The bill would allow Hope schools that serve as the LEA to report students directly to the DOE, and it would allow Hope operators to conduct background checks of its employees instead of having to go through the district for it.  Finally, it addresses last year’s lack of school grades by establishing that a Hope school can move in when a district school has had three grades below a C in three of the last five years for which the school received a grade. The bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. 

    HB 1159(Busatta Cabrera)/SB 934(Wright)Educator Preparation and Certification – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  These bills would modify the core curricula for teacher preparation programs and Education Preparation Institutes (EPI) competency-based program requirements, remove the General Knowledge Test as a prerequisite for admission into a teacher preparation program, address the shortage of qualified CTE teachers, provide that a master’s degree or higher may demonstrate mastery of general knowledge, and modify and expand the reach and scope of the William Cecil Golden Professional Development Program for School Leaders.  With the latest amendments approved in the Senate, the bill would also allow advisory committees to meet virtually instead of in a physical place, and it would allow high performing districts to provide two days of virtual instruction as part of the 180 required days. The bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. The Senate version still has one more committee.

    HB 7011 (CB)/SB 1898(Rodriguez)-Student Literacy – heard during the House Education and Employment Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, respectively and reported favorably.  These bills seek to:

    • Create new systems of support for students with substantial deficiencies in reading, allowing them to be identified as early as possible, and providing them with teachers and parents able to provide effective instruction and interventions. 

    • Require that a progress monitoring system covering VPK through 8th grade be created beginning in August of 2022.  This system must generate sufficient data to both identify struggling readers and measure the success of interventions attempted on the same readers. 

    • Creates the Reading Achievement Initiative for Scholastic Excellence (RAISE) Program, which will establish 20 regional literacy expert support teams throughout the state.  Supports from the RAISE program will include evidence-based professional development and help with data-informed instruction. 

    • Enhance educator training, including the requirement that the reading endorsement credential be updated. 

    • Create a new route to the reading endorsement. 

    • Require the Just Read, Florida! Office to identify instructional materials that implement evidence-based practices. 

    • Require Districts to support parents by keeping them up-to-date on their student’s progress with interventions and making them fully aware of all systems of support available in Florida for students with disabilities (e.g., ESE options, school choice options). 

    • Better align the transition from prekindergarten to kindergarten.

    Both bills have been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. 

    HB 7033/SB 1816(Rouson)Task Force on Closing the Achievement Gap for Boys – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  This bill would create a task force to examine the problem of the large achievement gap for boys (test scores, discipline rates, disability rates, etc.) and make recommendations to close that gap.  The Senate bill has one more committee stop, and the House bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading.

    HB 51 (McClain) – Charter Schools – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  

    • This bill would allow state universities or colleges to solicit, accept, and approve charter school applications and then serve as the charter sponsor.  

    • Unlike school districts which must accept and review all charter school applications, colleges and universities would have complete discretion over whether to even consider an application.  

    • Any schools approved under this bill would not be part of the local school district.  The college or university would be considered the local education agency instead.   

     The bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading.  Its Senate companion, SB 1028 (Hutson), one more committee hearing.

    HJR 1461 (Garrison) – Limitation on Terms of Office for Members of the District School Board (f/k/a Prohibition on Compensation for Members of a District School Board) - reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  This joint resolution originally would have asked Florida voters to approve an amendment to the Florida Constitution whereby school board members would serve without compensation, like members of college and university boards of trustees. It now was amended this week to remove the compensation provisions and instead added 8 consecutive year term limits. It has been placed on Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. 

    SB 98 (Albritton) – Workforce Related Programs and Services – reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Among other things, the bill would:

    • Require DOE to address the accountability of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 

    • Look to match the CAPE Industry Certification Funding List with the courses offered throughout Florida under the Career and Professional Education Act, as well as align the list to the future employment projections that will be made by a new Labor Market Estimating Conference; and 

    • Review the funding weights assigned to the courses and certifications listed in the CAPE Industry Certification Funding List. 

    SB 366 (Hutson) Education Opportunities Leading to Employment – reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The bill seeks to improve and expand upon apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in the state’s career and technical education (CTE) system.  Among other things, the bill:

    • Establishes that students in a pre-apprenticeship program or a course that includes a work-based component are consider state employees for worker’s compensation purposes (medical benefits only).

