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Interim Charges for House Committees
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 5/16/2014 Views: 2357  Impressions: 14350
Categories: Education, Politics

This week I will discuss the interim charges recently issued to the House Committee on Higher Education. Interim charges are the issues that the Speaker asks committees to study during the time between regular legislative sessions in order to make recommendations for legislation for the following legislative session. The charges are good indicators of what legislation the legislature will take up during the next session. Legislators rely on public input when crafting legislation, and it is important that they hear from people during the interim.

House Committee on Higher Education

* Study the potential of recent technology-enabled innovations for dramatically increasing the number and diversity of students who may access, participate and succeed in quality higher education, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Synchronous Massive Online Courses (SMOCs), blended courses that combine online and classroom instruction, and other innovations with potential to personalize the learning experience, reduce costs, and transcend the physical limitations of traditional campuses. Consider challenges and opportunities for leveraging new technologies to increase the educational attainment of traditionally underserved populations including adult learners.
* Study new strategies for funding General Academic institutions to accelerate educational innovation and increase focus on improving student learning and success rather than seat time. Consider approaches that encourage new and more productive business models that incorporate affordable, lower-cost academic delivery models and expand the state's capacity to deliver high-quality education.
* Study how state resources might be better used to support the success of the rapidly growing numbers of state residents who need postsecondary degrees. Evaluate current programs and policies related to financial aid, tuition assistance, waivers, and work study, and evaluate their relative impact and return on investment with regard to student enrollment, persistence, and completion. Consider how state dollars might be better used in combination with federal financial aid to promote and accelerate student success. Explore strategies and best practices for reducing student loan default rates in Texas.
* Former foster youth have the benefit of free tuition and fees if they enroll in higher education, yet very few take advantage of this opportunity. Consider new strategies to support these youth and make recommendations to enroll and retain more foster youth in higher education. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Human Services)
* Review current capital needs in higher education. The committees shall examine past methods of financing higher education's capital needs, as well as approaches used in other states. The committees shall jointly make recommendations to address these costs in the future. In adopting recommendations, the committees should focus on methodologies that identify priority capital projects, treat institutions of higher education equitably, and uniformly share costs between the state and institutions. The committees should also examine the viability of alternatives to traditional models for funding capital projects. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Appropriations)

The House Committee on Higher Education can be reached at 512-463-0782. For more information on these charges or any other matter of state government, please contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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