The Florida Legislature opened its regular session on March 3. Here are the bills we are following. Do you want ACTION ALERTS for legislative items? Send us an email with your off-campus email address!
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.
Both bills have passed their first two committees of reference. I am inserting Sharon Nesvig’s entertaining report about these bills from the recent FEA Frontline (The Higher Ed Horror Story Begins).
The Higher Ed Horror Story Begins
If the thought of co-eds pack’n heat on campus doesn’t scare you more than the zombie apocalypse, then you are probably Florida NRA’s Marion Hammer. She and her association want college students and anyone else who feels like it to be able to carry guns on university and college campuses. HB 4005 by Steube passed the House Criminal Justice Committee by a vote of 8 to 4 with all Democrats voting no.
Currently, Florida law prohibits everyone with a concealed weapons or concealed firearms license from carrying a concealed weapon or firearm into any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile. Right now, 7 states allow concealed carry on college campuses: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.
ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS
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.
SB 182 recently passed the Senate Higher Education Committee by a 7-2 vote and will be heard next in the Senate Governmental and Oversight Committee. The bill does the following:
- Creates an exemption from Florida’s public records and open meetings laws for any personal identifying information of an applicant for state university or Florida College System (FCS) institution president, provost, or dean;
- Exempts the applicant’s name from public disclosure in records or during meetings held for the purpose of vetting applicants. The bill requires release of the list no later than 10 days before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken;
- Requires that any interview be open to the public.
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.
SB 938 by Senator Anitere Flores
This bill is Governor Scott’s newest proposal regarding textbook affordability and it reads a lot like last year’s textbook affordability bill. The bill proposes once again a requirement that colleges and universities must use the same textbook in undergraduate courses for a minimum of three years and a requirement that colleges and universities provide the cost of textbooks before registration. Requiring professors to use the same text book for a minimum of three years and to choose textbooks nearly eight months before classes begin means that Florida students will receive outdated information and materials rather than cutting-edge information, research, and evidence, especially in fields that are rapidly changing (e.g., technology).