Posted on Friday, February 9, 2018

General Assembly – Week 5 Update: Feb. 9, 2018

Crossover and Budget Recommendations

A lot of activity was swirling this week as the House and Senate committees began dispatching bills since legislation must “cross over” from the house of origin to the opposite house by Tuesday, February 13. Next week, members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will be buttoning down their budget recommendations, to be released on Sunday, February 18.

As of this morning, there have been 157 bills carried over until 2019 and over 2,300 bills are still pending. The House Appropriations Committee scheduled, and then cancelled, three meetings this week. Instead, they are having a mega meeting today after the House of Delegates adjourns to consider 38 bills, many of which have been sent there because of fiscal impact and are likely to stall.  

The HAC meeting will include a number of bills that the House Education Committee reported, and then re-referred. Of interest to the VCCS is HB 285 (Murphy) allowing the VCCS to use excess TANF funds to establish scholarships for students in two pilot locations and which is identical to SB 27 which has already passed the Senate. In addition, HB 351 (Reid) which would freeze tuition and limit room and board charges at institutions of higher education and HB 1138 (Price) to establish an ombudsman at SCHEV to educate students about student loans and track student loan data (Price) will be heard in the HAC this afternoon. The omnibus House dual enrollment bill, HB 919 (Jones) will also be heard this afternoon in the HAC. 

Dual Enrollment

On February 8, SB 77 (Sturdevant) and SB 107 (Suetterlein) establishing universal transfer courses for dual enrollment were folded together in Senate Education and Health. Also, SB 77 was merged into SB 631 (Dunnavant), the Senate omnibus dual enrollment bill. The “subject to appropriation” clause was added to SB 631, meaning that it will not go forward unless there is a sufficient appropriation. According to continuing dialogue between the VCCS and the patrons of the bills, the bills will continue to be amended and reconciled after crossover. 

Bills sent to the Joint Subcommittee Studying the Future Competitiveness of Higher Education

A number of bills in the 2018 General Assembly which would freeze or limit increases in tuition and room and board, change the duties of higher education governing boards, or establish tuition discounts for certain categories of students, have been tabled and referred to the Joint Subcommittee Studying the Future Competitiveness of Higher Education. The Joint Subcommittee was established by budget language in 2015; members have had several meetings during the intervening years but have not arrived at any final recommendations. The group is tasked with reviewing ways to maintain and improve the quality of higher education and intersecting it with SCHEV’s strategic plan, providing for broad access and affordability, looking at financial, demographic, and competitive changes to sustain individual institutions and the system as a whole, exploring efficiency measures such as shared services and transfer, evaluating distance education and online instruction, and reviewing financial aid programs and models to incentivize students to complete their studies. The Joint Subcommittee must also study the effectiveness and value of transfer students and  evaluate the effectiveness of dual enrollment in reducing the cost of higher education. 

To date, bills sent to the Joint Subcommittee include HB 249 (Miyares) to cap in-state tuition rates, HB 470 (Reid) to waive tuition and fees for dependents of disabled veterans, HB 476 (Reid) to waive tuition and fees for individuals pursuing community service careers, HB 643 (Hope) to reduce tuition for first responders, and HB 1279 and 1463 (Tran) regarding transfer of community college credit and military experience to four-year institutions for individuals serving in the Armed Forces. 

Bill List

Please see the VCCS Bills List – 2-8-18 for more information.  

Laura Osberger

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