- Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education Releases Report
- Regulatory Relief Act To Be Introduced in the House Later Today
- IN BRIEF: House Bill Exempts Student Workers From Obamacare; House Approves Permanent Extension of IRA Charitable Rollover; ACE Annual Meeting to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of ACE Fellows Program
I am pleased to let you know that the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education has concluded its work, and the bipartisan group of U.S. senators that created the task force released a report yesterday examining how the federal oversight of higher education has evolved and expanded over the years.
I greatly appreciate the vision of Sens. Lamar Alexander, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Burr and Michael Bennet in establishing this group in 2013, and I am pleased that ACE could support its work and assist in producing this report. I also would like to thank co-chairs Chancellors William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland and Nicholas S. Zeppos of Vanderbilt University (TN), and all the presidents and chancellors who served as task force members.
The report offers a set of recommendations aimed at streamlining and simplifying regulations that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students, even as it reaffirms the important role regulations play in ensuring institutional accountability and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The aim was not simply to reduce the number of regulations imposed by the Department of Education (ED) and other federal agencies, but also to foster more effective and efficient rules that still meet federal objectives.
The task force engaged in extensive consultations for this project and solicited insights from higher education associations, campus officials and other organizations and stakeholders. ACE staff conducted numerous site visits and met with representatives from more than 60 colleges and universities around the country to gather input from staff responsible for implementing regulations. My thanks to those on your campuses who were so willing to give us their time to discuss this vital issue. (See my full statement on the report here, as well as a statement from Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, here.)
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 24 to explore the report's findings and recommendations in detail.
Also on the federal regulation front, three House members today are expected to introduce legislation that would block some of the most controversial Department of Education regulations.
Sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education & Workforce Training, Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and John Kline (R-MN), chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, the bill would block Department of Education regulations dealing with state authorization, credit hour and gainful employment. ED also would be prohibited from continuing work on their plan to rate colleges and the proposed regulations on the quality of teacher preparation programs.
The bill would simply bar ED from enforcing or continuing to develop these regulations until Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act. The idea behind the bill is to give Congress the opportunity to consider how best to deal with these issues—and lawmakers may elect to do so in a different way than the Obama administration. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is expected to introduce companion legislation later this month.
The sponsors have not yet discussed their plans for moving the legislation forward. I know this is of great interest to many of you, and you may want to discuss with your own elected officials.
I will have more detail on the legislation in an upcoming issue of President to President.
ACE and a group of seven higher education associations sent a letter this week to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), endorsing his bill to exempt full-time students from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate, which requires that large employers—including colleges and universities—offer health insurance plans to employees working 30 hours a week or more. Under the ACA, Federal Work-Study students who work 30 or more hours a week are not subject to the employer mandate, but other students employed on campus who do must be offered employer-sponsored health care plans.
The House yesterday voted 279-137 to approve a bill (H.R. 644) that contains a package of tax incentives, including a permanent extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover, which allows tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts to charitable organizations. For the last several years, the IRA rollover provision has been included among so-called tax extenders that expire and have to be renewed by Congress late in the year at the end of a session. The last extension was valid for a mere two weeks, expiring on Dec. 31, 2014. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill over the lack of offsets to pay for the tax breaks. Senate Democrats also are likely to oppose the bill without a source of revenue to cover its cost.
Finally this week, for campus leaders who are former ACE Fellows, ACE’s 97th Annual Meeting next month will feature a number of activities and sessions focusing on the ACE Fellows Program, which this academic year marks its 50th anniversary. Several special events are being hosted for current and former Fellows, including a 50th anniversary dinner and dance on Saturday, March 14, and an ACE Fellows networking luncheon on Sunday, March 15. The meeting also features several sessions planned and organized by the Council of Fellows, the ACE Fellows Program alumni organization. For more information and to register, see the Annual Meeting website.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE