July 7, 2008

HEA Reauthorization Set for July
The final HEA reauthorization is set to be voted on sometime this month. The act has been extended one more time – through July 31 – to give those working on the reauthorization time to finalize it. The president is expected to sign it.

Education Spending Bill (FY 2009 Labor-HHS-Education)
The full Senate appropriations committee approved the FY 2009 Labor-HHS-Education bill, which includes the president’s request for the Pell Grant program – a $2.7 billion increase in funding. The House appropriations committee did not approve the bill due to a controversial Republican amendment that was offered – there is no set date for another committee meeting at this time.

Congress Plans to Rewrite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
It has been reported that Congress plans to rewrite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this summer since legislators see the need for clarification in a number of areas due to conflicting court opinions on congressional intent and interpretations of who is protected under ADA law. The greatest area of scrutiny would be the definition of a disability.

As the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) reports “in response to court cases narrowing the definition and raising the standard for qualifying as disabled, the new law would create a class of protected individuals aligned with the approach of other civil rights statutes.”

The House has recently passed the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act of 2007 (H.R. 3195) with strong bipartisan support to clarify the language of disability. The next step is for the Senate to vote on its version of the bill, S. 1881.

SEVIS Overhaul Scheduled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The Department of Homeland Security has announced its plans to overhaul the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). It is reported that SEVIS II, targeted to begin in September of 2009, will “increase the accuracy and reliability of data, improve the security of the system, and enhance the ability to share information with other federal agencies that monitor foreign visitors.”