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Federal Legislative Report 116-03

Delivered via email: May 30, 2019

VOUCHER PROVISIONS REMOVED FROM HOUSE PASSED BILL

Last week, the House passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act (H.R. 1994) that was initially reported out of the Ways and Means Committee last month with provisions to expand 529 education plans for homeschooling and for private school “expenses in addition to tuition.” Because of advocacy in opposition to those provisions, they were removed before the legislation was cleared for floor consideration by the House Rules Committee.

The SECURE Act would expand 529 plans, however, to allow distributions from 529 plans for student loan repayments, namely a “qualified higher education expense” up to $10,000 annually.

H.R. 1994 is now headed to the Senate.

HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES DACA BILL

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee convened for more than eight hours to consider three immigration bills, including the Dream Act of 2019 (H.R. 2820) sponsored by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), which was approved by a vote of 19-10.   The Dream Act would apply to participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was suspended in 2017 and then resumed under a court order to continue to process applications of eligible individuals until the courts reach a conclusion in the matter.

The Dream Act would establish a “special procedure for applicants with DACA,” and states that the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security “shall establish a streamlined procedure for aliens who have been granted DACA and who meet the requirements for renewal (under the terms of the program in effect on January 1, 2017) to apply for cancellation of removal and adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis …”

FISCAL YEAR 2020 (FY20) APPROPRIATIONS

In mid-May, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed out its version of the FY20 budgets for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Line items for Education include:

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - over $1 billion increase

Title I grants - $1 billion increase

Title II funding for effective instruction/professional development - $500 million increase, which school districts can use for class size reduction, teacher training, and other functions such as recruitment and retention. Click here and scroll to page 6 and 7 for a complete list of eligible expenditures.

Perkins Career and Technical Education - $37.4 million increase

Social-Emotional Learning – a new initiative with a recommended funding level of $260 million to fund projects and activities across a variety of programs within the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

The bill has not been scheduled for floor consideration in the House yet. There is also uncertainty in the Senate about when their Appropriations Committee will begin considering funding bills due to the absence of consensus about budgetary caps among the House, Senate, and the White House.

GRANTS FOR SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

The USDE, last week, published the following notice from its Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services:

“Application for New Awards: Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel” – This program focuses on addressing state-identified needs for personnel preparation in special education, early intervention, and regular education to work with children with disabilities. Further, this program ensures that personnel are well equipped to be successful in serving these children by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge through practices that are based on scientifically based research and experience. The estimated available funds for this program are $4,250,000 and are contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due July 8, 2019. Further information is available here.

SCHOOL SAFETY GRANTS

A few weeks ago, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies reported its FY20 funding bill that would increase resources for school safety. The bill would provide $125 million for competitive grants authorized by the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, which represents a $25 million increase above the FY19 funding allocation.

The STOP School Violence Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance that provides grants to states and units of local government to address several areas including:

  • Training school personnel and educating students on preventing student violence against others and themselves;
  • Developing and operating anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and internet websites;
  • Developing and operating school threat assessment and intervention teams that may include coordination with law enforcement agencies and school personnel; and,
  • Developing specialized training for school officials in responding to mental health crises.

This measure moves to the full Committee. It is uncertain when the full Committee will consider it.

EDUCATION BILLS PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE

The House Education and Labor Committee approved two bills dealing with civil rights issues last week just prior to the 65 th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The two bills are the Strength in Diversity Act of 2019 (H.R. 2639), which would extend incentives to voluntary community efforts to integrate schools; and the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (H.R. 2574), which would restore a private right of action to file disparate impact claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The measure would also create a Title VI monitor at the USDE responsible for investigating complaints of racial discrimination.

NET NEUTRALITY LEGISLATION

The House, back in April, passed the Save the Net Act (H.R. 1644) on a vote of 232-190. All Democrats and 1 Republican supported the bill’s passage. The legislation would prohibit blocking and throttling (slowing) web traffic to schools and other consumers and would categorize broadband as a service open to greater regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. Because of the partisan nature of this issue, it is unlikely it will be considered in the Senate this Congress, and the President has been advised to veto it if it were to reach his desk.


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