SB 529 was approved and is on its way to the governor’s desk. This bill will modify Oklahoma’s Promise, the state-sponsored tuition program in an effort to make necessary changes to the program to protect the integrity and stability of the program.
The program allows eighth, ninth, or tenth grade students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn a college tuition scholarship. It changes the definition of income at the time of application in the eighth through 10th grade from “taxable and nontaxable” income to “federal adjusted gross income” and increases the family income limit from $50,000 to $55,000.
The bill will stop payment for remedial courses beginning in 2018-19 at an estimated savings of approximately $1.5 million.
The measure also requires the State Regents to establish a maximum limit on the number of college credit hours covered by the scholarship.
Currently, students are eligible to receive the scholarship for up to five years or at the completion of a baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first. This will limit the number of credit hours paid for during the five year period.
Most undergraduate degrees require 120-124 semester credit hours but about 20 percent of degrees require more than 124 hours. Through the Administrative Procedures Act, the State Regents will establish a general maximum limit on credit hours while allowing exceptions to that limit for degrees requiring credit hours in excess of the limit.
The limit is expected to be applicable to first-time entering freshmen college students in the fall of 2018. Fully implemented, the change is expected to save about one to two percent of total program costs annually.
SB 217 will be a law effective November 1. This bill will improve the state’s sex offender registry by streamlining the notification process of the current law to include local law enforcement, the courts, the Department of Corrections and, in some cases, the Department of Human Services.
The DHS notification requirement was a request of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. Currently, registered sex offenders are allowed to live with their own children, stepchildren or grandchildren, but under the new law, when they return to that home, DHS will be notified.
Oklahoma has received a grant to pursue the Launch Oklahoma goal put forth by Governor Fallin in December. The goal is to increase by 70 percent the number of Oklahomans, age 25-64, who complete a postsecondary degree, certificate or credential by the year 2025. Currently on 40 percent of the state’s population have that level of education or training.
The grant from the Lumina Foundation will provide $100,000 towards enacting evidence-based policies aimed at decreasing attainment6 inequities among African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic populations. It will also provide assistance for targeted promotion of education, training and certificate programs for high-demand occupations among older Oklahomans, as well as lower-income and underserved populations.
The plan is due to the governor by November 1.
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Rep. Will Fourkiller (D- District 86) represents the 86th district in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 405-557-7394.