Legislative Issues

Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions Speaker Oliva created the Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions on December 30th to determine the extent of foreign investment in research funded by Florida taxes. Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) will serve as chair and Representative Tom Leek (R-Daytona Beach) will serve as vice chair. The Speaker cited the recent concerns at Moffitt Cancer Center regarding improper or illegal activities involving Florida’s research universities, medical research facilities and scientists engaged with these institutions.

As in past pre-session editions, we perused the bills currently filed for the 2020 Legislative Session and have highlighted a few of interest:

STATE SYMBOLS  Recognizing that Florida does not have an official state candy, this bill would fill the void by designating coconut patties as that candy. See the closing for an important update on this item.

RESILIENCY OFFICE  Legislators are proposing the creation of a Statewide Office of Resiliency in the Governor’s Office; the appointment of a Chief Resilience Officer; and a statewide Sea Level Rise Task Force to recommend consensus projections of anticipated sea level rise and flooding impacts along the Florida coastline. The bills request a half million-dollar appropriation.

EDUCATION Dozens of education bills have been filed. A sampling of legislation would: require each public-school building be equipped with at least one panic alarm; repeal the state’s controversial “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program; enact the “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act” setting a minimum starting pay for teachers; create term limits for school board members; revise credit requirements to earn a standard high school diploma to include career and technical education rather than practical arts; bring public schools, charter schools and private voucher schools under a single set of rules in several key areas, including academic standards and accountability; allow for an alternate statewide charter school authorizer; and revise the required health education courses in public schools to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking.

FOOD PANTRIES IN SCHOOLS School districts would permit schools to create food pantry programs in collaboration with nonprofit organizations. Dozens of schools around the state currently offer some form of food pantry.

SALES TAX HOLIDAYS Putting a few extra dollars in taxpayers’ pockets through the authorization of sales tax holidays are a favorite with legislators. There are bills currently making their way through committees that address the annual back-to-school tax holiday, a hurricane preparedness break and a small business Saturday tax break.