Higher Education Legislation in 2017

5/21/2018

graduatesFor 2017, enacted higher education legislation remained focused on familiar areas of state concern. College affordability remained the top issue of legislative activity as states took actions to stabilize or even reduce tuition, cap student fees, and encourage the use of open resources.

Workforce development emerged as a central focus across the states. Legislatures continue to seek ways to support and expand access to vocational training and preparedness opportunities. In fact, legislative categories throughout this summary indicate an overarching theme of workforce development and preparedness. The ability to meet a rapidly changing modern economy requires many approaches, and state legislatures’ actions prove this point.

Legislation focused on community colleges reflects a desire to enhance regional access. Innovative uses of community colleges include allowing the construction of residence halls, and connecting apprenticeship programs to community colleges for oversight, guidance, and academic credit. Efforts also were made to ease the ability to transfer academic credit from community colleges to traditional four-year institutions.

In addition to concerns of workforce preparation, state legislatures also focused on issues of postsecondary governance seeking greater efficiency and accountability among postsecondary institutions. Many of the bills provide for a more comprehensive yet streamlined state postsecondary system incorporating areas of career education, apprenticeships, credentials, degrees, and academic transfer. This includes providing academic credit for specific military-based training in high-need high-skill industries. 

Adult education emerged as a new category as legislatures seek to assist those with some postsecondary credits to move further towards degree completion and workforce readiness. This category also indicates the development of a lifelong learning perspective over the traditional emphasis on young adult learning. An emerging issue is adult education apprenticeship standards, again reflecting a broad lifelong workforce development theme.

With adult education forming one end of the nontraditional perspective, the increased emphasis on postsecondary dual credit in secondary education is forming the other. As states seek to help students earn affordable credentials in a timely manner, dual enrollment has become a consistent legislative interest. In 2017, states created scholarships for students currently enrolled in dual credit programs and as an incentive for students to continue their studies after completing high school with earned postsecondary credits. The effort also reveals that some form of postsecondary education is needed for the contemporary workforce, even if not a traditional college degree. Increasingly, states are looking to local community colleges to form partnerships and supportive programs with local K-12 school districts.

Finally, concern for military veterans and their transition to post-military careers garnered legislation focused on vocational training and academic credit for military-based training. These efforts support a general perspective of the credibility and trustworthiness of vocational and career technical training provided in the military environment.

Many of the bills in the summaries below could appear in more than one category (e.g., affordability bill for military veterans). Again, this supports an overarching inclusive theme of workforce development and preparation in a rapidly changing global/technological economic environment.

Adult Education 

With the growing awareness of state workforce challenges, states are strengthening adult education standards, programming and access. Enacted bills connect adult education to community colleges to enhance educational access and pathways—leading to intentional workforce preparedness and development.

State Legislation Related to Adult Education 
Idaho House Bill 228 authorizes the expansion of online educational resources available through internet-based portals to include Idaho parents, educators and other adult learners in addition to existing student resources. 
Illinois

Senate Joint Resolution 40 creates a statewide Task Force on the Future of Adult Education and Literacy within the Community College Board to create a statewide strategic plan for adult education and literacy.

Kentucky House Bill 195 allows the Kentucky Adult Education program to establish programs aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education, which, upon successful completion, will result in the issuance of High School Equivalency Diploma, requires at least one program to include a test aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education, to serve as a qualifying test, which upon passing will entitle students to receive a High School Equivalency Diploma. 
Maryland House Bill 810 requires the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning to adopt regulation to carry out specified provisions of law, provides that the division is the designated state Apprenticeship Agency under specified provisions of federal law, alters duties of the Apprenticeship and Training Council, prohibits specified persons from taking specified actions regarding apprenticeship programs for specified occupations unless the program is first approved by the division, rather than the council. 

 

Community Colleges 

Enacted bills related to community colleges reflect the growing importance of these institutions to meet state needs at regional and local levels. Efforts to provide residence halls on community college campuses, better connect apprenticeships and ease transfer of academic credit indicate the importance of these institutions as the economic and community “hub” for those seeking to further their education and preparedness—and for states to be able to respond to regional needs quickly.

