Florida Senate - 2021 SB 1472 By Senator Pizzo 38-01895-21 20211472__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Assistant State Attorney and 3 Assistant Public Defender Student Loan Repayment 4 Program; creating s. 1009.695, F.S.; establishing a 5 student loan repayment program within the Department 6 of Education for assistant state attorneys and 7 assistant public defenders; providing the purpose of 8 the program; requiring the Department of Education to 9 administer the program; providing requirements for 10 eligibility; providing procedures for payments; 11 requiring payments to be contingent upon proof of 12 eligibility and annual recertification through an 13 annual certification affidavit; specifying 14 certification criteria; providing that payments are 15 not considered taxable income; requiring the 16 department to reduce payments for all program 17 participants by a proportional amount if appropriated 18 funds are insufficient to provide maximum payment for 19 all program participants’ loans; authorizing the 20 Department of Education to adopt rules; providing for 21 program funding; providing an effective date. 22 23 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 24 25 Section 1. Section 1009.695, Florida Statutes, is created 26 to read: 27 1009.695 Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public 28 Defender Student Loan Repayment Program.— 29 (1) The Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public 30 Defender Student Loan Repayment Program is established within 31 the Department of Education. The purpose of the program is to 32 increase employment and retention of assistant state attorneys 33 and assistant public defenders in the public sector by making 34 payments that offset student loans issued or guaranteed by a 35 state or the Federal Government. The department shall administer 36 the program. 37 (2) To be eligible to participate in the program, the 38 assistant state attorney or assistant public defender must meet 39 all of the following requirements: 40 (a) Be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar. 41 (b) Be employed full time by a state attorney or public 42 defender in the state. 43 (c) Have completed not more than a total of 10 years of 44 continuous service as an assistant state attorney or assistant 45 public defender. 46 (d) Be earning a salary of less than $65,000 as an 47 assistant state attorney or assistant public defender. 48 (e) Not have received any disciplinary action from The 49 Florida Bar. 50 (f) Have an unsatisfied student loan that was issued or 51 guaranteed by a state or the Federal Government. 52 (g) Not be eligible for any other state, local, or federal 53 grant or private fund that assists in student loan repayment. 54 (3) Only student loans that are not in default and that 55 were issued pursuant to the Higher Education Act of 1965, 20 56 U.S.C. ss. 1001 et seq., as amended, to fund a program 57 participant’s law school education are eligible for repayment 58 under the program. 59 (4) From the funds available, the Department of Education 60 shall make an annual payment pursuant to subsection (6) as 61 follows: 62 (a) Three thousand dollars if the program participant has a 63 total of at least 4 years, but not more than 7 years, of 64 continuous service as an assistant state attorney or assistant 65 public defender. 66 (b) Five thousand dollars if the program participant has a 67 total of more than 7 years, but not more than 10 years, of 68 continuous service as an assistant state attorney or assistant 69 public defender. 70 (5) All payments are contingent upon continued proof of 71 eligibility through an annual certification affidavit on a form 72 authorized by the department which certifies that the program 73 participant meets all eligibility requirements of this section 74 as of his or her most recent employment anniversary. A program 75 participant must submit such affidavit to his or her employer 76 within 30 days after his or her employment anniversary. If the 77 employer signs such affidavit, the employer must submit the 78 signed annual certification affidavit to the department within 79 60 days after the program participant’s most recent employment 80 anniversary. 81 (6) Payments made pursuant to this section do not 82 constitute taxable income to the program participant. Each 83 payment shall be made directly to the financial institution that 84 services the program participant’s student loan. If the program 85 participant holds more than one student loan that is eligible 86 for repayment under this section, payment shall be made toward 87 the program participant’s student loan that has the highest 88 current interest rate. 89 (7) If funds appropriated are insufficient to provide 90 maximum payment for all program participants’ student loans, the 91 department shall reduce payments for all program participants by 92 a proportional amount for the year for which funds appropriated 93 are insufficient. 94 (8) The Department of Education may adopt rules necessary 95 to administer the program. 96 (9) The Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public 97 Defender Student Loan Repayment Program may be funded annually, 98 contingent upon a specific appropriation in the General 99 Appropriations Act. 100 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.