Out to Kill an Ed Rule? Date Set for Comments to Feds

DC Shuttle …

Ed Dept Requests Comment on Regulations. The U.S. Department of Education put out notice calling for public comment regarding which regulations should be targeted for elimination. The comment period will be open until Aug. 21, 2017.

Bill Addresses Income-Share Agreements. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would set new legal frameworks for income-share agreements. The bill filed by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) says the agreements are not loans but sets some similar limits. Under the bill, students would make payments only if they are employed and make an income above 150% of the federal poverty line, and payments would be capped at 15% of income.

Democrats Write Letter on Borrower Defense Delay. A group of 48 Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticizing the decision to stop implementation of the “borrower defense to repayment” package of regulations, which had been scheduled to take effect last week. Last month, the Education Department announced it was halting implementation of the rule, citing a pending legal challenge, and plans to overhaul the regulation through a new rulemaking process later this year. The letter was led by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The Democrats write in the letter that the Trump administration’s justifications for the delay are “legally questionable, inconsistent, and clearly prioritize the concerns of special interests over those of struggling students and families.”

States Threaten to Sue to End DACA. Attorneys general from 10 Republican-led states sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging the Trump administration to rescind the June 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The states threatened to sue the Trump administration over the program. The letter called on the federal government to phase out DACA gradually by ceasing to accept new enrollees or to renew existing applications, Politico reports.

Supreme Court Addresses Public Funding for Religious Institutions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer that states cannot exclude religious institutions from state programs that have a purely secular intent. The case was regarding a Missouri Church which sought public funding for its preschool playground. The court framed its decision narrowly, declining to say how far states can go to support the school-choice programs. The Supreme Court threw out lower court rulings that had stopped a Colorado school district’s voucher program and a New Mexico textbook lending program over the inclusion of religious schools. The justices instructed the state courts to reconsider those rulings in light of the Supreme Court’s decision that states can’t exclude groups from secular public grant programs only because the groups have a religious affiliation. The Washington Post has more.

NH Bill Allows Public Funds for Private Schools. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law a bill that allows small towns to send students to local private institutions when no public option is available, using taxpayer dollars. The law excludes religious schools. The law is known as the Croydon bill, after Croydon, N.H., which has no schools within its borders and had engaged in a legal battle with the state over whether it can send some students to a local Montessori school, rather than a public school. New Hampshire Public Radio has more.

MA AG Threatens to Sue Large PA-Based Loan Servicer. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey threatened to sue one of the country’s biggest student loan servicers, Pennsylvania’s quasi-public student loan agency, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, the Morning Call reports.

Assessment of ESSA Plans. The nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners released reviews from over 30 bipartisan education policy experts of 17 state plans that have been submitted to federal officials under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of July 3, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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