State Legislation Related to Community and Junior Colleges
Arkansas Senate Bill 309 repeals the prohibition on community colleges and technical colleges from constructing, maintaining, or operating a dormitory or barracks.  
California Assembly Bill 1731 revises the principles upon which the California Community Colleges Economic Workforce Development Program operates to require the program to provide guidance to local educational agencies on the allocation and oversight of apprenticeships training funds, consistent with the rules set by the California Apprenticeship Council. Provides for audits. 
South Dakota Senate Bill 65 establishes the South Dakota Board of Technical Education and revises certain provisions regarding career and technical education and post-secondary technical institutes, provides for funding and contracts. 
Virginia Senate Bill 999 requires the State Board for Community Colleges to require each comprehensive community college to develop policies and procedures for awarding academic credit to enrolled students who have successfully completed a state-approved registered apprenticeship credential.
Virginia Senate Bill 1234 requires the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia and each public institution of higher education to develop a passport credit program that will be offered at each associate-degree-granting public institution of higher education. Under the program, each passport credit course shall satisfy a lower division general education requirement at any public institution of Higher educations. The bill requires the Council to develop such program by July 1, 2020, and each associate-degree- granting public institution of higher education to offer such a program by the 2020-2021 academic year. 
 

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment has received attention over recent years for two main reasons: the need for post-secondary education in some form across many workforce venues; and the efficiencies gained in postsecondary time-to-degree and related costs for young people graduating from high schools. Enacted bills also make nontraditional postsecondary education eligible for existing traditional four-year college scholarships and grants. The bills below expand access to those who might not consider the traditional college degree experience.

State Legislation Related to Dual Enrollment
Arkansas Senate Bill 673 amends prohibitions of the Arkansas code concerning concurrent credit, provides a reduction in tuition or any tuition paid by the institution of higher education under specified sections shall not be considered an institutional scholarship, amends specified provisions concerning tuition for endorsed concurrent enrollment courses. 
Connecticut House bill 7202 establishes a division of post-secondary education programs within the technical high school system. 
Idaho Senate Bill 1029 amends existing law to provide that a school district shall provide counseling services regarding the granting of post-secondary credit for career technical courses, authorized the school district to grant credit for career technical courses. 
Kentucky House Bill 206 establishes the Dual Credit Scholarship Program, defines terms for the program, including eligible high school student and participating institution, designates the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority to administer the program and require the agency to promulgate administrative regulations for the administration of the program, defines student eligibility for the program, prescribes the scholarship amount calculation and maximum scholarship amount. 
Maryland Senate Bill 319 establishes the pathways in Technology Early College High School Program, requires the State Department of Education, in consultation with the Maryland Higher Education Commission, to administer and develop the program, prohibits a student from being considered a dually enrolled student under certain circumstances, requires P-TECH students to be included in the full-time equivalent enrollment student under certain  circumstances, requires P-TECH students to be included in the full time equivalent enrollment calculation for primary and secondary education, related to certain credit hours to be included. 
Nevada Senate Bill 19 relates to education, prescribes the requirements for a pupil to enroll in a dual credit course, provides that the State Board of Education must not unreasonably limit the number of dual credit courses in which a pupil may enroll, requires the board of trustees of each school district to provide written notice identifying the dial credit courses available to pupils enrolled in the district, requires each school district and charter school to enter into a cooperative agreement. 
Texas Senate Bill 22 establishes the pathways in Technology Early College High School, P-TECH, program and to the repeal of the tech-prep program, provides definitions, provides board membership and requirements, provides that P-Tech must be open enrollment, combines high school and post-secondary curricula, provides that upon completion students will be awarded a high school diploma, associate’s degree, a two year post-secondary or industry certificate. 
Virginia Senate Bill 245 requires each comprehensive community college to enter into agreements with the local school divisions it serves to facilitate dual enrollment of eligible students into a Career Pathways program preparing student to pass a high school equivalency examination offered by the local school division and a postsecondary credential, certification, or license attainment program offered by the comprehensive community college. 

 

Financial Aid and Affordability 

Enacted bills related to affordability focus on providing financial assistance for members of the National Guard, military veterans, and their dependents, acknowledging the high-level training received in service. Finding ways to convert previous training into academic credit also reduces time-to-degree and associated tuition costs.

Beyond the military perspective, affordability efforts strengthen dual credit options and establish programs to enhance workforce development accessibility and coordination.

State Legislation Related to Financial Aid and Affordability 
Alabama Senate Bill 315 sets the tuition rate for a member of the state National Guard for a state-supported four-year institution, establishes a tuition reimbursement for National Guard members who meet certain requirements, relates to the educational scholarship benefits for dependents of veterans, establishes residency requirements for veterans and dependents. 

