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"A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."
– Frank Lloyd Wright
THE
BULLETIN
Volume 74 | Issue 3
May 2006

Public Policy Update

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

The House’s and the Senate’s three-month extensions for the Higher Education Act reauthorization expire on June 30. The House bill, H.R. 609, passed on March 30. Two significant amendments to the bill include: (1) a program to provide matching grants to eligible institutions for the professional installation of fire detection/alarm systems and other fire-prevention technologies for student housing facilities, and (2) a program that establishes and operates pregnant and parenting student services offices and assists students in identifying and accessing relevant services. Both of these programs would allow grant funding through the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).

The Senate version of Reauthorization was attached to the Budget Reconciliation Bill and will need to be reintroduced and passed as a stand-alone bill to be conferenced. It is unlikely that this bill will be addressed in the Senate before the November elections.

2007 budget updates

On March 16, Sen. Arlen Spector (R-Pa.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) proposed an amendment to add $1.5 billion to the 2007 education spending budget. The vote was 73-27 and survived after the Senate had enacted a 1 percent across the board cut to all domestic spending programs. As of April 1, the House had not taken up the education spending bill for 2007, but was expected to begin hearings in the next several weeks.

Immigration

The House immigration bill, H.R. 4437, was introduced and passed in December. The Senate’s immigration bill, S.Amdt. 3192 was passed out of the Judiciary Committee in the end of March and includes a guest worker program as well as provisions for financial aid for students who become permanent residents under the act. The big difference between the House bill and what is being proposed in the Senate is the guest worker program. The House bill focuses only on border security and enforcement. It also has much tougher provisions including strong penalties for non-documented immigrants and those who aid them. It is unknown whether the Senate bill will pass considering that this is a controversial issue in an election year and it has many additional state-specific nuances.

Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act

H.R. 1548/S713 allows tax-deductible contributions to fraternity and sorority foundations to be used for the same purposes that a college or university could use such contributions (except for physical fitness equipment). Through this act, alumni could donate to their university and earmark contributions for chapter house structural or study area improvements.

Textbook issues

Several states have introduced legislation related to textbook affordability. Virginia House Bill 1478, which has passed both houses, encourages efforts to minimize costs and requires stores to sell unbundled items if they are available from publishers. Washington House Bill 3087 was signed into law on March 15. It mandates state university boards to adopt rules requiring affiliated bookstores to implement procedures that maximize cost savings to students through proactive practices to disclose costs to faculty members, offer book buy-back programs, and to sell unbundled materials when available.

ACE launches ‘Solutions for Our Future’ initiative

The American Council on Education (ACE) initiated a national outreach campaign to raise awareness about higher education’s critical role in the future of the United States. With 400 institutions participating, the “Solutions for Our Future” initiative is a multi-year program to highlight the broad societal benefits of higher education.

Changes in ACUI public policy information

A new forum topic is available in the ACUI Forum for discussion of public policy issues. This medium will most likely replace the public policy listserve. To access the discussion, visit the ACUI Forum at www.forum.acui.org. Once you are logged in to the site, you may read current discussions and opt to receive notification of posts to the discussion topic.

The Public Policy Center will be expanded to include state-level legislation that impacts the ACUI membership. If you would like to volunteer to track issues in your state or for a specific issue area, please contact Kim Savage at kim@uic.edu.