What Did I Miss in Washington? November 19-December 2, 2019
The steady stream of news emerging from the nation’s capital can be overwhelming. NACUBO highlights key actions and provides the status of top higher education business concerns.
On the Hill
Lawmakers Seek to Protect Grad Student Unionization Rights Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) has introduced legislation that would block the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s proposal to prevent graduate and undergraduate student workers at private colleges and universities from unionizing. The bill would strengthen labor protections for graduate student workers and ensure their right to unionize.
Senate Democrats Unveil Framework for Data Privacy Bill Senate Democrats have shared a framework of guiding principles that they argue should be incorporated into all attempts to draft comprehensive data protection legislation. The principles include making data holders accountable, strengthening consumers’ rights to control their data, and minimizing total amounts of data collected, among other items.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Closer to Law The House of Representatives passed a seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. Shortly after, the Senate Banking Committee marked up and approved an almost identical bill, which NACUBO had urged committee lawmakers to pass. The legislation now must pass a full Senate vote.
House Democrats Publish Green Energy Discussion Draft Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee recently released a discussion draft and section-by-section summary of the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now(GREEN) act. Discussion drafts are bills that aren’t introduced in Congress but are circulated to solicit feedback for future legislation. The draft proposes extending the currently expired 179D energy efficiency commercial building deduction until 2024. It would not grant the benefit to nonprofits, an expansion for which NACUBO has advocated.
Senate Bill to Close 90-10 Loophole Introduced A bipartisan bill in the Senate intends to aid student veterans by taking aim at the “90-10 loophole,” by which some proprietary institutions receive more than 90 percent of their funding from the federal government. Presently, funds from the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs do not count toward the 90-percent limit. The new law, which has broad support from Senate Republicans, would count those funds alongside other federal funds and would impose additional requirements on proprietary institutions.
ED Finalizes Priorities for OZ Grants The Department of Education has finalized its priorities for discretionary grant programs for projects located in Opportunity Zones. Additional resources, including a map of designated Opportunity Zones, are available at the Department of Housing and Urban Development Opportunity Zone website.
ED and Defense Team Up for Servicemembers The Departments of Education (ED) and Defense (DOD) have announced a new information-sharing program to assist active-duty servicemembers who are also federal student loan borrowers. ED will share Title IV borrower information with DOD for it to identify borrowers who are also active servicemembers. The DOD system will then alert ED any time one of these individuals is receiving imminent danger or hostile fire pay, triggering ED to proactively ensure that no interest will accrue on their Title IV loans for the duration of their hazard pay assignment. ED will notify the borrower that this benefit has automatically been applied to their loans, eliminating the need for borrowers to submit additional documentation to earn eligibility for the benefit.
ED Streamlines Disabled Vet Loan Forgiveness The Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have implemented the necessary data-sharing to eliminate the need for veterans to complete a separate application for Title IV loan forgiveness in cases where the VA has determined them to have a total and permanent disability. ED will now automatically apply the benefit to eligible borrowers and notify them of the discharge. While the rule is still only an interim final regulation, ED has moved to implement it immediately.
Court Rules Tuition Payments May Be “Clawed Back” in Bankruptcy A court of appeals has ruled that tuition payments made by parents in bankruptcy can be recovered by bankruptcy trustees because it found parents receive no “reasonably equivalent value” for the payments.
How Will HEA Affect Your Campus? Several proposals in the House Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, the College Affordability Act, would impact students, federal financial aid, and business functions. Stay informed by reading one-pagers on the issues that are most pertinent to the business office. Additionally, NACUBO is producing a video to accompany each of the four one-pagers. The first video is available below. Look for the others in upcoming editions of What Did I Miss in Washington?