By Ted Blanchard
One of the challenges currently facing California is reformulating our Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education Act. The former act expired on 6/30/07 when Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have extended the sunset provisions of that act. Since that time the private postsecondary education industry in CA has had little meaningful oversight.
There are two competing legislative measures currently making their way through the legislative maze here. They appear to be headed for an old time Texas shootout.
The first, SB 823, authored by the lame duck President Pro Tem of the Senate, Senator Don Perata, is sponsored and supported by the self-appointed student protection groups and is vehemently opposed by the schools. It, in large part, perpetuates the convoluted, heavy-handed, and extreme provisions of the former act.
SB 823 has managed to pass through the Senate and through the Higher Education committee in the Assembly. It received only one Republican AYE vote in one of the senate committees and that senator voted NO when the bill was on the Senate Floor. At each committee hearing the bill was sold as "a work in progress" with each iteration becoming more and more objectionable to the schools. It is now being held in the Assembly Appropriations committee awaiting, I've been told, yet another major set of amendments.
The second, AB 2746 (Niello) is the Administration's proposal. AB 2746 has the support of the schools and, so far, has only encountered mild opposition from student protection groups and one labor union that represents employees who lost their jobs when the former Bureau expired. Interestingly, the Democrat members of the Assembly Higher Education committee voted unanimously for both of the bills (so much for consistency). I suspect that the mild opposition is not because they don't oppose this bill but rather they are relying on the Senate to kill this bill.
The Senate Pro Tem, through his staff, has vowed to kill the Niello bill and the Governor is poised to veto the Pro Tem's bill. The final outcome is anyone's guess.
Mr. Niello's bill (AB 2746) passed the Assembly Business and Professions committee today (04/16/08) and next it will go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee - the same committee that is holding SB 823.