Legislative Update #2
March 13, 2019
An Abbreviated Report
Due to the NEA Higher Education Conference later this week and a light committee agenda, this will be a brief report on today’s action on CS/HB 839 and more specifically the “objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey that enables comparisons among universities on the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at each institution.”
The UFF Senate Position
As you may recall, the UFF Senate voted unanimously for the following resolution at its meeting in February.
Adopted Unanimously: February 17, 2019
Move that: Be it resolved that we, the members of the UFF, strongly oppose any attempt by the State of Florida to require the implementation of any survey intended to measure or evaluate the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at institutions of higher learning. UFF has always supported the open and honest exchange of ideas, perspectives and claims of truth both inside and outside of the classroom. This process cannot be measured or characterized by a survey which by its nature would be purely subjective. Such an attempt would be open to political manipulation and could have a chilling effect on intellectual and academic freedom.
House Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee Action
CS/HB 839 has the primary focus on improving the university performance funding model and, while not perfect, on that concern it goes a long way to the issue UFF has supported over the last few years. That is a model fairer to all universities and not just preeminent ones that provides recurring funds and has no automatic punitive component. Why then insert a divisive survey in the bill to evaluate, in our opinion, divisiveness?
According to Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Ft. Myers), other states have done this. We ask which states and what were the results? The measure passed the committee by a straight party-line vote of 11-5 vote which was divisive.
Thanks to Democrats Ramon Alexander (Tallahassee), Joe Casello (Boynton Beach), Joy Goff-Marcil (Maitland), Michael Grieco (North Bay Village), and Carlos Smith (Winter Park) for their support! Also, thanks to Matthew Lata, FSU Chapter President and UFF Government Relations Chair for his testimony!