HBA-DMD, MAJ H.B. 454 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 454 By: Gutierrez Higher Education 2/19/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE There are a large number of illiterate persons in Texas, but there is a shortage of volunteer tutors willing to assist in literacy programs. H.B. 454 establishes the Texas Literacy Pilot Program which provides volunteer tutors to persons who are learning to read. The bill also provides financial assistance in the form of an exemption from tuition and fees for volunteer tutors who are attending college or vocational schools. Additionally, the bill establishes an eligibility requirement that in order for the student to be eligible to receive the tuition and fee exemption the student must be qualified to provide the tutoring and meet the entrance and academic progress requirements of the institution granting the exemption. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in SECTION 1 (Section 56.260, Education Code) of this bill. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 56, Education Code, by adding Subchapter M, as follows: SUBCHAPTER M. TEXAS LITERACY PILOT PROGRAM Sec. 56.251. DEFINITIONS. Defines "eligible institution" and "eligible literacy program." Sec. 56.252. PROGRAM NAME; PURPOSE. Requires that the student financial assistance program operated under this subchapter be known as the Texas Literacy Pilot Program (program). Provides that the purpose of this subchapter is to increase the number of literate citizens in this state by offering an exemption from tuition and fees for college and vocational students working as volunteer tutors in eligible literacy programs. Sec. 56.253. COORDINATING BOARD AUTHORITY. Requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (board) to administer the program and to work with eligible literacy programs and eligible institutions to provide eligible students with tuition and fee exemptions under this subchapter. Sec. 56.254. ELIGIBLE LITERACY PROGRAM. Provides that to participate in the pilot program an eligible literacy program must apply to the board with a form developed and distributed by the board, keep an accurate record of the hours worked by participating student tutors, notify the board that a student is eligible to receive a tuition and fee exemption upon completion of any tutoring requirements, provide a certificate of eligibility to a student who completes any tutoring requirements, and provide an annual report evaluating the impact of the pilot program to the board. Sec. 56.255. ELIGIBLE STUDENT. Provides that to participate in the pilot program a student must be evaluated by an eligible literacy program and determined to be qualified to tutor teenagers or adults and meet the entrance and academic progress requirements of the eligible institution where the exemption is used. Requires that preference for the pilot program be given to a student enrolled in an eligible institution who provides documentation from the institution that the student has demonstrated financial need. Sec. 56.256. SELECTION OF LITERACY PROGRAMS TO PARTICIPATE. Requires that in the selection process of an eligible literacy program to participate in the pilot program the board shall consider the literacy program's statistics regarding the literacy challenges in the community where the program will provide services, the literacy program's current and preceding year's efforts to provide literacy training to the community where services will be provided, and the plans of the literacy program to advertise the tuition and fee exemptions and to attract tutors for the pilot program. Sec. 56.257. EXEMPTIONS. Entitles a student enrolled in a public junior college or public technical institute who completes 50 hours of tutoring to a $500 exemption from tuition and fees. Entitles a student enrolled in a general academic teaching institution who completes 100 hours of tutoring to a $1,000 exemption from tuition and fees. Provides that the maximum cumulative amount of exemptions a student may receive is $1,000. Prohibits a student from receiving an exemption if the student fails to complete the required 50 or 100 hours of tutoring. Sec. 56.258. GRANTING OF EXEMPTIONS. Requires the eligible literacy program to provide a student with a certificate indicating the number of hours of tutoring completed when a student becomes eligible for a tuition and fee exemption and to report to the board the name of the student and number of hours of tutoring completed. Specifies that the student provide the certificate to the eligible institution where the student is enrolled to receive an exemption from tuition and fees and requires the institution to exempt the student from the amount of tuition and fees for which the student is eligible. Requires an eligible institution to report to the board at least once a year the name of each student who received a tuition and fee exemption and the amount of each student's tuition and fee exemption. Requires the board, upon receipt of the report, to verify that the student has completed any requirements necessary for award of an exemption and to reimburse the eligible institution for the amount of the tuition and fee exemptions reported. Sec. 56.259. FUNDING. Authorizes the board to accept gifts and grants from a public or private source for the pilot program. Authorizes that gifts, grants, and funds appropriated by the legislature for this purpose be used for the pilot program. Sec. 56.260. RULES. Requires the board to adopt rules to implement and administer the pilot program. SECTION 2. Effective date: September 1, 1999. Prohibits a student from receiving a tuition and fee exemption under this Act before the spring semester of 2000. SECTION 3. Emergency clause.