University, community college bills survive crossover deadline

RALEIGH – Thursday was the deadline for bills to clear either the state House or the state Senate for them to have a chance of passage during the 2007-09 legislative session. With the deadline comes the passage of several bills that affect the University of North Carolina system and the North Carolina Community College System.

Among the many bills passed during the first few months of the session, some pertain to UNC President Erskine Bowles’ effort to make the university system more efficient. Others would amend performance measures within the community college system and make other changes to the two higher education systems.

Bills that included special fees or study bills, such as a bill (H1269)to repeal the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics tuition waiver, did not have to clear crossover to still be heard in the session. A move during committee meetings by Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, and Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake, to add a study to the bill meant the bill did not have to meet the crossover deadline.

Here is a look at some of the bills that cleared either the House or Senate prior to crossover deadline:

H583 – Modify Community College Lateral Entry Process. The bill changes the community college lateral entry program for new teachers, which provides for teacher certification for people coming from other fields, to eliminate the requirement that a person must have worked in their field for five years before entering the program.

H642 – Amend Community College Performance Standards. This bill reduces the number of performance measures for community colleges from 12 to eight. Gone are measures such as employment status of graduates, employer satisfaction with graduates, proportion of those who complete their goal, and program enrollment.

H749 – UNC President’s Advisory Committee Recommendations. The bill puts into legislation many of the President Advisory Committee on Efficiency recommendations that Bowles’s task force recommended last year. It increases the limit for small construction bids to $500,000 up from $300,000 and eliminates some reports to the Office of State Budget and Management, among other changes.

H893 – Board of Governors Student Member May Vote. This is an annual bill introduced by legislators in an effort to give the student member of the UNC Board of Governors the right to vote. Currently, the president of the UNC Association of Student Governments serves in an ex officio role.

H915 – Offer Sign Language in Schools and College. It would require community colleges and universities to offer sign language to students. Those who take the course would receive foreign language credit.

H1016 – Revise 529 Plan Deductions. The bill changes the deduction families can use for payments to a 529 tuition savings plan with the State Education Assistance Authority. The deduction would be $2,500 for a single person and $5,000 for a married couple.

S630 – North Carolina Arboretum Campus Police. This bill would require the Board of Governors to establish a campus police force at the North Carolina Arboretum.

S862 – UNC Smoke Free. It bans smoking on the grounds and facilities of UNC-owned buildings.

S1065 – Community College Tuition Surcharge/Scholarships. This bill would allow community colleges to implement a 33.3 percent surcharge on tuition to create programs to attract new businesses. Only students in the new programs would be charged the fee. Proceeds from endowed scholarships, in excess of $5 million, would be used to offset the cost of the tuition charge.