Florida Senate - 2017                              CS for SB 668
       By the Committee on Education; and Senator Bean
       581-02932-17                                           2017668c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to postsecondary distance education;
    3         creating s. 1000.35, F.S.; authorizing this state to
    4         participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity
    5         Agreement (SARA) for delivery of postsecondary
    6         distance education; providing definitions;
    7         establishing the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance
    8         Education Coordinating Council within the Department
    9         of Education; requiring the Commission for Independent
   10         Education to provide administrative support for the
   11         council; providing membership and duties of the
   12         council; requiring the council to propose an annual
   13         fee schedule and collect fees from Florida SARA
   14         institutions; requiring the proposed fee schedule to
   15         be submitted to the State Board of Education for
   16         approval; providing for deposit of such fees into a
   17         specified trust fund; authorizing the council to
   18         revoke a Florida SARA institution’s participation for
   19         noncompliance; authorizing such institution to
   20         withdraw from participation in the SARA after
   21         providing notice; exempting council decisions from the
   22         Administrative Procedure Act; providing that
   23         provisions relating to the jurisdiction of the
   24         commission are not superseded; requiring the state
   25         board to adopt rules; amending s. 1005.06, F.S.;
   26         providing that the commission does not have
   27         jurisdiction over certain non-Florida institutions
   28         participating in the SARA; amending s. 1005.31, F.S.;
   29         authorizing the solicitation of prospective students
   30         for enrollment in certain postsecondary educational
   31         institutions; providing a directive to the Division of
   32         Law Revision and Information; providing an effective
   33         date.
   35  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   37         Section 1. Section 1000.35, Florida Statutes, is created to
   38  read:
   39         1000.35State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.—
   40         (1)The purpose of this section is to authorize this
   41  state’s participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity
   42  Agreement (SARA) as established by the Southern Regional
   43  Education Board (SREB) and the National Council for State
   44  Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) relative to
   45  postsecondary distance education as defined in the SARA. All
   46  parties to the SARA must be willing to accept each other’s
   47  authorization of accredited institutions to operate in their
   48  state to offer distance educational services beyond state
   49  boundaries.
   50         (2)For purposes of this section, the term:
   51         (a)“Commission” means the Commission for Independent
   52  Education.
   53         (b)“Complaint” means a formal assertion in writing that a
   54  person, institution, state, agency, or other entity operating
   55  under the SARA has violated the terms of the SARA or the laws,
   56  standards, or regulations incorporated therein.
   57         (c)“Council” means the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance
   58  Education Coordinating Council, which serves as the single
   59  portal entity designated by the state to administer the SARA and
   60  serves as the interstate point of contact for SARA-related
   61  questions, complaints, and other matters related to the SARA.
   62         (d)“Department” means the Department of Education.
   63         (e)“Florida SARA institution” means a postsecondary
   64  institution in this state approved by the council to participate
   65  in the SARA.
   66         (f)“Institution” means a public or private postsecondary
   67  degree-granting college or university that is accredited by a
   68  federally recognized accrediting body and that awards, at a
   69  minimum, associate-level degrees requiring at least 2 years of
   70  full-time equivalent college work.
   71         (g)“Member state” means a state, territory, or district
   72  within the United States that has been approved to participate
   73  in the SARA.
   74         (h)“Non-Florida SARA institution” means an institution
   75  approved by a member state other than this state to participate
   76  in the SARA.
   77         (i)“SREB” means the Southern Regional Education Board.
   78         (j)“State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement” or “SARA”
   79  means the agreement that establishes reciprocity between member
   80  states that accept other member states’ authorization of
   81  accredited institutions to operate in their states to offer
   82  distance educational services beyond state boundaries pursuant
   83  to the terms and conditions set forth in the agreement.
   84         (k)“State board” means the State Board of Education.
