Statehouse Report 5
Last week was very busy for the IU Government Relations team as we spent many hours in committee hearings. The volume of bill activity increased as the Feb. 19 deadline for committee bill hearings approaches.
A highlight of floor activity in the Senate was a resolution recognizing former state Sen. Vi Simpson for her 28 years of service as a state senator. Simpson was a special friend to IU and loyal supporter and was very successful in helping IU throughout her career.
Bills that moved
As reported last week, the Senate Education Committee held a committee hearing solely dedicated to higher-education-related bills. IU representatives provided the committee with testimony on each of the following bills, all of which were held for final action, including possible amendment, at the next meeting of the committee:
SB 98 Regional Campuses: The bill specifies certain provisions be included in a governance agreement or an operational contract for a regional campus.
SB 177 Veterans Tuition: The bill would require institutions to charge resident tuition to veterans enrolling within 12 months of discharge, if certain evidence of settlement in Indiana were provided.
SB 180 Higher Education Grading Practices and Faculty Organization: The bill would require public universities to provide the Commission for Higher Education with information concerning grading practices for courses that are required to fill general education requirements, and the commission to file an annual report of the information with the General Assembly. It also requires the commission to compile information from each campus of each state educational institution concerning faculty organizational structure for the campus.
SB 182 State Educational Institutions; Credit Transfers: The bill would require the Commission for Higher Education to develop, implement and maintain a common course numbering system for general education curriculum courses. It also requires institutions to give priority in admissions to Indiana residents holding an associate degree and, upon admittance, accept all credit earned as part of the associate degree as credit toward a baccalaureate degree. Also requires specific competencies to be included in the statewide transfer general education core.
SB 406 Postsecondary Enrollment Opportunities: The bill would consolidate and update existing statutes concerning concurrent enrollment courses, dual credit courses and early college programs.
SB 409 Teacher Licensing: The bill specifies that teacher education schools and departments in Indiana shall issue initial practitioner licenses to individuals who successfully complete the requirements for graduation and who otherwise meet the requirements to receive an initial practitioner license. IU School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez and several of his colleagues at sister institutions testified in opposition to the bill.
In the House Education Committee, two higher-education-related bills were heard:
HB 1312 EARN Program: The bill revises the state's existing college work study program, primarily to emphasize internship opportunities with both public and private employers. The bill was voted out of committee without amendment.
HB 1348 State Student Financial Aid Programs: The bill would make a number of changes to existing state student financial assistance programs, including Frank O'Bannon and 21st Century Scholars awards. As reported last week, the author of the bill met with a number of student financial assistance administrators from several campuses and subsequently, revisions were made to the bill that were adopted as an amendment in committee. In addition, Gov. Mike Pence's individual student degree mapping initiative and an early graduation grant incentive were added to the bill by amendment.
In other committees, the following bills were heard:
HB 1002 Indiana Career Council: This bill would establish the Indiana Career Council, which would align participants in the state's education, job skills development and career training system and match them with existing and future needs of the state's job market. The participants would oversee the Indiana workforce intelligence system and submit a strategic plan to the general assembly.
HB 1279 Special License Plates: This bill would establish a legislative committee to review new applications for special vehicle license plates as well as require periodic review and extension of existing special plates held by organizations, including Indiana University. The bill was amended in committee.
SB 465 Indiana Works Councils: The bill would establish Indiana Works Councils for distinct geographic areas designated by the governor. Such councils would submit a comprehensive evaluation of career, technical and vocational education opportunities available to high school students in their region. Councils would develop alternative career, technical or vocational educational curriculums for high school students to earn an industry certification, earn credits toward an associate degree or establish a career pathway to a high wage, high demand job that is available in the region.
SB 578 State Budget Committee Review: The bill would require review by the State Budget Committee of university agreements to monetize university assets. The bill was heard in the Appropriations Committee, and IU testified.
Finally, last week the House considered the following bills that IU is tracking:
HB 1005 Remediation: The bill, which includes a number of provisions to help ensure that students are prepared for dual-credit coursework in high school as well as ultimately ready for college, passed second and third readings in the House and is now pending in the Senate.
HB 1175 Search Fee for Public Records Requests: The bill, which would allow a state or local government public agency to charge a fee for any records search in excess of two hours, passed the House and is now pending in the Senate.
We expect to be even busier with many bills to be heard in committee as the committee hearing deadline approaches. The House Ways and Means Committee will be holding a hearing on K-12 and Higher Education funding issues Tuesday to obtain public testimony on the biennial budget. We expect that the committee will be amending the introduced biennial budget bill very soon. We also expect final committee action on all of the higher education bills heard by the Senate Education Committee as described above.