Capitol Views: Bill would empower Regents; sex education requirement defeated

Capitol Views: Bill would empower Regents; sex education requirement defeated




The House will debate another plan to change the governance of higher education, with committee approval of a proposed constitutional amendment to strengthen the budgeting power of the Board of Regents. It comes as a recommendation from a higher education governance commission formed last year by the Legislature.



Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, explained that though Regents develops a funding formula for colleges, the various management boards have the power under the constitution to disburse funds. At times, they have departed from the formula to move money around their campuses, a situation that Carmody called "chaotic." House Bill 396 was amended to allow the boards to depart from the funding formula by 5%.



LSU System President John Lombardi and University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett argued that the bill tries to fix a problem that does not exist. Instead, Lombardi said, "This clearly heightens the power and authority of Regents.”



LSU System President John Lombardi and University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett argued that the bill tries to fix a problem that does not exist. Instead, Lombardi said, "This clearly heightens the power and authority of Regents.”



Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, favored having the issue debated by the full House, though he was not sure it was the solution.




"This is the most frustrating issue I've had to deal with in five years," he said, comparing the campuses to children constantly fighting.



The bill faces higher hurdles in winning two-thirds majorities before it would go to the people.



—By an 8-8 vote, the House Education Committee decided not to require sex education courses in public schools. Current law authorizes sex education, but implementing it as a course of study is left to individual school districts. Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, argued that sex education in the classroom would help break the cycle of poverty caused by low-income students becoming pregnant because of lack of understanding of health risks and contraception. A series of parents testified against the bill.



Most Republicans voted against the bill, except the chairman Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge. But for several members absent, the vote could have gone either way. Smith said she would bring her bill back for another hearing.



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