    • Makes alterations to the Career and Professional Education (CAPE) program, including authorizing the SBE to adopt rules for CAPE and providing bonus funds for industry certifications that lead to occupations in critical industries.

    • Amends dual enrollment eligibility criteria to include the same 3.0 unweighted GPA, as well as “a demonstrated level of achievement of college-level communication and computation skills.”  In addition to meeting the requirements on a common placement test, students will be able to demonstrate the necessary level of achievement through alternative methods adopted by the SBE by January 31, 2022.

    The bill has been placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading.

    HB 3 (Trabulsy) /SB 1372(Burgess)- Home Book Delivery for Elementary Students – reported favorably by the House Education and Employment Committee.  The bill establishes the New Worlds Reading Initiative, which is designed to get free books sent to the homes of K-5 students reading below grade level.  Districts will need to partner with local entities to help identify eligible students and spread the word about the program.  The program includes students enrolled in charter schools.  There is no cost estimate available yet, but there would have been approximately 557,000 children eligible for the program based on 2018-19 data.  With each child receiving one book per month for nine months out of the year, that would be over five million books distributed each year.  The Senate companion was temporarily postponed during the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    SB 1864 (Perry)/ HB 131 (Duggan)Education – reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  This bill addresses school employees being accused of sexual misconduct with students and then resigning before an investigation can be completed only to wind up working a different district.  The provisions would address district employees who resign prior to the completion of an investigation or in lieu of termination for anything that affects the health, safety, or welfare of students, not just sexual misconduct.  The House version was heard on the floor and is now in messages to the Senate.

    HB 383 (Plasencia) / SB 590 (Harrell) – Involuntary Examination of Minors – temporarily postponed on second reading by the House.  This bill addresses the involuntary examination of minors (Baker Act).  The bill would require a school to notify a parent before a child is removed from school unless the principal believes that delaying the removal would harm the student. The senate version is on the Senate Appropriations Committee agenda for April 19, 2021.

    HB 519 (Yarborough) / SB 1094 (Bean) – Required Health Education Instruction – read second and third time and passed. Now in messages to the Senate.  The bill would require that required sexual education curriculum include age- and developmentally appropriate information on the prevention of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.  The Senate version will be heard by its last committee of reference, Senate Appropriations Committee on April 19, 2021.

    HB 149 (Dubose and Plasencia)/SB 192 (Book)Students with Disabilities in Public Schools – read second and third time and passed. Now in messages to the Senate.  The bill would prohibit the use of seclusion in a school and impose greater restrictions on the use of restraints.  The Senate version will be heard on April 19, 2021 during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting.

    HB 1475 (Tuck)/SB 2012 (Stargel)Sex-specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports / Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity – read second and third time and passed. Now in messages to the Senate. These bills would prohibit transgender females from participating in girls’ sports.  The debates on these two bills have grown more contentious with each hearing, but they continue to move forward along party lines.  The Senate version is scheduled for its last committee stop, the Senate Rules Committee on April 20, 2021.

    SB 280 (Baxley)/HB 157 (Hawkins and Busatta Cabrera)- K-12 Physical Health Requirements / Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training in Public Schools– reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.  This bill would require basic first aid instruction and CPR training to be incorporated into 9th and 11th grade instruction.  Both versions have one more committee hearing.

    HB 529 (Fine) / SB 282 (Baxley) – Moments of Silence in Public Schools – Placed on Special Order Calendar on April 21, 2021  The bill requires a one to two-minute moment of silence at the start of each school day for public school students.  This was the bill’s third and final committee stop in the House and will now move to the House floor.  The Senate version is in the Senate Rules Committee.

    SB 78 (Rodrigues) / HB 947 (Plakon) – Dues and Uniform Assessments -Temporarily postponed in Senate Rules Committee two weeks ago and was not placed back on the agenda this week. The bills, which are identical, require union members to sign up for dues deductions after every new contract negotiation.  They also require the employer to verify this request with the employee. The house version has been laid on the table and combined with HB 835. 

