During the 2013 Legislative Session—which ended at midnight on April 8—the Maryland General Assembly considered over 2,600 bills, many of which affect the State’s nonprofit college and universities, both public and private. MICUA tracked 190 bills that impact higher education, auxiliary operations, nonprofit organizations, and private employers. This is a brief summary of the most substantive bills impacting MICUA member institutions.
The General Assembly passed legislation enacting the State’s fiscal 2014 operating and capital budgets. State general fund spending will increase by 3% in fiscal 2014 over the prior-year appropriation. In addition to maintaining a 5% balance in the Rainy Day Fund, the budget includes a projected general fund balance of $291 million to safeguard against the negative implications of the federal sequestration. The fiscal 2014 capital budget includes almost $1.1 billion in general obligation bonds.
The State’s fiscal 2014 budget for higher education provides for the largest increase in six years, growing by more than $120 million—an increase of more than 7% over the prior-year appropriation. The Sellinger Program is funded at $41.3 million and distributed according to the formula. This is an increase of $3.2 million, or 8.5% over last year’s appropriation.
- Need-based Student Aid
The budget introduced by the Governor in January increased funding for the Education Excellence Award (EEA) Program (the State’s largest need-based financial aid program) by $2.6 million. In March, the Governor introduced a supplemental budget, which included an additional $2 million for the EEA Program. In addition, the General Assembly cut $3 million from the budget of the University System of Maryland and adopted budget bill language allowing the Governor to transfer these funds to the EEA Program. Based on these actions, the EEA Grant Program could increase by $7.6 million in fiscal 2014, an increase of almost 10%.
- Supplemental Appropriation to Study Frederick Regional Higher Education
The Governor provided $120,000 in a supplemental budget to study the higher education needs of the Frederick region. The General Assembly adopted budget bill language requiring the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to use a portion of the funds to conduct a study of the higher education needs in Northeast Maryland. In addition, the language requires MHEC to submit the final reports on higher education needs in Frederick and Northeast Maryland to the budget committees as well as the Frederick County Delegation, the Hartford County Delegation, and the Cecil County Delegation.
The State’s capital budget includes $10.5 million for the three MICUA projects: $4 million for Johns Hopkins University, $4 million for the Maryland Institute College of Art, and $2.5 million for Hood College. In addition, the budget bill includes language allowing Mount St. Mary’s University to use its fiscal 2012 appropriation of $1.5 million to plan, design, engineer, construct, renovate, and capital equip a wastewater treatment plant.
The following bills were passed by the Maryland General Assembly. These bills will be presented to the Governor for his signature by April 28. The Governor has until May 28 to sign the bills into law or veto the legislation.
- HB 228 - Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 (Passed)
This Administration bill modifies State law to implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill expands Medicaid eligibility, establishes a dedicated funding stream for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, establishes a State Reinsurance Program, establishes continuity-of-care requirements, and makes clarifying and administrative changes.
In March, the federal Department of Health and Human Services issued rules clarifying that the student health insurance coverage is not subject to the single-risk pool requirement under the Affordable Care Act. This ruling provides clear guidance to states seeking to implement health benefits exchanges. Based on that ruling, states may carve student health insurance out of the exchange. About that same time, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) issued an opinion that student health insurance should be carved out of state health benefit exchanges, primarily due to the cost implications.
Therefore, MICUA supported an amendment to HB 228 to carve student health insurance out of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The amendment was adopted. As a result, student health insurance coverage is not subject to the single-risk pool requirement under the Affordable Care Act.
- HB 526 – Higher Education - Maryland First Scholarship - Creation and Funding (Passed)
House Bill 526 creates the Maryland First Scholarship for first-generation Maryland residents who can demonstrate financial need, have achieved at least a 3.0 grade point average at the end of the first semester of the senior year of high school, and are accepted for admission or enrolled in a public or private nonprofit institution of higher education in Maryland. Students enrolled at a four-year private nonprofit institution may receive up to 50% of the average tuition and mandatory fees of a resident undergraduate student enrolled at a University System of Maryland institution, with the exception of University of Maryland University College and University of Maryland, Baltimore.
The program is to be funded by grants and gifts and State appropriations. There are no funds appropriated in the State’s fiscal 2014 budget for this program.
- HB 527 - Frederick Regional Higher Education Advisory Board (Passed)
House Bill 527 establishes the Frederick Regional Higher Education Advisory Board to support the development of higher education in the Frederick region and assist in establishing a Frederick Regional Higher Education Center. The Board will assist in setting the missions and accomplishing the goals and objectives of the sites in Frederick County, provide guidance and support in identifying institutions and programs to serve higher education and workforce needs in Frederick County, and assist with marketing and promoting programs offered at the Center and other sites.
Membership on the Advisory Board is comprised of one representative from each four-year institution that offers an MHEC-approved academic program at the Center; five members of the Executive Committee of the Frederick County Business Roundtable for Education representing Frederick Community College, Frederick County Public Schools, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, Frederick County Office of Economic Development, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research; and other business and community leaders.
The legislation was amended at MICUA’s request to add the Presidents of Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University as voting members of the Advisory Board.
- HB 1098 - Procurement – Prevailing Wage – Applicability (Passed)
As introduced, House Bill 1098 required most capital projects supported with State funds to comply with the State’s prevailing wage laws. MICUA opposed the legislation as introduced. As passed, the legislation creates a Task Force to examine Maryland’s current Prevailing Wage Law and how it applies to school construction projects, including an analysis of school construction contracts bid as prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage contracts to determine the effect the prevailing wage requirements may have on contract costs. The Task Force will also analyze and examine prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage construction projects through the duration of projects to determine if project quality varies by contract type. In addition, the bill calls for a study on how local prevailing wage laws compare to the Maryland Prevailing Wage Law and related issues. The Task Force may review any other matters that relate to the scope and application of the Maryland Prevailing Wage Law.
