Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

October 18, 2019

Congressional Update

House Committee Holds Hearings on Free School Meals, Plans Hearing on Apprenticeships

The House Education and Labor subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services held a hearing this week titled, “Examining the USDA’s Proposed Cuts to Free School Meals”.  The USDA posted an analysis earlier this week showing that that nearly 982,000 children would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals based on their family’s participation in the SNAP program should the proposed rule be put into place.  In its analysis, USDA said about 45 percent of the 982,000 children who could lose automatic eligibility, or 445,000, would still be eligible for free meals, and 51 percent, or 497,000, would still be eligible for reduced price meals.  In both cases, households would likely need to fill out additional paperwork. Just 4 percent of school children, or 40,000, who would lose automatic eligibility would no longer qualify for free or reduced price meals, according to the department’s analysis.  Democrats on the subcommittee were not pleased with the responses to their questions given by the hearing’s sole witness, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps about why it took the department so long to provide this information and the potential effects to students.  Testimony and an archives video of the hearing can be found here.  MSBA and NSBA is reviewing this information and is considering the appropriate response.

The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment is planning to hold a hearing on Thursday, October 24 titled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Labor Department’s Apprenticeship Program”.  Witnesses have not yet been announced. Watch the livestream here.

 House Democrats Release Bill Aimed at Updating The Higher Education Act

House Democrats released a new bill titled the “College Affordability Act” that aims to update the Higher Education Act.  Key components of the bill include increasing the size of the Pell grant, eliminating the ban on incarcerated student access to Pell grants, enacting federal-state partnerships to make community colleges free, streamlining student loan repayments, and codifying Obama-era college accountability rules.  The bill also proposes to restore the gainful-employment rule as well as the borrower-defense regulations.  The bill text and fact sheet can be found here.  We are still reviewing the bill, but the proposal appears to include a number of provisions related to HEA Title II educator recruitment, preparation, and retention that have been fought for by MSBA and NSBA.

Administration Update

 USED Announces Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award Opportunity

The Department of Education announced the opening of the nomination period for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.  The award is given to educators in the field of cybersecurity to honor their contribution to the education of our nation’s students.  It is presented annually to two educators—one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level—who demonstrate superior achievement in instilling skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects.  The nomination period closes on January 31, 2020.  Learn more about how to apply here.

Bills of Interest

  • H.R.4706To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects. Sponsor:Rep. Neguse, Joe [D-CO-2]
  • H.R.4684To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5]
  • H.R.4680To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to simplify the financial aid application process, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Doggett, Lloyd [D-TX-35]
  • H.R.4677To direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a program to recognize high schools and local educational agencies for expanding high-quality dual credit programs. Sponsor:Rep. Taylor, Van [R-TX-3]
  • H.R.4674To amend and strengthen the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college for students and families, to hold colleges accountable for students’ success, and to give a new generation of students the opportunity to graduate on-time and transition to a successful career. Sponsor:Rep. Scott, Robert C. “Bobby” [D-VA-3]
  • H.R.4673To amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to direct the Secretary to provide additional funds to States to establish and make disbursements from high cost funds. Sponsor:Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
  • H.R.4670To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish an income-based repayment for new loans on and after July 1, 2021, and for borrowers who enter income-based repayment after June 30, 2021, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Wild, Susan [D-PA-7]
  • H.R.4662To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require that institutions of higher education maintain certain adjusted cohort default rates to participate in programs under title IV of such Act, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
  • H.R.4643To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve accessibility to, and completion of, postsecondary education for students, including students with disabilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
  • H.R.4639Pell Grant Sustainability Act Sponsor:Rep. Casten, Sean [D-IL-6]
  • H.R.4637Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act Sponsor:Rep. Bonamici, Suzanne [D-OR-1]
  • S.2608A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects. Sponsor:Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]
  • H.R.2528STEM Opportunities Act of 2019 Sponsor:Rep. Johnson, Eddie Bernice [D-TX-30]

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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