Arizona

House Bill 2214 relates to income tax subtractions, allows for a subtraction for eligible business access expenditures paid or incurred by a taxpayer in order to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act by retrofitting developed real property. 
Arkansas House Bill 1762 allows an employer to make a matching contribution to an employee's tax deferred tuition saving program as an employee benefit. 
Arkansas Senate Bill 278 provides state-supported educational institution tuition assistance for soldiers and airmen of the Arkansas National guard.  
Arkansas Senate Bill 773 amends the law concerning in-state tuition for veterans, military personnel, and dependents.  
Kentucky House Bill 206 establishes the dual credit scholarship program, defines terms for the program, including eligible high school student and participating institution, designates the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority to administer the program and require the agency to promulgate administrative regulations for the administration of the program, defines student eligibility for the program, prescribes the scholarship amount calculation and maximum scholarship amount.  
Mississippi Senate Bill 2311 creates the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, defines certain terms and phrases relating to the ABLE program, establishes and prescribes the power of the ABLE Board of Directors relating to the administration of the ABLE program, prescribes certain terms of ABLE participation agreements entered into under the program, establishes the ABLE trust fund, exempts property in the trust fund from taxation, relates to interest, dividends, gains or income of any kind on any account, relates to contributions. 
Nevada Assembly Bill 202 revises provisions relating to the Silver State Opportunity Grant program, directs the Legislative Commission to appoint a committee to conduct an interim study concerning the cost and affordability of higher education in this State.
Oregon Senate Bill 1032 amends provisions relating to the Oregon Promise Program, directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to determine whether sufficient funds exist to award the grant prior to the fall term of each academic year, exempts persons service in the Oregon National Guard from the 6-month enrollment requirement for community college courses.
South Dakota House Bill 1013 revises certain provisions regarding the payment of tuition for member of the South Dakota National Guard and to declare emergency.  
Utah Senate Bill 163 modifies provisions of the Student Data Protection Act, amends definitions, permits a third-party contractor to identify for a student institution of higher education or scholarship providers that are seeking students who meet specific criteria, allows a student to access information about an education provider or scholarship provider.  
Virginia House Bill 66 establishes a grant program that would pay grants to persons who complete a specified number of hours of community service and who subsequently complete a noncredit workforce training program and earn the related credential in a high-demand field, provides the amount of the grant would be limited to payment of tuition charged for the training, includes community colleges. 
Virginia Senate Bill 576 establishes the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program to create a demand driven supply of credentialed workers, expand the affordability of workforce training, and credentialing, and increase interest in trade level positions, provide definitions, creates the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Fund, provides for fund and grant administration, provides for grant eligibility.  
Virginia House Bill 961 permits each public institution of higher education to offer alternative tuition or structures to students that result in lower cost of attendance, including discounted tuition, flat tuition rates, discounted student fees, or student fee and student services flexibility, to any first-time, incoming freshman undergraduate student who meets specified requirements, allows a structure to be renewed each year if the recipient maintain eligibility.  

 

Governance

In keeping with the overall workforce development theme, enacted bills related to governance reveal legislative concerns with postsecondary institutions and systems keeping up with rapid economic and technological changes and demands. Enacted bills relate to issues of system establishment and authority, accreditation, clarified channels of access and transfer.

States Legislation Related to Governance
Alabama House Bill 163 provides for the operation of the Community College System as a body corporate, clarifies eligibility of employees of the system and community and technical colleges to participate in the Teachers' Retirement System, the Public Education Employees' Health Insurance Plan, the State Employees' Plan, and qualified health plans under the federal Patient Protection, creates the Community College System corporate body with all such rights, privileges and powers. 
Arkansas House Bill 1650 transfers the State Board of Private Career Education to the Department of Higher Education, amends the powers and duties of the state board of private career education. 
Colorado House Bill 1004 concerns a statewide policy for awarding college credit for military education and training, requires a report on the statewide metric for military credit. 
Rhode Island Senate Bill 554 requires accreditation by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education for distance learning institution to transact business or grant degrees in Rhode Island. 
South Dakota Senate Bill 65 establishes the South Dakota Board of Technical Education and revises certain provisions regarding career and technical education and post-secondary technical institutes, provides for funding and contracts. 

 

Veterans

As noted above, state legislatures have taken an interest in removing barriers for military veterans to participate in post-secondary education. This includes offering academic credit for prior military training to accelerate veterans’ success in post-military careers, particularly vocations that are identified by states as high-need, high-skill.

States Legislation Related to Veterans
Arizona House Bill 2270 provides that each community college district governing board shall develop policies to require community colleges to award vocational credits for current or former member of the United States military based on the member's length of service and skills the member acquired during their service. 
Colorado House Bill 1004 concerns a statewide policy for awarding college credit for military education and training, required a report on the statewide metric for the military credit.  
Kentucky House Bill 113 requires administrative bodies to issue professional licenses or certificates to military service members or veterans within specified years of an honorable discharge if the training could reasonably be expected to provide the necessary experience and skills, grants the administrative body the right to deny licensure or certification if training is not equivalent, allows appeal rights, requires administrative bodies to promulgate administrative regulations. 
Nevada Senate Bill 457 requires the Board of Regents of the University of Nevada to consult with certain entities to establish statewide standards for the awarding of credit for military education, training or occupational experience, requires that credit earned by a student to be applicable toward the course work required for the award of a degree or certification at a community college, state college or university in the Nevada System of Higher Education. 

