During the opening week of the 2013 Louisiana legislative session, certain bills are higher on the University’s radar.
University leaders are especially keeping an eye on bills like Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax reform plan, House Bill 194 that would allow public university management boards to increase tuition and mandatory fees, and bills regarding teachers’ tenure.
Jason Droddy, director of External Affairs, said students should pay attention to the bills because they could directly affect the cost and quality of their education.
Other bills address cost issues, such as House Bill 87, a constitutional amendment that would permit universities to decide how much to charge students, Droddy said.
He said students should also look at bills regarding University building renovations, including the French House and south campus Louisiana Business and Technology Center Business Incubator.
Droddy said about 30 student-owned businesses are in the incubator, therefore renovations could affect what students want to do with their careers.
House Bill 194 would change the way students are charged for higher education. Droddy said students typically take 14 to 15 credit hours, but under the bill, students would be charged for credit hours exceeding 12. The bill would also allow for different tuition for certain colleges within the University, Droddy said. For example, students in the College of Engineering or School of Music might have to pay more than those in the College of Human Sciences and Education.
Jindal’s tax reform has been the subject of many discussions and speculation.
Belinda Davis, associate professor of political science, said Jindal will face harder questions in the legislature.
The governor’s news releases said the reform will eliminate about $2.7 billion in personal income tax, corporate income tax and franchise tax that will be offset with a 47 percent increase in state sales tax and an increase in tobacco product taxes to $1.41 per pack.
Director of the Public Administration Institute James A. Richardson said the increase in state sales tax also includes items such as haircuts that are not currently taxed.
Droddy said the University is not specifically monitoring the tax reform plan since it does not pay taxes.
Bills regarding tenure would only affect grades K-12, so the University Laboratory School is monitoring them appropriately, Droddy said.
The Lab School is also tracking bills regarding child safety and teacher evaluation.