- HB 1342 / SB 945 – Higher Education – Maryland Longitudinal Data System – Governing Board and Data Transfers (Both Passed)
House Bill 1342 and Senate Bill 945 add the President of the Maryland Independent College and University Association, or the President's designee, to the governing board of the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center. This bill also specifies that Maryland private, nonprofit institutions of higher education which receive State funds shall submit enrollment data, degree data, financial aid data, and credit data for all students enrolled at the institution to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS). Additionally, this bill establishes that a private institution of higher education or postsecondary education that transfers student-level data to the MLDS in accordance with the approved plan is not liable for a breach of confidentiality, or for a disclosure, use, retention, or destruction of the data as a result of the actions of the MLDS, a State agency, or person granted access to the data by the MLDS or a State agency.
MICUA requested this legislation to codify its agreement with the Maryland Higher Education Commission on data submission, obtain representation on the MLDS governing board, and provide immunity for MICUA member institutions in the event of a data breach.
- SB 510 - Institutions of Higher Education – Fully Online Distance Education Programs – Regulation (Passed)
This legislation alters the type of institution that is required to register with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) before enrolling Maryland students in fully online distance education programs. An institution that is not accredited by an accrediting body recognized and approved by the United States Department of Education may not receive a registration from MHEC. The bill clarifies which postsecondary institutions may operate without a certificate of approval from MHEC. Institutions of higher education subject to MHEC’s academic program review process are not required to register. Therefore, MICUA member institutions are not required to register under the Act. The bill also allows MHEC to actively seek out those institutions that have Maryland students, but have not registered.
MICUA worked with the sponsor of the legislation to establish an exemption from Maryland’s registration requirement for colleges and universities that enroll Maryland students in fully online distance education programs if the institution participates in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus. As a result of this provision, the State of Maryland may participate in the SREB Electronic Campus, and Maryland can join the SREB reciprocity program. This provision will assist Maryland’s nonprofit colleges and universities in meeting federal State Authorization requirements for distance education programs.
- SB 740 - College Readiness and Completion Act of 2013 (Passed)
Senate Bill 740 requires the Maryland State Board of Education to establish mathematics course requirements for high school students and requires students to enroll in a college preparation curriculum, unless a parent enrolls the student in a non-college preparation curriculum. The bill requires the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to make an assessment of all students in the 11th grade beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. MSDE, in collaboration with public community colleges, must develop transition courses for students who have not achieved college readiness by the end of the 11th grade.
The bill requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to develop statewide transfer agreements and statewide reverse transfer agreements for all public institutions of higher education. In addition, MHEC must create a statewide communication campaign to identify near completers and encourage them to re-enroll in an institution of higher education to complete a degree. The bill also requires Maryland’s public four-year institutions to dedicate a portion of institutional financial aid for undergraduates who transfer with an associate’s degree from a Maryland community college.
Finally, the bill establishes the Early College Access Grant for financially needy students who are dually enrolled in high school and an institution of higher education. Funds must be allocated by MHEC to an institution of higher education based on the number of dually enrolled students receiving credit for courses completed at the institution. Additionally, the legislation requires local school systems to make certain payments to public institutions of higher education for serving dually enrolled students.
The following bills failed to receive a favorable vote from both houses of the Maryland General Assembly.
- HB 508 - Environment - Local Stormwater Management Charges - State Property (Failed)
As introduced, House Bill 508 repealed the exemption applicable to property owned by the State from a storm water remediation fee established by a local government pursuant to the requirements of State legislation adopted in 2012. Late amendments to the legislation would have postponed the effective date of all storm water utility fees for two years and would have required local jurisdictions to notify the State on the amount of the fees prior to July 1, 2014. The bill failed.
- HB 553 - Higher Education - Program Proposals - Review and Objections (Failed)
House Bill 553 altered the time periods for the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to review and approve higher education academic program proposals. Specifically, the bill changed the time periods for review, comment, and approval from “calendar days” to “business days.” MICUA opposed the legislation, because it would delay the program approval process. The legislation failed.
- HB 557 / SB 607 - Institutions of Higher Education - Student Notification - Financial Information (Both Failed)
This legislation would have required institutions of higher education in the State to submit information on the cost of higher education at the institution to all first-time, full-time freshman by including the federal Financial Aid Shopping Sheet with the student’s award notification of federal financial aid. An amendment, adopted by the sponsors, removed private nonprofit institutions from complying with the bill’s provisions. Additional amendments delayed the implementation by one year and allowed the information to be transmitted to students electronically. Both bills failed.
- HB 1332 / SB 838 - Educational Institutions – Personal Electronic Account – Privacy Protections (Both Failed)
These bills prohibited an educational institution from requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing a student or a prospective student to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the individual’s personal electronic account. In addition, an educational institution would have been prohibited from compelling a student or an applicant, as a condition of acceptance or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities, to: (1) Add anyone including specified individuals to the list of contacts associated with a personal electronic account; or (2) Change the privacy settings associated with a personal electronic account. The bill also would have prohibited an educational institution from disciplining or otherwise penalizing a student or applicant because of his or her refusal to comply with certain actions. The legislation authorized an individual who is the subject of a violation to bring a civil action and to recover up to $1,000 in damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. Both bills failed.
- SB 341 - Higher Education - Academic Program Action - Repeal of Application Fees (Failed)
Senate Bill 341 would have repealed the authority of the Maryland Higher Education Commission to impose application fees for the approval of academic program actions proposed by institutions of higher education. MICUA supported this legislation. It passed the Senate, but failed in the House of Delegates.