    SB 7070 (Gruters) Impact of COVID-19 on Education Institutions – not considered by the Senate Rules Committee but placed back on the agenda for April 20, 2021.  This bill originally included several provisions to address COVID-19, its effect on schools, and accountability provisions for the 2020-21 school year.  With respect to accountability, the bill contemplates school grades being calculated but used only for positive reasons, including exiting turnaround status and eligibility for the Florida School Recognition Program. In light of the Executive Order issued last week by the Commissioner, several amendments have been filed on the bill to remove the provisions already addressed in the Executive Order. 

    HB 259 (Williamson and Byrd) / SB 498 (Gruters) – Safety of Religious Institutions – Read a second and third time on the House floor and passed. Now on agenda for the Senate Rules Committee on April 20, 2021  These bills remove restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon at church on the weekend if that church has its own school on site due to the prohibition on firearms at all school properties.  It further states that it is up to the religious institution to decide whether its members can carry firearms, even if the institution is leasing someone else’s property, including a public school.  The bill would take effect immediately upon becoming law. 

    HB 1033
     (Borrero) /SB 1394(Rodriguez) Certificate of Completion – read a second and third time and passed the House floor. Now in messages to Senate.  These bills provide that students awarded a certificate of completion are eligible to enroll in a career center program.

    SB 358 (Berman)/ HB 1119 (Daley) Water Safety and Swimming Certification for K-12 Students – reported favorably by Senate Rules Committee, and now placed on the Special Order Calendar. These bills require school districts to provide parents of new, enrolling students with information about low cost swimming certification options in the area.

    HB 337 (DeCeglie) /SB 750 (Gruters)Impact Fees - reported favorably by the House State Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The bill puts some restrictions on impact fees, particularly with respect to raising those fees any given year.  If a fee is to increase less than 25%, it must be phased in over two years.  If the fee will increase between 25 and 50%, it must be phased in over four years.  No fee could increase more than 50% without engaging in a new study applying the rational nexus test.  Finally, the CFO will need to sign an affidavit to include with the district’s annual financial audit report that all impact fee requirements were followed in the collection and expenditure of impact fees.  Several amendments have been filed as these bills have moved forward to lessen the potential impact on school districts, including one this week in the Senate that would allow impact fees to be used to purchase school buses and necessary equipment for those buses.  Both bills have one more are on the Special Order Calendar.

    SB 1450 (Rodriguez)/ HB 5 (Zika) /  Civic Education Curriculum – The House passed this bill and it was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The Senate version still was reported favorably by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  This bill would require that the U.S. Government class required for high school graduation include comparative discussions of political ideologies that conflict with the freedom and democracy established in the United States.  It also requires the DOE to develop oral history resources that can be used in the curriculum.  This oral history program would be called the “Portraits in Patriotism Act.”  

    HB 1027
    Opening Remarks at High School Athletic Contests: The House passed this bill and it is now in messages to the Senate. The bill:

    • Requires athletic associations, whose memberships include public schools, to adopt bylaws, policies, or procedures that provide schools participating in a high school championship contest or series, an opportunity to make brief opening remarks at the event. If requested by the school, a speaker from the school may give opening remarks, no longer than 2 minutes, using the public address system at the event. Prior to the opening remarks from school speakers, the association must make an announcement that the schools’ opening remarks are not endorsed by the association, nor do they reflect the views and opinions of the association.

    • Establishes that athletic associations may not control, monitor, or review the content of schools’ opening remarks, nor may the associations control the schools’ choice of speaker.

    • Provides that the decision to allow opening remarks before regular season contests is at the discretion of each school.

    HB 1553 (Borrero)- Victims of Communism Day- The House passed this bill and it is now in messages to the Senate. The bill requires the governor to proclaim November 7 of each year as "Victims of Communism Day"; requires day to be observed in public schools; requires certain high school students to receive specified instruction.

    HB 1227 (Morales)- Guidance Services on Academic and Career Planning- reported favorably by the House Education & Employment Committee and placed on the Special Order Calendar for 2nd reading. The bill requires students & parents be informed of acceleration, academic, & career planning options; requires plan be developed in consultation with a certified school counselor; requires personalized student plan to inform students of certain opportunities.