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News & Press: Policy Update

Education Committees Closed, Dual Enrollment Funding, Suicide Prevention Plans

Thursday, April 18, 2019  
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Education Committees are Closed

       The majority of the House and Senate standing committees notified leadership that their work for the year has been completed.  This week saw the closing of the Education Committees in both the House and Senate.  Now that the substantive policy work has been done, the focus will turn to passing the budget.  This will be followed by consideration of the Governor’s supplemental budget.  The supplemental budget includes spending on additional issues that have arisen since the Governor submitted his original spending priorities.  Finally, bills behind the budget will be considered if there are sufficient funds remaining.  Bills behind the budget carry fiscal notes but were not included in the Governor’s priorities.  The goal of adjourning in early May seems attainable at this point.        

 

Priority Funding for Dual Enrollment


      Sen. Joey Hensley and Rep. Scott Cepicky have sponsored a bill (SB0319/HB0111) that will move dual enrollment funding up the priority list.  The current funding priority with lottery funds places the Hope Scholarships, Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect, and the Tennessee Promise endowment all ahead of dual enrollment.  With the passage of this bill, dual enrollment funding will move up the priority list ahead of Promise but behind the Hope Scholarships.

This morning the bill passed the House Chamber and will be considered by the Senate next week.

 



Suicide Prevention Plans 


      Sen. Steve Dickerson and Rep. Mark Cochran have amended a caption bill (SB1175/HB1354) to require campuses to develop a suicide prevention plan for faculty, staff, and students.  According to the bill, the Advisory Council of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has established the Tennessee Higher Education Suicide Prevention Task Force to unite colleges and universities throughout Tennessee toward the goal of suicide prevention.  Appointed members include delegates from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as well as public and TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State. 

The plans will need to rely on the work completed by the Task Force and prevention specialists.  Once enacted, the plans will need to be shared with the campus communities each semester.  The bill passed the House today and will be heard by the Senate next week.

 

 

GIVE Act Heads to Governor’s Desk 


      Governor Bill Lee’s top higher education bill entitled the “Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education” or GIVE Act (SB0805/HB0949) has been approved by both the House and Senate and is headed to Lee’s desk for his signature.  This is a major victory for the Governor in his first term.  

The bill will expand dual enrollment scholarship aid for students seeking additional vocational training.  It is anticipated that the Act will cost around $4 million and will be funded through the lottery proceeds. The House companion bill is scheduled to be heard in the Finance Subcommittee this next week.
 
Currently, the dual enrollment grant covers $500 for the first two courses and $200 for a third.  This aid is provided for all high school students seeking college and high school credit.  Under the GIVE Act, the dual enrollment grant will cover the first four dual enrollment courses.  The funding expansion will be given only to those students enrolling in programs that directly address annually determined workforce needs.  The eligible courses will be identified annually by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation board of directors. 

To remain eligible, students must maintain a 2.75 GPA in the postsecondary courses and may take only one course per semester.  However, students in their junior or senior years may take more than one dual enrollment course per semester if they have a 21 ACT score and have at least a 3.0 cumulative weighted GPA in high school.