2018 Regular Legislative Session
Louisiana’s 2018 Regular Legislative Session concluded at 8:53 p.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018. Several bills and resolutions affecting Higher Education were passed covering topics ranging from financial aid to campus policy, student data, funding and included study resolutions.
Although several significant bills were passed by the legislature, the most important issue – the state budget shortfall – remains unsolved. Therefore, Governor Edwards called a special session to consider revenue measures to replace a portion of the temporary taxes that expire June 30th. This revenue is necessary to address the significant budget challenge facing higher education institutions, TOPS, health care services, and virtually all other areas of state government.
Currently, higher education institutions face a $96 million reduction from the previous year. TOPS faces a shortfall of $85 million and is therefore funded at 70%. The special session will convene at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, and must adjourn by midnight on Monday, June 4, 2018.
Below you will find a statement from Dr. Joseph Rallo, senior advisor to the Board of Regents, and a high-level summary of the bills that were passed by the legislature during the 2018 Regular Session.
Statement from the Commissioner
“We are appreciative of the work of our legislature on behalf of support for higher education. We understand the competing and difficult priorities for our state. At the same time our state needs to generate new revenue to make sure the uncertainty of the past few years may be resolved. Investing in higher education is the economic engine for the state, generating revenue from our graduates going to work, paying taxes and investing in their communities. We ask for certainty in the budgeting process from our legislators. In return we will graduate more students prepared and ready to add to the economic vitality of our state. Together we can bring stability and certainty to our state which will benefit everyone.”
Dr. Joseph C. Rallo, Senior Advisor
Louisiana Board of Regents
Legislation Impacting the Board of Regents
SB46 Sen. Appel requires the Board of Regents to review the masterplan at least once every four years and revise as appropriate.
SB199 by Sen. Bishop creates the Advisory Council on Historically Black Colleges and Universities under the auspices of the Board of Regents.
SB378 by Sen. Appel allows Board of Regents staff access to high school transcript data for the purposes of providing feedback reports to public school governing authorities, evaluating comparative postsecondary performance outcomes, and developing policies to improve student academic achievement.
Legislation Impacting Higher Education
Several anti-hazing measures were passed this session following the death of a freshman fraternity pledge last fall.
· The most significant anti-hazing bill – The Max Gruver Act (HB78 by Rep. Nancy Landry) – provides harsher criminal penalties for those convicted of hazing and penalizes a representative of an organization if the person knew and failed to report that one or more of the organization’s members were hazing.
· The Governor’s anti-hazing bill – HB793 by Rep. Steve Carter – requires the Board of Regents and each postsecondary education institution to develop policies on hazing prevention. Under HB793, each new student shall be provided educational information on the dangers of and prohibition on hazing during the new student orientation process beginning in the fall of 2019.
· SB91 by Sen. Claitor allows for exemplary damages to be awarded if there is proof the death of a person was caused by the wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of the person through an act of hazing, regardless of whether the defendant was prosecuted for his acts.
· HB 270 by Rep. Foil would encourage the reporting of hazing and other incidents by exempting specified personally identifying information related to reports of violations of student codes of conduct or other policies intended for the safety of students or employees of postsecondary education institutions from the Public Records Law.
· HB446 by Rep. Falconer prohibits and creates penalties for the failure to seek medical assistance for a person who has suffered or is exposed to serious bodily injury or when reckless behavior results in serious bodily injury of any person.
· SB364 by Sen. Ward requires the postsecondary education management boards, in consultation with the Board of Regents, to develop and adopt policies on free expression. The bill expands the definition of a student organization to include a group seeking official recognition if the group is comprised of admitted students. The bill mandates that all outdoor areas of public postsecondary education institutions be deemed traditional public forums and be open to expressive activities. Each public postsecondary institution shall submit a report to the Governor and Legislature by Jan. 1, 2019, on the implementation of the provisions set forth in the bill.
· SB452 by Sen. Morrish makes numerous technical changes to the TOPS statutes, such as allowing AP Physics I and AP Physics II to count as individual classes in the TOPS Opportunity, Performance, and Honors core curriculum. The bill additionally provides that Physics may count in the TOPS-Tech core curriculum and provides that tax information may be to determine past TOPS recipient employment and residency status in Louisiana. Lastly, the bill provides authority to Board of Regents to determine whether an applicant was prevented from taking the test on or prior to April in the year of the applicant’s high school graduation due to circumstances beyond the immediate control of the student and attributable to the administration of the test, and will allow for the exemption of any penalty.
· The original version of HB602 by Rep. Miguez would have allowed individuals with a concealed carry permit to bring their firearm onto a postsecondary campus. However, the bill was heavily amended during the Senate Judiciary B Committee to remove those provisions. The final version of the bill simply clarifies the current law exception that allows individuals with a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed weapon within 1,000 feet of any school or college campus. The bill does not change the campuses’ status as a gun-free zone.
· HB895 by Rep. Norton requires each public postsecondary institution, in consultation with campus or local law enforcement agencies, to distribute information to students regarding internet and cell phone safety and online content that is a potential threat to school safety. The bill also provides for a reporting process for potential threats or incidents that occur on campus.
· HB650 by Rep. Foil creates the La. Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (START K12) Program, an education savings program similar to the START College Savings program except that it is for certain expenses associated with enrolling in grades K-12. The bill does not provide a state match or for exemption of a portion of annual deposits from state income tax as the START College Savings Program provides. However, the bill allows funds deposited prior to Jan. 1, 2018, to a START account to be disbursed in 2018 to pay tuition at an elementary or secondary school, and limits the total amount of such disbursements with respect to a beneficiary to $10,000.
Resolutions Impacting Higher Education
The legislature passed several resolutions with topics ranging from financial aid planning (SR114), reporting of students admitted by exception (SR103), installing internet filters (SR175), pilot financial aid programs (HR112 & SR113) and others (SCR12/HCR22/HR171/SR175). As the statewide coordinating and policy-making board for public postsecondary education, the Board of Regents receives a variety of study resolutions each year. The Board’s responses to legislative resolutions can be found on our website under the Data and Publications tab.