Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

February 10, 2006

Senate passes omnibus higher education bill after adopting amendments

On Thursday, Feb. 9, the Senate passed the first major higher education legislation of the 2006 session, sending a substitute version of SB590 to the House that would give the Coordinating Board for Higher Education more power and provide additional scholarships to veterans’ families.

In its final form, the bill incorporates the following proposals that also have been introduced in stand-alone legislation:

During floor debate, a proposal that would have provided an associate degree transfer completer scholarship was stripped out of the bill. That measure would have given scholarships to students who complete an associate’s degree and transfer to a public four-year institution to complete a degree. Concerns about the A+ program led legislators to question whether it was wise to extend the scholarship to the additional students even though the proposal did not require A+ participation. After lengthy debate on an amendment that would have allowed students with A+ scholarships to take them to any public or private institution, senators settled for a means test that would exempt students from families with incomes over $250,000 from receiving A+ unless they were emancipated from their parents.

Earlier in the week, the Senate Education Committee met in executive session to vote out several bills that reflected the proposals in the final version of SB590 when it appeared that bill was bogged down on the floor. The omnibus bill now moves to the House, where it is expected to be assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.

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