Winners and losers emerging from the 2021 Legislative Session

By Peter Schorsch
May 3, 2021

Mark Anderson — Normally, lobbyists don’t get singled out in Winners & Losers. Before you write us to ask why so-and-so didn’t get a nod, ask yourself this: Did they go “Full Anderson?” And by that, we mean did they perfectly time millisecond of public testimony to advocate for a client during budget talks? That kind of move takes guts. And it produces results. The solo lobbyist snagged $13 million in client appropriations, helped long-sought legislation modernizing HOA rules, and regulating home-based businesses. Quite the Session.

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Bill updating homeowner association rules clears House

By Kelly Hayes
April 27, 2021

The legislation provides solutions for future health crises.

A bill that revises state regulations and governance rules for homeowner and community associations cleared the House in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The House heard the Senate version of the legislation (SB 630), filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, which also passed the Senate unanimously. The bill, presented by House sponsor Rep. Jason Shoaf, seeks to address statewide standards around community associations.  

In a sign of the times, the legislation updates the emergency powers of community association boards during a state health emergency. Specifically, the bill allows board members to attend meetings remotely and implement emergency plans.

The legislation also seeks to improve transparency among associations by allowing them to post documents not only to their websites but also on mobile apps. Similar to other public meetings, the bill mandates timely notices be posted for all community association member meetings, not just the annual one. 

Voting records would also be added to the list of official documents that must be maintained by the association. Associations would also be required to provide a due date for homeowners to pay fines. 

The legislation may also reduce costs for Florida homeowners by allowing associations to better recoup actual costs related to background checks in connection with sale, lease or mortgage of a unit, preventing those costs from being passed onto current unit owners.

The bill was praised by the Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies (CEOMC), which represents more than 18,000 licensed, professional community association managers who manage more than 14,000 community associations.

“We are very thankful to Reps. Jason Shoaf and Anthony Rodriguez and their Senate counterparts, Sens. Dennis Baxley and Travis Hutson, for successfully carrying this important bill across the finish line today,” CEOMC executive director and lobbyist Mark Anderson said in a statement. “Once signed by Governor (RonDeSantis, this critical and time-sensitive legislation will ensure Florida’s community associations are pandemic-safe, more transparent, streamlined, modern and affordable.”

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Sprinkle list: Palmetto school lands nearly $1M for Steve Wozniak-tied STEM program

By Jacob Ogles
April 27, 2021

The career-focused curriculum helped the school go from a D grade to an A.

Manatee County students could be on the path to becoming the next Steve Wozniak.

A state budget agreed upon by the House and Senate includes $950,000 for a pilot program focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Rep. Will Robinson, a Bradenton Republican, said that will fund a first-in-Florida program at Palm View K-8 School.

The program will be put on the Woz Pathways curriculum promoted by Woz Edan education founded by Wozniak, the Apple co-founder and Silicon Valley celebrity.

In his funding appropriations request (HB 3685)Robinson said the program will prepare K-12 students “for 21st century careers and teachers with 21st century training and technology through the creation of ‘career pathways’ for all K-12 students using innovative public-private partnerships. These partnerships are an effective and cost-efficient method by which school districts and the state can meet the growing, unmet need for these critical educational opportunities on a scale that can demonstrate ROI to the taxpayers.”

Woz Ed officials said the Palm View program specifically will educate youth on career paths in cybersecurity, drone piloting, maintenance and repair, engineering design, coding, and mobile development.

The Palmetto school is one of a handful of campuses in the country involved with Woz Ed. Wozniak himself announced the partnership in 2019.

“The world needs inventors, great ones,” he said in an announcement video. “If your learners love what they do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within their reach, and it will be worth every minute they spend alone at night thinking and thinking about what it is they want to design or build. It will be worth it, I promise.”

Since the school adopted a focus on STEM, Robinson said the school has made huge leaps in the quality of education provided. He noted that from 2018 to 2019, the school’s grade with the Department of Education rose from a D to an A. The school notably was failing as recently as 2015.

The $950,000 is one-time funding this year.

View the original article at Florida Politics

New Law Would Require Financial Literacy Class in High School

By Susan Jacobson
Feb 23, 2015

Science, math and English are important, but students in Florida also need to learn how to manage money before they graduate from high school.

So say advocates of a bill before the Legislature that would mandate a stand-alone, financial-literacy course for public-school students.

The proposal is the third step in a plan that began in 2013, when a new law required that economics classes include financial literacy. Now, state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, sponsor of SB 92, wants to go a step further.

“You’re giving them the skills, preparing them for the real world so they can take charge of their financial future and be better prepared for the decisions we all have to make,” Hukill said. “People always complain that there’s a disconnection between education and the real world. Well, here’s a connection.”

A similar bill (HB 29) has been filed in the House by Rep. Heather Fitzhagen, R-Fort Myers, and Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens. Both have bipartisan support and the endorsement of various business and education groups.

Many students at Coral Glades High School’s finance academy are already taking a course similar to the ones being proposed, in addition to the personal finance portion of economics.

But right now the class is optional. Steven Carruth, principal of the Coral Springs school, said it would be problematic to make it mandatory for all students.

“Then they would lose an option to take an AP course, a dual enrollment course or a vocational course,” he said. “I don’t disagree with the teaching of it. It’s vital, but teachers do embed it in the economics classes.”

Seventeen states, including Florida, require personal-financial instruction in high school, but only five — Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia — require a stand-alone course, according the Council for Economic Education in New York.

The Florida Department of Education estimates that a dedicated course would cost between $116,581 and $8,143,344 the first year, depending on whether online materials or books are used. This is the second year that Hukill has tried to get her bill passed.

Kathi Gundlach, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers association, said financial literacy classes should not be required.

“More and more classes are being mandated, and they’re usually unfunded,” she said. “We don’t have any money for books or to do it. Financial literacy is already included in the course work.”

The consequences of financial illiteracy came into stark focus during the Great Recession as many people found themselves underwater on their mortgages or lost their homes to foreclosure. Some ruined their credit or were forced into bankruptcy, hurting their chances in the job market, where some companies use credit history to assess potential employees.
Student debt is another albatross. In Florida, 53 percent of students at public and nonprofit private colleges and universities graduated in 2013 with an average debt of more than $24,000, a study by the Institute for College Access & Success found.

Some critics of a mandatory class say parents, not schools, should teach children money management. But a study by the Council for Economic Education found a third of parents are more comfortable talking to their children about smoking, drugs and bullying than money.

A 2011 survey conducted by investment firm Charles Schwab seems to support the need for more education. Although 77 percent of participating teens said they knew how to manage money, only 38 percent said they understood how to establish good credit, 35 percent could balance a checkbook, 31 percent knew what a credit score was, 22 percent understood income taxes and 17 percent knew what a 401(k) plan was.

“If we don’t educate students on the forward end, we’re going to pay for it on the back end the way we did with the mortgage and home-loan crisis,” said Mark Anderson, a lobbyist for the Florida Council on Economic Education.