BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Carol Liu, Chair 2013-2014 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 2736 AUTHOR: Assembly Higher Education Committee AMENDED: June 9, 2014 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: June 18, 2014 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:Kathleen Chavira SUBJECT : Postsecondary Education. SUMMARY This bill authorizes the California State University Trustees to fix a voluntary fee, as defined, for voluntary membership in the statewide student organization, and makes several corrections and changes to various provisions of the Education Code affecting the California State University. BACKGROUND Current law authorizes a student body organization to be established at any state university under the supervision of the university officials and outlines the activities which may be undertaken by the organization. Current law also authorizes the CSU trustees to fix fees for voluntary membership in the student organization. Current law requires the trustees to fix a membership fee to be required of all students attending the university, if a student body organization is established upon the favorable vote of two-thirds of the students voting. Once approved, the trustees may approve an increase or decrease in the fee only if such has been approved by a majority of students voting and provides that these fees be a prerequisite to enrollment at the university, as specified. Current law prohibits this fee from being charged to students registering solely in extension classes. Current law authorizes the expenditure of these fees to provide for the support of governmental affairs AB 2736 Page 2 representatives who may be attending upon the State Legislature or the offices and agencies of the executive branch of state government. (Education Code § 89300) Current law establishes the CSU Board of Trustees and specifies its composition. Current law provides for two student representatives on the Board and requires that the Governor appoint the students from a list of names provided by the governing board of any statewide student organization that represents the students of the CSU and the student body organizations of the campuses of the CSU. (Education Code § 66602) ANALYSIS This bill : 1) Authorizes the CSU trustees to fix fees for voluntary membership in the statewide student organization. 2) Defines that the fee for membership in a student organization is voluntary if a student has the ability to affirmatively elect to pay the fee, or to decline the payment of the fee each time the fee is assessed. 3) Makes several non-controversial changes and corrections to existing Education Code provisions. It: a) Changes the date by which an ongoing Legislative Analyst's Office report on the California State University (CSU) Early Start Program must be delivered from January 1 to July 1, beginning in 2016, and extends the sunset date of these provisions from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. b) Deletes irrelevant reporting requirements relative to the CSU authority to offer the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) and sunsets the reporting requirement in January 1, AB 2736 Page 3 2021. c) Changes the due date of a statutorily required report disclosing the acceptance of any gift of personal property by the CSU Trustees from January 5 to January 31, annually. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Technical changes . This bill makes several technical changes to provisions of the Education Code affecting the CSU. The bill makes the following three changes: Section 1 . To address concerns regarding the large number of incoming freshmen at the CSU requiring remediation, Executive Order 1048 was issued in 2010, creating the Early Start Program. Entering freshmen not proficient in math or "at risk" in English are required to start the remediation process before their first term at CSU. Students are given a menu of options to determine the best approach to start their remedial instruction, including senior year high school courses, courses offered in the summer at any one of their local California Community College (CCC) or CSU campuses and online courses. Legislation enacted in 2012 (AB 2497, Solorio), required the CSU to work with the LAO on an ongoing series of reports showing the impact of CSU's Early Start Program on students needing remediation. Currently, the law requires a report be submitted on January 1, 2014, and then subsequently every two years after that. According to the CSU, requiring the report in January does not allow sufficient time to ensure that data for the current year is reviewed and prepared for transmission to the LAO. This bill moves the reporting deadline, to July 1, beginning in 2016, to ensure LAO can base its report on the most recent program data. The bill also makes conforming changes to related sunset provisions. Section 2 . CSU was granted the authority to establish AB 2736 Page 4 a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree pilot program at three campuses in 2010 (AB 867, Nava, Chapter 416). The CSU is also required, in collaboration with LAO and the Department Of Finance, to conduct a statewide evaluation of these pilot programs by January 1, 2017. Compromise on the bill came together in the final hours of session and the evaluation requirements were taken from prior legislation authorizing and requiring the evaluation of the newly granted CSU authority to