   85         (3)The council is created within the department for the
   86  purpose of administering the SARA. The council shall consist of
   87  the Chancellor of the State University System, the Chancellor of
   88  the Florida College System, the Chancellor of the Division of
   89  Career and Adult Education, the executive director of the
   90  commission, and the president of the Independent Colleges and
   91  Universities of Florida. The commission shall provide
   92  administrative support for the council. The council shall:
   93         (a)Within 60 days after the effective date of this act,
   94  apply for this state to participate as a member of the SARA
   95  pursuant to the procedures established by the SREB;
   96         (b)Serve as the single portal entity for administration of
   97  the SARA;
   98         (c)Review and approve applications from institutions in
   99  this state to participate in the SARA and establish an appeals
  100  process for institutions that are not approved to participate in
  101  the SARA;
  102         (d)Ensure compliance by Florida SARA institutions with the
  103  terms and provisions of the SARA, including, but not limited to,
  104  accreditation and institutional quality, consumer information
  105  and protection, disclosure and reporting requirements, complaint
  106  mechanisms, and financial responsibility;
  107         (e)Comply with the terms and provisions of the SARA
  108  relating to any member state, Florida SARA institution, or non
  109  Florida SARA institution;
  110         (f)Comply with the reporting requirements in the SARA and
  111  post all such reports on the council’s website;
  112         (g)Consistent with the complaint resolution processes in
  113  the SARA, develop and administer a complaint resolution process
  114  to resolve SARA-related complaints after all complaint processes
  115  in place at a Florida SARA institution have been exhausted by
  116  the complainant;
  117         (h)Delegate any responsibilities, obligations, or
  118  authorities necessary for the administration of this state’s
  119  participation in the SARA to the commission’s staff; and
  120         (i)Recommend rules necessary to administer this section
  121  for adoption by the state board.
  122         (4)The council shall propose an annual fee schedule and
  123  collect fees from each Florida SARA institution. The fees shall
  124  be commensurate with the costs incurred by the council and
  125  commission to administer the SARA and shall be based on a
  126  graduated scale of institutional enrollment. The council shall
  127  propose an annual fee schedule to generate the amount of revenue
  128  necessary for its operations. The proposed fee schedule shall be
  129  submitted to the state board for approval. The department shall
  130  include the approved fee schedule in its legislative budget
  131  request which takes effect unless revised by the Legislature in
  132  the General Appropriations Act. All fees collected pursuant to
  133  this subsection shall be submitted through the department to the
  134  Chief Financial Officer for deposit into a separate account
  135  within the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund. Any fee
  136  authorized by the council is nonrefundable unless paid in error.
  137         (5)The council may revoke a Florida SARA institution’s
  138  approval to participate in the SARA if the council determines
  139  such institution is not in compliance with the terms and
  140  provisions of the SARA.
  141         (6)A Florida SARA institution may withdraw from
  142  participation as a Florida SARA institution by submitting notice
  143  of its intent to withdraw to the council, which shall become
  144  effective at the beginning of the next academic term after
  145  receipt of such notice.
  146         (7)Decisions of the council are not subject to chapter
  147  120.
  148         (8)This section does not supersede the requirements in
  149  chapter 1005 relating to postsecondary educational institutions
  150  under the jurisdiction of the commission.
  151         (9)The state board shall adopt rules to implement this
  152  section.
  153         Section 2. Paragraph (h) is added to subsection (1) of
  154  section 1005.06, Florida Statutes, to read:
  155         1005.06 Institutions not under the jurisdiction or purview
  156  of the commission.—
  157         (1) Except as otherwise provided in law, the following
  158  institutions are not under the jurisdiction or purview of the
  159  commission and are not required to obtain licensure:
  160         (h)Any non-Florida institution that has been approved by a
  161  member state to participate in the State Authorization
  162  Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), as those terms are defined in s.
  163  1000.35(2), if the degree programs that may be offered and the
  164  activities that may be conducted by such institution in this
  165  state are limited to the distance education degree programs and
  166  activities provided in and consistent with the terms and
  167  provisions of the SARA.
  168         Section 3. Subsection (11) of section 1005.31, Florida
  169  Statutes, is amended to read:
  170         1005.31 Licensure of institutions.—
  171         (11) The commission shall establish minimum standards for
  172  the approval of agents. The commission may adopt rules to ensure
  173  that licensed agents meet these standards and uphold the intent
  174  of this chapter. An agent may not solicit prospective students
  175  in this state for enrollment in any independent postsecondary
  176  educational institution under the commission’s purview or in any
  177  out-of-state independent postsecondary educational institution
  178  unless the agent has received a license as prescribed by the
  179  commission or solicits for a postsecondary educational
  180  institution that is not under the jurisdiction of the commission
  181  pursuant to s. 1005.06(1)(h).
  182         Section 4. The Division of Law Revision and Information is
  183  directed to replace the phrase “the effective date of this act”
  184  wherever it occurs in this act with the date this act becomes a
  185  law.
  186         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.