(1) The purpose of this section is to authorize this state to participate in a reciprocity agreement with other states for the delivery of postsecondary distance education. Each member state or institution participating in a reciprocity agreement must accept each other’s authorization of accredited institutions to operate in their state to offer distance educational services beyond state boundaries.
(2) For purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Commission” means the Commission for Independent Education.
(b) “Complaint” means a formal assertion in writing that a person, institution, state, agency, or other entity operating under a reciprocity agreement has violated the terms of a reciprocity agreement or the laws, standards, or regulations incorporated therein.
(c) “Council” means the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Coordinating Council, which serves as the single portal entity designated by the state to administer a reciprocity agreement and serves as the interstate point of contact for questions, complaints, and other matters related to a reciprocity agreement.
(d) “Department” means the Department of Education.
(e) “Florida institution” means a postsecondary educational institution approved by the council to participate in a reciprocity agreement.
(f) “Institution” means a public or private postsecondary degree-granting college or university that is accredited by a federally recognized accrediting body and that awards, at a minimum, associate-level degrees requiring at least 2 years of full-time equivalent college work.
(g) “Member state” means a state, territory, or district of the United States which has been approved to participate in a reciprocity agreement.
(h) “Non-Florida institution” means an institution approved by a member state other than this state to participate in a reciprocity agreement.
(i) “Reciprocity agreement” means an agreement that establishes reciprocity between a member state that accepts other member states’ authorization of accredited institutions to operate in their states to offer distance educational services beyond state boundaries pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in the agreement.
(j) “State board” means the State Board of Education.
(3) The council is created within the department for the purpose of administering a reciprocity agreement. The council shall consist of the following persons or their designees: the Chancellor of the State University System, the Chancellor of the Florida College System, the Commissioner of Education, the executive director of the commission, and the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. The commission shall provide administrative support for the council. The council shall:
(a) Within 60 days after June 9, 2017, apply for this state to participate as a member state of a reciprocity agreement;
(b) Serve as the single portal entity for administration of a reciprocity agreement;
(c) Review and approve applications from institutions in this state to participate in a reciprocity agreement and establish an appeals process for institutions that are not approved to participate in a reciprocity agreement;
(d) Ensure compliance by Florida institutions with the terms and provisions of a reciprocity agreement, including, but not limited to, accreditation and institutional quality, consumer information and protection, disclosure and reporting requirements, complaint mechanisms, and financial responsibility;
(e) Comply with the terms and provisions of a reciprocity agreement relating to any member state, Florida institution, or non-Florida institution;
(f) Comply with the reporting requirements in a reciprocity agreement and post all such reports on the council’s website;
(g) Consistent with the complaint resolution processes in a reciprocity agreement, develop and administer a complaint resolution process to resolve complaints related to a reciprocity agreement after all complaint processes in place at a Florida institution have been exhausted by the complainant;
(h) Delegate any responsibilities, obligations, or authorities necessary for the administration of this state’s participation in a reciprocity agreement to the commission’s staff; and
(i) Recommend rules necessary to administer this section for adoption by the state board.
(4) The Governor may request that the council convene for the purpose of reconsidering this state’s participation in a reciprocity agreement. The council shall provide a recommendation to the Governor within 14 days. Regardless of the council’s recommendation, or lack thereof, the Governor may withdraw this state from participation in a reciprocity agreement. Such withdrawal shall take effect 90 days after the Governor’s decision or by the end of the current academic term of each participating Florida institution, whichever occurs later. For purposes of this subsection, the term “current academic term” means the academic term in which a participating Florida institution has enrolled students at the time of the Governor’s decision to withdraw. If the Governor decides to withdraw this state from participation in a reciprocity agreement, each participating Florida institution must provide the end date of its current academic term to the council.
(5) The council shall collect an annual fee from each Florida institution participating in a reciprocity agreement. The fee shall be based on the Florida institution’s total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment as shown in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and shall be assessed as follows:
(a) Not to exceed $1,500 per year for a Florida institution participating in a reciprocity agreement with fewer than 2,500 total FTE enrollment.
(b) Not to exceed $3,000 per year for a Florida institution participating in a reciprocity agreement with at least 2,500 but not more than 9,999 total FTE enrollment.
(c) Not to exceed $4,500 per year for a Florida institution participating in a reciprocity agreement with 10,000 or more total FTE enrollment.
Within the limitations imposed under this subsection, the fee shall be set at an amount that will generate no more than the total revenue necessary for the council’s operation. The council shall lower the fee if the total revenue generated is higher than the total revenue necessary for the council’s operation. By February 15, 2018, and each February 15 thereafter, the council shall submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must show that the total revenue generated is not higher than the total revenue necessary for the council’s operation, must include a justification of staff needed for the council, and must include the number of Florida institutions participating in a reciprocity agreement. All fees collected pursuant to this subsection shall be submitted by the department to the Chief Financial Officer for deposit into a separate account within the Institutional Assessment Trust Fund. Any fee collected by the council pursuant to this subsection is nonrefundable unless paid in error.
(6) The council may revoke a Florida institution’s approval to participate in a reciprocity agreement if the council determines that such institution is not in compliance with the terms and provisions of the reciprocity agreement.
(7) A Florida institution participating in a reciprocity agreement may withdraw from participation in the reciprocity agreement by submitting notice of its intent to withdraw to the council, which shall become effective at the beginning of the next academic term after receipt of such notice.
(8) Decisions of the council are not subject to chapter 120.
(9) This section does not supersede the requirements in chapter 1005 relating to postsecondary educational institutions under the jurisdiction of the commission.
(10) The state board shall adopt rules to implement this section.