offer an EdD degree. As a result, some of the language in the DNP report is unrelated to the pilot program. This bill deletes language that requires reporting on public school and community college program partners, and sunsets the reporting requirement provisions on January 1, 2021. Section 3 . Current law authorizes the CSU Trustees to accept, on behalf of the state, gifts or donations of real or personal property, as specified. These "gifts" are required to be annually reported to the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC), the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Department of Finance by January 5. The CSU has been consistently late in reporting this information because the Trustees must review and approve the report at their annual January meeting prior to releasing the report to the specified entities. The Trustees meeting schedule does not permit the report to be released by the January 5 deadline. In addition, the Governor's veto of funding for CPEC resulted in the closure of the CPEC office in November 2011. This bill moves the due date for this annual report from January 5 to January 31, and provides that the report may continue to go to CPEC or to a successor agency to the CPEC. 2) Why the change in fee authority ? In March 2014, the California State Student Association (CSSA), the recognized statewide student organization for California State University students, requested the establishment of a systemwide voluntary fee to fund AB 2736 Page 5 their programs and activities. Currently, CSSA is dependent on a voluntary portion of membership fees collected by the 23 local student associations, which has been augmented in recent years by an annual allocation of the Chancellor's Office. According to the Board of Trustees agenda item, authorization of a voluntary student fee would create a long-term, stable revenue stream to fully implement student participation, enable the CSSA to establish a higher degree of financial independence from the CSU system and allow students the individual choice to contribute financially to statewide student representation. According to the CSU, current law clearly grants the Trustees the authority to establish a voluntary membership at a state university, but there is a need to clarify the Trustees' authority to establish a voluntary fee at the systemwide level, before they can act on the California State Student Association (CSSA) request. This bill proposes that clarification by specifically authorizing the Trustees to establish a "voluntary" fee for the purposes of funding the statewide student organization. 3) How does the current voluntary fee work ? Current law authorizes the CSU trustees to fix a fee for voluntary membership in a student organization at a campus subject to the following: a) The fee is voluntary to the extent that it may only be fixed if two-thirds of the students voting in an election for this purpose elect the fee. b) Once voted, the trustees are required to fix a membership fee which is required of all students, other than those enrolled solely in extension classes. c) Increases or decreases so the fee may AB 2736 Page 6 only be approved by the trustees if approved by a majority of voting students. d) Payment of these fees is required to be a prerequisite to enrollment, with exceptions for students who work off the fee, as specified. 1) How is the new fee supposed to work ? According to the sponsor, the new fee authorized by the bill is expected to operate differently from the current fee for campus level student organizations. For the statewide student organization: a) The Trustees are authorized to fix a voluntary membership fee for the statewide student organization. b) A student has the ability to affirmatively elect to pay the fee, or a clear and unambiguous means to decline payment of the fee, each time the fee is assessed. As currently drafted, the bill does not clearly distinguish between existing fee authority to fund campus student organizations, and the requirements to be met to fund the newly authorized voluntary fee to fund the statewide student organization. In addition, though not the intent, it appears to establish a new mandatory fee. According to the sponsor, the modifications to current law are intended to clarify and distinguish between the voluntary fee established by the bill and the existing authority to establish a campus based fee. Staff recommends the bill be amended to create a new subdivision which authorizes the voluntary fee for the statewide student organization, and clarifies that for this purpose, a student shall have the ability to elect to pay the fee or opt out of paying the fee, each time it is assessed. AB 2736 Page 7 2) Need for clearer cross reference . This bill identifies the statewide student organization at the CSU by cross referencing statute that establishes the organization's role in appointing a student representative to the CSU Board of Trustees. Staff recommends the bill be amended to replace the cross reference with "the statewide student organization that represents the students of the California State University and the student body organizations of the campuses of the California State University." 3) CSU fees . Below is a summary of the types of fees which the CSU system and or a CSU campus may levy. -------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------- SUPPORT California State Student Association California State University OPPOSITION None received.