 

Workforce Development

Enacted bills related to workforce development coordinate and align career and technical education programs with apprenticeships, credentialing, etc. They also align the programs to broader state strategic plans and initiatives and call for reliable data to track effectiveness and efficiency. Finally, the alignments involve local school districts, state education and labor agencies, and postsecondary institutions in a coordinated and comprehensive strategic approach.

States Legislation Related to Workforce Development
Arkansas Senate Bill 288 creates the workforce development center authority act, authorized the creating and operation of workforce development center authorities for the purpose of provided vocational and technical education, prescribes the powers and financing of workforce development center authorities, permits the issuance of bonds and other forms of indebtedness by a workforce development center authority, permits city and county tax revenue to be dedicated to the benefit of a workforce development center authority. 
Arkansas Senate Bill 441 creates a legislative task force to review technical and workforce education programs and to recommend ways to align the programs to produce an efficient, technologically advanced technical and workforce education system. 
California Assembly Bill 581 requires and apprenticeship program, to be eligible to receive grant funds from the Apprenticeship Council, to agree to keep adequate records that document the expenditure of those funds and make all records available to the Department of Industrial Relations for specified purposes of the department. Requires verification that grants made by the council are used solely for training apprentices.
Colorado House Bill 1041 concerns measures to inform students of education opportunities leading to jobs, requires a school district, board of cooperative services, or charted school that provides concurrent enrollment to provide a notice to students and parents that explains the number of credits and types of credentials a student may earn through concurrent enrollment and the types of jobs that are available to persons who hold those type of credentials, sets forth other requirements. 
Connecticut Senate Bill 1058 concerns the identification of emerging economic trends, requires the CTNext board of directors to issue a request for proposals to enter into an agreement with a private research organization to advise, guide and assist the state in short-term and long-term strategic economic planning.  
Connecticut House Bill 5590 creates a task force to improve the workforce development system in the state of the Connecticut, provides that the early college opportunity program shall be a collaboration between a school district's high schools, a local community college and a company or business entity where a student may earn an industry-recognized, post-secondary degree in addition to a high school diploma, requires state colleges and universities shall establish the position of outreach coordinator. 
Illinois House Bill 2527 authorized eligible applicants to design a high school diploma program for adult learners, requires eligible applicants to apply for approval of a program to the State Superintendent of Education, includes community colleges in the definition, sets forth other requirements. 
Maryland Senate Bill 866 establishes an Adult High School Pilot Program under the authority of the Department of Education and the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, requires a pilot to be subject to the requirements of a certain federal law, requires the Department and the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to establish qualifications for operators of pilots under the Program, provides for the qualifications of teachers and the salaries of certain teachers and certain professional personnel of a pilot. 
New Jersey Senate Bill 1761 directs the community college consortium for workforce and economic development to promote basic skills training through organizations dedicated to the economic empowerment of specific segments of society, such as the African American Chamber of Commerce, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and other appropriate business organizations.
New Jersey Senate Bill 2403 establishes the Women's Vocational Training Pilot Program to promote economic self-sufficiency of low-income women through increased participation in high-wage, high demand occupations, authorizes an allocation of funds.
Rhode Island Senate Bill 826 requests the Governor's Workforce Board work with the Department of Labor and Training to develop a plan for comprehensive expansion of new skills and competency bases apprenticeships in a full array of sectors and to assist employers through the process of initiating a new registered apprenticeship program. 
Texas Senate Bill 22 establishes the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, P_TECH, program and to the repeal of the tech-prep program, provides definitions, provides board membership and requirements, provides that P-Tech must be open enrollment, combines high school and post-secondary curricula, provides that upon completion students will be awarded a high school diploma, associate degree, a two year post-secondary or industry certificate. 
Virginia House Bill 66 establishes a grant program that would pay grants to persons who complete a specified number of hours of community service and who subsequently complete a noncredit workforce training program and earn the related credential in a high-demand field, provides the amount of the grant would be limited to payment of tuition charged for the training, includes community colleges.  
Virginia Senate Bill 999 requires the State Board of Community Colleges to require each comprehensive community college to develop policies and procedures for awarding academic credit to enrolled students who have successfully completed a state-approved registered apprenticeship credential. 

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